Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Martin Down

This remnant of unimproved downland on the Dorset and Hampshire boundary is a superb site for seeing downland birds butterflies and orchids.  Our visit yesterday (23rd) was no different though a little quiet on the bird and butterfly front we still did pretty well.
Botany rich Downland- Martin Down © Nick Hull
One of the joys of this site is the numerous Skylarks which were constantly singing during our visit another of the regulars here is the Yellowhammer and we had several males which were in good voice during our walk.  Whitethroats were in evidence most were still feeding young and we watch a number to and froing from bushes laden with caterpillars for unfledged young.

Three weeks ago on our way home from the La Brenne we recorded a freshly emerged Dark Green Fritillary in Normandy and usually it's around two weeks later that ours are on the wing and our luck was in as Kate picked up a butterfly perched on the vegetation on the dyke bank.  Getting it in the scope I could see it was a Dark Green Fritillary that was trying to warm up in the morning sun.
Dark Green Fritillary - Martin Down © Nick Hull
For those of you who wonder why they are called Dark Green Fritillary it because of this beautiful green wash on the underwing.
Two Owls archive photo © Nick Hull
On our walk we had lots of Pyramidal, Common Spotted and Fragrant Orchids and one of my favourites Greater Butterfly Orchid.
Greater Butterfly Orchid - Martin Down © Nick Hull
Continuing our walk we heard Garden Warbler and Blackcap singing from the thorn scrub and some managed to see a pair of Bullfinch, then one of our target species of the day which took flight and landed out of sight further down the path.  So we approached with care and were reward with close views of a Turtle Dove who seemed happy with our presence and began to sing. 
Turtle Dove - Martin Down © Nick Hull
 We ended our walk with views of a family party of Long-tailed Tits, Large and Grizzled Skipper, Marbled White, Small Tortoiseshell, Adonis and Common Blue and of course Yellowhammer and Skylarks singing, a perfect end to our visit.

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