Monday, 2 July 2018

We're Back.

Hi everyone, well Jackie and I have returned from our holiday in France which was one of those kind of up and down type holidays.  There will be more on that later but for now, we have had a few walks which have been interesting in different ways.

Our first venture out after our return was with our Tuesday group on 26th at Sugar Hill, Wareham Forest.  This is a location where almost anything can turn up though it is more of a general nature walk at this time of year and indeed it did turn into a bit of a Butterfly and Odonata walk.  Though we picked up all the usual forest bird species that you would find in June with Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Coal Tit and the ever present Siskins calling overhead, plus good view of Common Buzzard perched and soaring also displaying overhead.  A Green Woodpecker gave us a good show and we heard siskin flying overhead and around us almost continuously throughout our walk.
Scarlet Tiger Moth-Sugar Hill_Wareham Forest ©Nick Hull
It was the Butterflies and Dragonflies that caught everyones attention from the start.  We had Small and Green-veined Whites, Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood, Large Skipper, Small and Common Blue and shortly after we started to pick up Silver-studded Blues in profusion, it appears they have had a very good year. Keeled Skimmer male and female and one of my favourites the large Golden-ringed Dragonfly cruised by us as it searched for its insect pray.  I then picked up a Scarlet Tiger flying across the path and fortunately it landed on a pine and everyone had a chance of seeing this super looking moth, equal in beauty to any butterfly in my opinion.   Ann found a couple of Bee Orchid spikes almost hidden in the long grass and we continued with more butterflies with Ringlet, Peacock, Red Admiral and we ended the walk with the appearance of the butterfly of the day two Silver-washed Fritillaries.
Golden-ringed Dragonfly-male Sugar Hill ©Nick Hull
Our next walk with our Wednesday group was in the New Forest, on reflection it was more a day of quality that quantity which made it a really super walk.  We began with Goldcrest and Coal Tit singing in the parking area then quickly follow with Song Thrush and Stonechat the latter species we kept coming across and seemed to have had a successful breeding season so far with many family parties being seen.  Linnets and Swallow, Meadow Pipit, Wren and Common Buzzard soon followed.

We then went through a patch of butterflies and dragonflies finding many Silver-studded Blues, Small Heath and Common Blue backed up with Emperor dragonfly, Four-Spotted and Broad-bodied Chasers, and Keeled Skimmers.  There were also, Beautiful Demoiselle, Azure Blue and Large Red Damselflies.
Male Keeled Skimmer © Jackie Hull
Continuing on we had singing Reed Bunting and Willow Warblers, these were usurped by watching more distantly a Honey Buzzard and for good comparison a Common Buzzard. Moving on we heard a Great Spotted Woodpecker and then saw Redstart fly across our path,  then a flyover Peregrine and it was while watching this speedy falcon that Jackie called "Sparrowhawk" then with quick realisation  said "No"! I quickly checked where she was looking and to my surprise there in my bins was a Honey Buzzard doing a little wing clapping and then it soared more or less over us, before moving off, a wonderful bird.
Honey Buzzard © Nick Hull Archive photograph
We followed this with a sighting of three Woodlark which kindly flew up and perched long enough for us to get good views before they moved off again further out into the heath.  We hadn't walked far when a Spotted Flycatcher put on a little show for us before we moved through an area of mature Oak. Here I picked up our first Silver-washed Fritillary on the year a super looking butterfly followed further on we by Large Skipper. As we walked over the stream we could here Blackcap, Willow Warbler and a Tree Pipit singing and another fifty metres Jackie found the Tree Pipit at the top of a dead tree, we finished our walk watching a small feeding flock of adult and immature Swallows fly catching over the heath.

Our third walk was an evening walk on the 30th at Martin Down, just into Hampshire an excellent chalk downland which is superb for butterflies, orchids and birds.

We started very quickly getting one of our target birds when Fran found a singing Turtle Dove at the top of a tree further up the trail, we quickly followed with birds flying and others singing. Yellowhammer, Whitethroat, Blackbird, Bullfinch, Song Thrush and Dunnock were a quickly checked off.
Turtle Dove © Nick Hull archive photograph
Then we had a cluster of butterflies with Large Skipper, Marbled and Green-veined Whites, Meadow Brown then Jackie found a group of Small Skippers starting to go to roost.  Our next sighting was a brief one as a male Sparrowhawk popped over the hedge and very quickly past us and was gone in an instant.  We continued with butterflies with Ringlet and a Green Hairstreak many of the butterflies were going to find evening roosts.  Turtle Dove were all now singing from a number of areas which I think everyone enjoyed as its not a sound that we hear much these days.
Large Skipper © Jackie Hull
On our return we added few bird species but Corn Bunting, Skylark and a single Grey Partridge which was heard and later seen flying low over the Down disappearing into the long grass.  it was then we started picking up Dark-green Fritillary a stunning grassland butterfly.  Shortly after we began to see Scarlet Tiger moths not the odd one or two but many, obviously we had hit on a large emergence of this stunning moth.  Blackcap, Starlings more Turtle Doves and Wood Pigeon were seen or heard to the backdrop of Skylark on a beautiful evening.

We only had a single dip on the evening our first time in probably five years of visiting here at this time of year the Barn Owl didn't show.

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