Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Alners Gorse and a Few Local Bits

On Monday I decided to have a look around at Alners Gorse, the brilliant Butterfly Conservation reserve in Dorset. It was very hot and sunny which meant that most butterflies were turbo charged and photo opportunities were few and far between. I did manage to get a few though and there are plenty of nice plants too!

Essex Skipper - Thymelicus lineola

Small Skipper - Thymelicus sylvestris

Gatekeepers - Pyronia tithonus

Purple Hairstreaks were showing well coming low to nectar on Alder Buckthorn flowers.

Purple Hairstreak - Neozephyrus quercus

The White-letter Hairstreaks weren't so accommodating though and although there were lots of them they stayed put high up in the Elms.

White-letter Hairstreak - Satyrium w-album
Seen here taking honeydew from the surface of a leaf. The reason they seldom venture down onto low vegetation to feed.

Betony Stachys officinalis

 Dyer's Greenweed - Genista tinctoria

Sneezewort - Achillea ptarmica

Yesterday I went to Bystock to look for a new plant for me, namely Lesser Skullcap.
It's pretty tricky to find if you're not aware of just how small it is.

Lesser SkullcapScutellaria minor

 Common Centaury - Centaurium erythraea

Six-spot Burnet Moths - Zygaena filipendulae

Also a few bits and pieces from the local patch.

 Enchanter's Nightshade - Circaea lutetiana

 Red Soldier Beetle - Rhagonycha fulva on
Fool's Watercress - Apium nodiflorum

 Marsh Ragwort - Senecio aquaticus

 An unusual pale lilac form of Selfheal - Prunella vulgaris

Golden-ringed Dragonfly - Cordulegaster boltonii

 Juvenile Common Buzzard

Juvenile Reed Warbler

Friday, 11 July 2014

Whitford Bridge and Hampshire Orchids

On Sunday I dodged the thunderstorms and went to the River Axe at Whitford Bridge to look for White-legged Damselflies. I only spotted four in total (mating pair and two males) but the weather conditions weren't ideal. There were also lots of Banded Demoiselles I attempted to get some shots of these in flight, but with a 400mm lens, so having to stand fifteen feet away, it was a bit tricky!

 White-legged Damselfly - Platycnemis pennipes

Banded Demoiselle - Calopteryx splendens

Common Mayfly - Ephemera danica

Comma Polygonia c-album

Great WillowherbEpilobium hirsutum

Marsh Woundwort - Stachys palustris

On Monday it was back to Winchester again to move Martha out of her flat. So on the way I just had to pop in to the services on the M27 to check on the Broad-leaved Helleborines. They were a long way from being at their best but a couple of plants had a few open flowers. Then onto a reserve in Winchester to look for Green-flowered Helleborine an orchid I'd not seen before. I'd looked for them here last year without success but have since learned there was only a single plant last year. Having learned of the exact spot to see them before this visit finding them was somewhat easier. We bumped into the reserve warden and together we found seven plants. They were a bit underwhelming to say the least, very small with all the flowers firmly in bud. Sometimes they never open at all, self pollinating whilst still in bud. On two of the plants the buds appeared to be browning and dying off so obviously not going to open any further. We have to go back to Winchester in several weeks so I'll go back and see what happens. 

Broad-leaved Helleborine - Epipactis helleborine

Green-flowered Helleborine - Epipactis phyllanthes

This sighting on the notice board made Martha and me chuckle.
If you can't decipher it it says:
"I heard rustles in the bushes and saw horns"

On arriving home we were greeted by the lovely sight of this years Herring Gull fledglings ready to take their first flights,which they did just after I'd taken a couple of photos of them. One we haven't seen since but the other spent one night away but is now back. Nice to see them doing well after last years single fledgling couldn't fly and was taken by a fox.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Berry Camp Branscombe

I've been out and about locally quite a lot in the last week but just haven't found the time to blog. I've got quite a backlog again! On Saturday I took a walk along the cliff-tops to the west of Branscombe around the Berry Camp area. This is an area of chalk grassland with the remains of either an Iron Age hill fort or possibly Roman camp. Unfortunately for the flora the whole area is quite extensively grazed by cattle but there are some nice plants to be found on the steeper more inaccessible areas and on the cliff edge.

View from Berry Camp to the west, Sidmouth in the distance.

Weld - Reseda luteola

Black Horehound - Ballota nigra

Wood Sage - Teucrium scorodonia

Lady's Bedstraw - Galium verum

Common Spotted Orchid - Dactylorhiza fuchsii with Female Thick-legged Flower Beetle - Oedemera nobilis

Common Spotted Orchid

Heath Groundsel - Senecio sylvaticus

Pasture above Littlecombe Shute, too steep for most of the cows.

Steeper parts had lots of flowers.

Bird's Foot Trefoil Lotus corniculatus
Showing here why it's often known as 'Bacon and Eggs'

Eyebright - Euphrasia sp.
Due to the purplish,crowded, fleshy leaves and habitat I'd have a guess at Euphrasia tetraquetra

 Small ScabiousScabiosa columbaria

   Common Restharrow - Ononis repens

Common RockroseHelianthemum nummularium

Hoary PlantainPlantago media

Pyramidal Orchid - Anacamptis pyramidalis

There weren't many birds about apart from lots of Rooks, Herring Gulls and a few Ravens. A small flock of Goldfinches feeding on Musk Thistles were a charming sight though.