Monday 25 May 2009

Martin Down NNR

This morning I visited Martin Down NNR, a reserve on the Hampshire/Dorset/Wiltshire border. I almost canceled the trip due to the weather but Martha was coming too and said there's no way she was getting up at 6.00 AM and then NOT going somewhere I'm glad she was so insistent because although it was throwing it down when we arrived, the rain soon cleared to leave lovely warm, but not too sunny weather, ideal for the amount of ground we'd have to cover. Yes, I was looking for a particular orchid, but I was also hoping to see some butterflies and most of all Turtle Doves and Grey Partridge, which apparently nest here.

The view looking south over Martin Down, the reserve stretches as far as the horizon, so looking for a small flower was not going to be easy and the orchid I was looking for today is very small. The rare Burnt-tip Orchid.

There are four of them in this picture, so you can see how diminutive they are, diminutive and....

....Very Glamorous!

Burnt-tip are one of a group of orchids where the flowers resemble little human-like figures, as can be seen here.
And here.

We only found a total of seven plants although we obviously didn't search the whole reserve, there were also loads of Common Spotted Orchids and a few Early Purples clinging on too.


Yes no need to panic, not ALL flowers today! There weren't that many butterflies on the wing due to the cloudy conditions I suppose but I did see an few. I saw but didn't photograph Common Blue and Small Blue. Adonis Blue is regular here but we didn't see one today.

These two Dingy Skippers show the colour variety, being different colours to each other and also to the one I photographed on Saturday.

One of the thousands of Painted Ladies that have come in off the continent in recent days, yesterday I must have seen between fifty and a hundred fly past.

Small Heath,
never make the best photographic subjects, due to resting with the wings closed.

This gorgeous brute is a male Fox Moth

This bright green beetle hasn't got a common name. I think it's a Cryptochephalus hypochaeridis. Cryptochephalus meaning hidden head.

While we're on the subject, here's another nice green beetle, this one wasn't at Martin Down though. I took this photo yesterday. It's a Green Tiger Beetle.

I also managed to get a snap of this Common Lizard, which is no mean feat, though I say it myself.

Right, what about the birds? Well I didn't see any Grey Partridge, which was a teeny bit disappointing but we did see quite a few other nice birds. Martha liked the Stonechat best, never having noticed one on patch! I got photos of my 'fave three' of the day, NOT good photos mind, the S3 didn't like the cloudy conditions as usual, resulting in much naffness! I'll certainly take my scope next time I visit and there will be a next time I hope. A good thing about orchid hunting is that I'm visiting places I'd never think of going to otherwise. I'd never have discovered what a great place Martin Down is if it wasn't for the Burnt-tip Orchid! :-) Oh yes - back to the birds.

Before the rain had stopped the first bird I saw was this Lesser Whitethroat.

Wow! A Corn Bunting. I got to hear it's 'jingly-janngly' song for the first time today.

Without doubt the best birds of the day were the Turtle Doves. I couldn't believe how many were here! I got numerous flight views (around 8 or so) and a couple of views of perched birds too. Before today I'd only ever seen two. There appeared to be one 'purring' in almost every hawthorn thicket I passed. Amazingly today was the first time I've ever heard the Turtle Dove's song. They've got to be one of my all time favourites, and easily as glamorous as an orchid!

The best bird ever ? One of for sure.


A bit of news from yesterday I want to share. Bun and I missed the patch first yesterday morning, you know, the Plastic (whoops I mean Red)-Crested Pochard, because we were off patch at an undisclosed site looking at an undisclosed bird, undisclosed for the usual reasons obviously. It was stunning by the way! I only mentioned it because we also saw some other nice birds including three Cuckoos. (I only saw my first ever Cuckoo two weeks ago at Lakenheath - now I've seen eight). They were really vocal and were performing their full repertoire, I didn't know they made any other sound apart from 'cuck-oo'. Best off all though one perched up in a bare tree, my first ever view of one not in flight! It was also a good photo opportunity, only a naff S3 effort though. Why? Because somehow, someone went and forgot to take her scope! Doh! I wouldn't have managed to digiscope it anyway because Bun tried to set up his scope but it flew off before he could.

A perched Cuckoo at last. :-)

1 comment:

Nick Young said...

Great Photo's!! I have been to Martin Down a few times this year looking for burnt orchids with no luck (did find a frog orchid there today) any chance of a little assistance in finding them although it may already be too late for this year?

Many Thanks