Monday, 17 August 2009

Dorsetshire Delights

Yesterday Bun and I tootled over the border into the delightful county of Dorset, home to much chalk downland and hence many species of butterfly and orchid. Our destination was Fontmell Down, just to the south of Shaftsbury, where we were hoping to see a couple of new butterflies and also the last orchid of the season. These were Silver-spotted Skipper, Chalkhill Blue and Autumn Ladies Tresses.

The weather forecast looked ideal, with plenty of sun on the cards, and for once it was right. Our timing was impeccable because on the same morning the Devon and Dorset branches of Butterfly Conservation were having a joint field meeting here!!

The stunning view of Fontmell Down which greeted us, plus
a large 'flock' of butterfly enthusiasts, 32 of them apparently (Bun counted 'em) including one juvenile and a few in partial moult.

A small group 'home in for the kill'. The 'victim' could have been one of these..

Silver Spotted Skipper.
Unfortunately we only saw two of these and they didn't stay put for long. I couldn't get a photo showing the silver spotted underwing very well.

Chalkhill Blue
Again we only saw two of these but that was enough, because like Silver Spotted Skipper they were a 'lifer' for us both. These two photos are both of the same male, he has a neat hole in his left forewing,

The aptly named Adonis Blue
There were scores of these, they were one of the most numerous butterflies on the down, I counted at least forty of them and we only covered a tiny area. Photos never do them justice, they really are an indescribably vivid blue.

Clouded Yellow

The down had a superb selection of wildflowers including one of my all time favourites, the Harebell. Such a lovely colour, not quite lilac not quite blue, and so delicate, nodding on the thinnest of stems, exquisite!

Autumn Ladies Tresses.
A teeny weeny orchid. There were quite a lot of these around once you got your eye in. We'd walked right through loads of them on our way from the car, but I hadn't noticed them! That's the last orchid of the year in the bag. Still plenty more to see next year though :-)

A couple of customary gratuitous close ups.

The moth trap has been out on Sunday and Monday nights too. On Sunday, round at Bun's where it caught 233 moths of 38 species, with 3 new ones for the garden being Crescent Dart, Pebble Hooktip and Ruby Tiger. Last night it was out on my feeble excuse for a garden and caught a spectacular 12 moths of 7 species. New for the garden were, Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, Straw Dot, Single Spotted Wave, Small Square Spot, Lychnis, and Dusky Thorn.

Ruby Tiger

Pebble Hooktip (worn and battered and just a little bit dead)

Dark Swordgrass
Not new but a well marked example

The pretty dull, Crescent Dart

Dusky Thorn


Small Square Spot

This morning I spent a couple of hours on Axe Cliff but there weren't many birds around really, just a few of the usual suspects, such as Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Stonechat, Yellowhammer and Linnet, as well as the even more common birds. A surprise was what I think was my first Axe Cliff Green Woodpecker ( I think it was my first that is, not I think it was a Green Woodpecker). The major highlight, only because it was the only bona fide migrant was a Sedge Warbler, which was skulking about in a field of blackened, shriveled dead broad beans. Sounds like a picturesque scene doesn't it? Well I've lovingly recorded it for you, in an abstract fashion, using the medium of photography.

There ye go!
I can't even say " Well, it's a good shot of the beans."


Anonymous said...

Great photos from Fontmell Down, Karen - especially the Clouded Yellow and Autumn Ladies Tresses, both of which I have yet to see.

Wilma said...

Great description of the second and last photos. Almost choked on my cake, laughing. ;-)

Bennyboymothman said...

Superb Butterflies, a few that i've never seen.
Sorry to correct but your Ingrailed Clay is a Small Square-spot :)

Karen Woolley said...

Thanks for comments folks.

Thanks Ben, Don't be sorry. I wasn't at all sure, these SBJs all look VERY similar. I'll amend it forthwith, still a garden tick though :-)