Sunday, 21 June 2009

Solstice Eve

Saturday was spent hunting butterflies, largely in Wessex, during which we somehow managed to visit several historic places-Bath, Wells, Glastonbury and Stonehenge. Despite passing the latter less than twelve hours before the solstice celebrations, there were very few people visible, yet 35000 were present at sunrise this morning.
We started the day at Whitecross Green Wood near Oxford. Unfortunately with overnight showers and cloud, it was too cool and damp. We did see several Fallow Deer from the car park and managed to locate a Butterfly Orchid in one of the shady rides.
We then visited Bannerdown near Bath where I hoped to still find Green Hairstreak, though it was getting a bit late-I managed a brief glimpse of one high in a Hawthorn. Many of the browns were flying here-Meadow Brown Ringlet and Marbled White as well as the usual Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral. There were fine stands of Pyramidal Orchid too.
Collared hill near Glastonbury is the open site for the re-introduced Large Blue. We saw about a dozen on the very steep hillside, as well as Common Blue and various browns. In the distance we could hear the festival sound system being tested.
We decided to return to Whitecross Green in the evening, and conditions were much better, with several dragonflies present, and a number of Marbled Whites among the Meadow Browns. A small butterfly that flew over our heads was the sought for Black Hairstreak.

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