Monday, 6 June 2011

Hampshire Orchids

 This weekend, I had considered going down to Kent in the hope of seeing Dainty Damselflies and perhaps Late Spider Orchids. Decided not to as the damsels had not been showing in the recent windy conditions. As it turned out, two males were seen on Saturday, but hardly any of the orchids were flowering.
 We decided instead to go down to the New Forest and see what could be seen. A brief stop off at a wood near Noar Hill was interesting with a good selection of ferns and a few Common Spotted and Greater Butterfly orchids. Few birds of note though I did hear a Tawny Owl a couple of times.
 Did not really know what to expect at Noar Hill with the very dry Spring. I had heard that Musk Orchids were flowering in the south, and Frog Orchids in the Midlands, so we made them a priority. On arrival, the first thing of note was that the White Helleborines had completely gone over, and that Common Spotted, Twayblades and Common Fragrant were abundant. Pyramidal Orchids seemed to be doing well, but most were still in bud. The second thing was hearing Turtle Doves near the top of the hill-at least two were purring.
 Colin searched the Musk Orchid bank while I concentrated on a number of areas we usually don't go to in the hope of picking up Frogs. We were not successful.
 Butterflies started to appear eventually, mainly Small Heath and a single Common Blue. I found a number of Green Hairstreaks feeding on brambles and eventually a Dingy Skipper was seen.

  Our first site in the New Forest was Wilverly Enclosure. Not been here before and did not know what it would be like. Being a warm half term weekend it proved to be rather busy.
 Big problem was the wind had picked up and this was the feature the rest of the day. A walk along the north edge of the wood produced a single Lesser Butterfly Orchid which we duly photographed. A scan of the heathland a little to the north produced many hundreds more....

The orchids were very variable, some rather short, a few very tall and the number of flowers per spike varied quite a bit too. Did not encounter any other orchids here. Only birds of note were a couple of Mistle Thrush feeding on the heat and several Linnets. Had hoped to hear, if not see Redstart or Wood Warbler.
 Nearby Holmley Enclosure was an interesting place-we ended up in the south west corner at Stone Cross. The damp stream bed held several large colonies of Heath Spotted Orchids, most rather small in stature but a couple in the very boggy parts were quite tall and robust-I thought they may have been Southern Marsh. Our first dragonflies of the day appeared as it was quite a sheltered area-mainly Keeled Skimmers with a few Large Red Damsels. Single Brimstones and Dark Green Fritillary were the only butterflies apart from the ever present Small Heath.
 Our last site was Hatchet Pond. We do not have much luck at this place and again thanks to the wind we did not have a good time. Plenty of Keeled Skimmers, singles of  Black Tail Skimmer, Broad Bodied Chaser and Emperor were pretty much it. We did eventually locate two Blue Tail Damsels-again as per previous years no sign of any Scarce Blue Tails. I did find a single Southern Damselfly but that was it. A few Heath Spotted and Early Marsh Orchids were good to see as we usually visit this site a bit later and they have usually gone over. A single male Silver Studded Blue was the only butterfly here.
 I did locate several pairs of Redshank-rather they located me, and there were also Lapwing and Curlew in the area too.

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