Getting to the end of the season, but there are still a few insects and plants to see, and having not seen Colin for about a month we decided to do another Chiltern and area tour.
Heard that the Warburg Violet helleborines were flowering, so made that the first stop. Luckily the office was open so we could consult the map-and heard of a few bonuses too. Did not take long to get to the helleborine cages-walked past the now gone over Narrow Lipped, but there was no sign of any Broad Leaved at all-apparently all been eaten by Deer.
The Violets were a superb sight and we found several multi-stemmed plants to boot. Took most images using my flash gun to isolate the plants from the background.
The walk back took us through the southern meadow where we were told to look out for Chiltern Gentian. Not hard to miss being so big. Spent quite a while trying to get sharp images of the hover flys that seemed to like them.
The meadows were very colourful, with Musk Mallow, Thyme, Marjoram and the Gentians contrasting with yellow Wild Parsnip and Agrimony.
Birds weer rather scarce again, as most of the adults and juveniles tend to skulk at this time of year. We found many Marsh Tits as usual, along with the more usual woodland species and were delighted to hear a flock of Redpollss fly over.
The weather was not ideal for our plans as drizzle was not exactly expected for the morning. By the time we got to Aston Rowant it had turned to light rain. This did not stop the butterflies though. Lots of Common Blues and Chalkhill Blues and volatile Silver Spotted Skippers-our main target. Luckily one settled down for a long time allowing a close approach.
The Red Kite watchpoint was a dead loss in the rain, though one distant bird did fly over.
We then headed north west to try various Brown Hairstreak sites east of Oxford.
Bernwood Meadows looked promising, particularly as the sun was now shining, but we failed, as did the party that had been there all day. Lots of browns of course, and Common Blues as well as a slightly worn Silver Washed Fritillary.
A couple of more local sites described to me last week were not successful-we found the right area but i think failed to locate the correct bushes.
The last resort of Whitecross Green was our final destination. Several sightings in the logbook for the day and a chat to a returning observer raised our hopes. A long stake out of the Ash trees around the pond did not reveal anything until I located a butterfly high in one of the trees. Turned out to be a Purple Hairstreak, however two others seen flying around looked good but were too distant.
Just as we were leaving a Brown Hairstreak flew past Colin at head hight and then went up into one of the Ashes. We stayed a few more minutes but i never came down.