Having had a break last weekend, we decided to go back down to Hampshire on Saturday for more butterflies. Its been a few years since we have been there, but Martin Down seemed like the best place, and then it was a case of trying a few other places as time permitted.
We got there around 1000, and it was already getting very warm, and this proved to be a bit of a problem as the butterflies tended to be very active and rarely settled. We parked in the lane west of Martin village and walked west along one of the tracks and diverted along a nice hedge lined green lane. Got my first Red Admiral and Common Blues here along with the first of very many Dingy Skippers. Good numbers of Brimstone, Small and Green Veined Whites and Orange Tips as well. Getting to the end of the green lane, we had very active Green Hairstreaks, the first of hoards of Small Blues, and some Grizzled Skippers frequenting damp wheel ruts.
The lowest part of the down is here and we found a good half dozen Marsh Fritillaries, more blues and one or two Small Heaths and Small Coppers. The Fritillaries were active and very territorial but one or two settled so we got some good images.
Heading up to Bockerly Dyke it was nice to hear a few Corn Buntings among the Skylarks and Yellowhammers. The Burnt Tip Orchids are doing well-the last time we saw them there were only two plants, this year I found six clumps with nine flowering spikes, plus at least one none flowering plant. Surprisingly I could not locate any other orchids as we walked north along the dyke, and butterflies seemed to become less frequent too. Found a few more Green Hairstreaks one of which posed, plus some Brown Argus but there were no sightings of Adonis Blues unfortunately.
Heading east, we called in at Chappets Copse which was carpeted with Sword Leaved Helleborines. We were the only ones present which was a bit surprising as it was very busy when we last visited a few years ago. The Fly Orchids were ok, one was partly eaten and there were a couple of good flowering spikes. Had a search for Birds Nests without success-the area seemed to be rather overgrown.
A commotion in an ivy covered tree turned out to be an owl which flew out through the woods. Got reasonable views and judging by the long winged appearance and vocalisations I thought it could have been a Long Eared but Tawny was more likely.
It was rather late in the afternoon when we got to Botany Bay in Oakden Woods. Still warm but rather cloudy now. We encountered around ten Wood Whites and one Nightingale. Still a few Bluebells and Early Purple Orchids in flower.