Bank Holiday weekend again, and this one started on Thursday when I went down to the Chelsea Flower Show. Bit of an expensive way to year tick Ring Necked Parakeet but there you go.
I did what I always do, and managed to get down there shortly after it opened. Rather lucky with the trains-six connections there and back from Stevenage and on five of them it was get down the steps to the platform and get on the train, and the only wait was no more than two minutes. Wish twitching was always like that.
I spent two hours going round the gardens-several were exceptional, in planting, design and construction, and there were only one or two I did not like. The TV coverage does not always do a garden justice, and a couple that I was expecting to dislike were much better when I got to see them, and one with a lot of slate in its construction turned out to be a favourite. I happen to agree with Monty Don that the best garden was the French Perfumers Garden by L'Occitane as soon as you got near to it the scent of Rosemary and Lavender really hit you. I also enjoyed Dan Pierson's Chatsworth Garden as it was one that really repaid study.
Another two hours was spent in the marquee looking at the displays there, chatting to one or two nursery owners that I enjoy meeting. Picked up a few Aeoniums and carnivorous plants now that they are allowed to sell plug plants. Hard to decide on the best display inside, the orchid stands were fantastic, one having a nice group of Ophris (Bee and Fly) types from allover Europe, as well as the more usual tropical hybridsand species.
As usual got home completely exhausted and spent all day Friday recovering. I will get round to putting some images up on Flickr soon.
Saturday was an easy decision. The Greater Yellowlegs has been showing every day now for the last eight days so we had to go down. We decided not to leave too early, and were just getting onto the east bound M27 when news came through from Titchfield Haven that it could not be found. We diverted to the New Forest in the hope that news would come through later.
We arrived at Beaulieu Road Station and parked at Shatterford. It's been a long time since we had been here so we were not sure on what to expect. A group of House Martins collecting mud from a puddle was nice to see and we spent a while with them.
The walk down to the railway bridge did not produce a great deal apart from Stonechats that seemed to be everywhere. Despite the sunshine, a bit of a breeze seemed to inhibit insects and we only saw a few Large Red and Azure Damselflies. A large dragonfly did not linger long enough to be identified. Green Tiger Beetles seemed to be abundant, and every footfall seemed to produce a brief metallic green meteor.
We carried on past the bridge to Denny Enclosure. Willow Warblers everywhere, and a family of Siskin was a bit of a surprise. A female Redstart was pointed out to us-we eventually found at least two pairs here, but getting images was very tricky as they would not allow a close approach. Rather easier was the family of Treecreepers, one adult with perhaps five young ones in attendance.
We returned to the car, picking up even more Stonechats-there must have been at least ten birds in the mile or so down to Denny and back. At least one pair of Tree Pipits was also located, but the only Dartford Warbler was seen from the car-I set the scope up on a distant clump of Gorse while we had lunch.
Still no sign of the Yellowlegs so we gave up on the idea and went to Martin Down instead. Westbound holiday traffic was very slow but luckily we were able to navigate around it and it did not take too long to get there. Heat was building up and it proved to be a good butterfly afternoon.
The only problem was the report of Turtle Doves. We parked as usual west of Martin village and had intended to take the green lane westward, but the doves were reported to be along the track to the south west. This necessitated a detour of a couple of miles as we headed up hill to the south end of Bockerly Dyke, checking the scrub as we went. Met up with a couple of birders but despite them searching for some time, the doves were not located.
The walk down the dyke was nice with stunning views but little was seen apart from a single Twayblade and many Dingy Skippers, Mother Shiptons and Burnet Companions. At probably the lowest point of the dyke we found a couple of Marsh Fritillaries, and the first of several Adonis Blues. Getting to the end of the lane eventually, several Common Blues were seen and the first of hundred of Small Blues.
The main area of Burnt Orchis looked even better than in the past with 18 flowering spikes. Two other plants were found some distance away, suggesting a gradual spread.
The first of several Small Heaths were seen here, but no Green Hairstreaks unfortunately. Down in the valley bottom more Marsh Fritillaries, Dingy Skippers, Small Blues and one Grizzled Skipper were found, as well as Orange Tips, Brimstones and various whites. Corn Buntings and Yellowhammers were seen frequently here as well.
We had intended to go to Bentley Wood but time was getting on and I was very tired so we called it a day.
Its Sunday afternoon, and guess what sort of rare wader has been seen again today. Colin has threatened to go the next time it got reported. Have not heard yet if he has gone.