Colin and I went out on Saturday, hoping to catch up on some of the butterflies and dragonflies. The weather was supposed to be pretty good, but it turned out to be a bit windy, a bit cooler than hoped and occasionally rather cloudy. Not good, but we managed to see a fair bit, with one or two unexpected bonuses.
We started off at Reaulieu Road station, parking at Shatterford and walking down to Denny Enclosure. Siskins and Goldcrests in the car park conifers, Mistle Thrushes by the railway, and House Martins collecting mud from a track puddle started the walk off nicely.
There were several family parties of Stonechat as usual, and we picked up a couple of Tree Pipits as well as one or two Meadows. I found some Heath Spotted Orchids off the main path, but dragonflies were hard to find-all we managed in the breeze were a few Large Red and Azure Damsels. On reaching Denny, it didn't take long to find the Redstarts (in the same trees as our last visit a couple of years back) feeding young. Never really got a good camera angle but Ive never photographed a juvenile before.
We had hopes for Dartford Warbler and Woodlark, having seen them here in the past but we weren't successful.
Our next stop was at Crockford Bridge, which has seen a lot of maintenance since our last visit with a lot of scrub clearance. Don't know if that was the reason, but Southern Damsleflies were everywhere. We also had Large and Small Reds, a Four Spotted Chaser, a Broad Bodied Chaser, possibly Keeled Skimmer and Beautiful Demoiselles. No butterflies and no Golden Rings.
We have been meaning to visit Acres Down since the Black Eared Wheatear twitch two years ago, and conditions looked good for raptors, but we only saw multiple Common Buzzards. pity as a coach party had been watching several Hobbies and judging by a back of camera slide show, a male Honey Buzzard had been displaying at extremely close range mid morning. I did hear Tree Pipits, at least one Woodlark, but Dartford Warbler couldn't be found. We also Missed Spotted Flycatcher and Hawfinch. The pond to the north gave us a Pair of Broad Bodied Chasers, several Emperors and Azure Damsleflies, as well as some of the ponies.
The decision to forgo a search for Scarce Blue Tailed damsels due to the increasing cloud and went to Martin Down instead. Due to traffic problems on the A31 and several road closures and diversions it seemed as if we wouldn't get there and with increasing wind and cloud it like we had wasted our time. However the sun finally broke through and it warmed up a bit.
Walking up the track from silent Lane, we kicked up a few day flying moths and one or two Small Heaths, and eventually a few Small Blues were found. The muddy puddles which had been so good in past visits had gone and we never saw anything else until we reached the Dyke. The Burnt Tip Orchids were looking good, and had been for a week or two. One clump had gone over but the other three were fine. Common Spotted, a lone Pyramidal and lots of Chalk Fragrant were also seen. More Small Heaths and Small Blues, one Painted Lady and three Adonis Blues were flying in the more sheltered environment. No Green Hairstreaks though, and apparently its been a poor year for Marsh Fritillaries-one guy I spoke to had only seen a couple in four visits.