Orchids and insects galore

by A warbler a day

After a busy week with limited opportunities for nature watching it was lovely to have some warm sunshine today as I headed to Martin Down. I had been there less than half an hour when I heard the purring call of a Turtle Dove. At the time I was chasing some moths trying to get a good enough view to identify them. fortunately when I got round to looking for the dove it was perched on tp of a tree in clear view just as the sun brightened to show of its plumage. The moth, by the way, was Opsibotys fuscalis, a little greyish micro moth. All along the walk there was a profusion of orchids, particularly Common Spotted and Fragrant. At one spot there was also a couple of Bee orchids and 3 large spikes of Greater Butterfly Orchids. Along side the orchids, it was the butterflies and moths that caught my attention. The butterflies of note were some Adonis Blues (patrolling round patches of Horseshoe Vetch), Small Blue, Brown Argus, Grizzled and Large Skipper. I also saw four other species of day flying moth; Yellow Shell, the grass moth Crambus perlella, Straw Dot and Common Heath. Walking back to the car along the Sillens Lane hedge I encountered a couple of species of warbler; a Lesser Whitethroat from a Hawthorn bush and a Willow Warbler which helpfully made its Hoo-eet call as it flew over my head to prove it wasn’t a Chiffchaff.

I spent the afternoon at Stockbridge Common Marsh where my attention turned to Dragonflies and Damselflies. In addition to the expected Banded Demoiselles there were some Azure Damsels in mating pairs round the muddy bays. More impressively I saw a male Broad-bodied Chaser with its sky blue body and Golden-ringed Dragonfly patrolling low along the river bank. The Golden-ringed is interesting as all the books say it is a species of ditches in heathland bogs. However it appears well established along the chalk rivers of Hampshire, the Test, Anton and Itchen as I’ve found it at numerous sites along them.

My successful day for insects has continued at home tonight with some lovely moths coming into the flat. A Clouded Silver, which is a delicate white moth, and the tiny Haworth’s Pug, which I’d never seen before. Roll on the rest of the summer and more wonderful insects.