Saturday 23rd July 2016.
A beautiful view from a marvelous place.
I took Scruffy for a nice long walk over Old Winchester Hill this morning and with bright sunshine and the occasional large cloud drifting through and very little wind, it was to turn out to be a very pleasant walk. I arrived around 9am and was surprised to see very few cars in the car park, which boded well although I did come across quite a few people during the morning.
Gatekeeper. My first of the year.
At this time of year, birds do take a step back in the pecking order for there are lots of butterflies and insects around, especially with today’s beautiful weather; although I am always on the look out for something special. It is a good time for something unusual like a Bee-eater or White Stork passing overhead! All the usual birds were seen including at least 6 Yellowhammers holding territory, but looking like yellow jewels in the bright morning sunshine.
A male Yellowhammer singing on top of the Hill.
A male Greenfinch singing near the entrance to the Fort.
A Goldfinch also by the entrance to the Fort. Plenty of flies around, too.
A flock of House Martins high over the valley were occasionally joined by a few Swallows, but raptors were near non-existent this morning with only a fly-by Kestrel and some distant calling Buzzards for company. Bullfinches were sighted fleetingly, flying over the bushes and trees and the occasional Linnet and Greenfinch were seen. A Chiffchaff was singing by the entrance gate and a Willow Warbler flew across my pathway. Several Blackcaps were heard deep within the bushes but only a female bird dared to show herself briefly.
Six-spotted Burnet Moths were abundant.
At least two Small Tortoiseshells were seen this morning.
Cow Parsley growing along the footpath adjacent to the fields.
The tall grass and flowers were alive to the sound of Grasshoppers which included Meadow Grasshopper and Roesel’s Bush Crickets, but they were a bugger to photograph at times. I did find a Dark Bush Cricket (thanks Mike), which happily posed for me. More easier were the butterflies where I had at least 13 species on my walk this morning, which included Peacock, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Brimstone, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Large White & Small White, Small Skipper, Marbled White, some gorgeous Chalk-hill Blues and a probable Adonis Blue. At least two Dark-green Fritiliarys were seen, but didn’t hang around long enough to photo. Good numbers of Six-spotted Burnet Moths were on the wing and best of all, I found my first Hummingbird Hawk-moth of the year, feeding on thistle nectar along the footpath adjacent to the fields on the way back.
Dark Bush Cricket.
Marbled White. The red blobs are mites.
There was a riot of colour on the Hill with a large array of wild flowers to look at with Field Scabious, Round-headed Rampion, Wild Marjoram, Wild Carrot, Rough Hawkbit, Wild Basil, Common Knapweed to name but a few plus a few spikes of Common Spotted Orchid on the slopes by the Fort. I got a but sunburnt on the arms and neck this morning, but that was my stupid fault. I met up with Dave, the old chap who looks after the place and had a nice chat with him in the car park before we left. He told me that he watched a group of 5 Red Kites soaring above his house in East Meon yesterday afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed it. Good on him.
Small Skipper. Yet another butterfly with a mite.
The squadron of planes on their way to the Solent to take part in the air display at the America’s Cup.
A squadron of small planes flew over the Hill this morning as I was making my way back to the car, though I am not sure on what type they are. Obviously making their way to the Solent to take part in the Sailing event there today.
The Hummingbird Hawk-moth.
I had this Hummingbird Hawk-moth on the track leading back to the car, by the fields.
Interesting bird news today included a Cattle Egret residing at Fishlake Meadows near Romsey and a few returning migrants at Titchfield Haven including Little Ringed Plover, Green Sandpiper and a Yellow Wagtail. A Western Sandpiper was seen in Southern Ireland so I suppose its time for the goodies to return. Good numbers of large Shearwaters are now going through off the Cornwall coastline also.
The beautiful Brimstone.