Recording wildlife in the UK

18 July, 2010

Good Old Winchester Hill

Good Old Winchester Hill

Old Winchester has got to be one of my favourite nature reserves in Britain, because of it's brilliant views and also stunning range of wildlife that can be found there. It is arguably the best sight in Britain to watch butterflies, solely because of the range of specialist wildflower that grow on the chalk downland slopes, providing excellent feeding for specialist butterflies.

The butterfly I was looking for when I went down there the other day was Chalkhill Blue, and as the name suggests, its favoured habitat is chalk hillside.

The weather wasn't brilliant as we left, with grey clouds and rain overhead. Hopefully though, the bad weather would break up as we reached the south downs (area of hills)... obviously, it didn't, and we arrived to find many of the butterflies sheltering on grass stems, especially the smaller, weaker flying species like Small Skipper...




Some of the stronger fliers, such as the stunning Marbled White, braved the windy weather, and happily fed and perched out in the open...


As mentioned earlier, the reason butterflies flourish here is because of the specialist wildflowers that grow on the chalk slopes, including Common Agrimony, the footplant of Grizzled Skipper, abundant on the hillside in late spring...


The yellow flowers below are Lady's Bedstraw...


... Apparently, they can be used to cure the smell of stinking feet; I'm starting to regret not pickin- errm... anyway, here's a nice Ringlet that was resting on the path...


Up on the Celtic hill fort, it was evident that Yellowhammers were breeding, with adults carrying caterpillars into the surrounding shrubland...


Back to the task in hand, and slowly but surely the weather began to improve, with the odd bit of sunshine coming through. By this time though, we were reaching the end of the walk with no Chalkhill Blue to boot. Suddenly, a glance over the left revealed a blue butterfly... but was it a Chalkhill?

It finally came down to land on a bramble and bingo, those chequered patterns to the wings identify Chalkhill from all other British Blues...


It performed for another 10 minutes but was far out in the brambles, and I had shorts on, so common sense told me not to go prancing into the brambles!

... Success, I think so!

No comments: