Saturday, 14 June 2014

Orchids, Butterflies and Dragonflies in Botley Wood

My planned early morning ringing session had to be cancelled due to heavy rain on the south coast, which didn’t really seem fair as the rest of Britain seemed to be basking in glorious sun. That said the lie in was very welcome. After the rain had cleared I hung around the house for a while before heading over the Botley Wood for a stroll.

Bee Orchid

Several weeks ago I had seen the leaves of a bee orchid that had flowered two years ago, but last year it was devoured by rabbits. I had been covering parts of the plant up in the hope of hiding it from the little critters, but had forgotten about it since my return from Canada. I was pleased to see that it had escape the attention of the rabbits, since it was now in full bloom. Quite how it had escaped I do not know since it was surrounded by rabbit droppings, and the leaves and one of the flowers had been nibbled. Hopefully it will survive for a few more years yet.

Bee Orchid - Note the leaves and part of the lower
flower have been eaten by rabbits

The verges on either side of the substation road were in full bloom too, and Common Spotted Orchids were abundant in places. I noticed that my net rides will be in need of some trimming, which I will do before erecting the nets next time I go there.

Common Spotted Orchids

Bird wise it was fairly quiet, but that was hardly surprising as it was the middle of a hot sunny day. Several species were singing occasionally, but two species, Wren and Chiffchaff were singing almost continuously. I did hear a burst of Garden Warbler and also occasional Willow Warbler too, but not a sniff of any Common Nightingales. Butterflies and particularly dragonflies on the other hand were very active. During the course of my walk I recorded Large Skipper, Meadow Brown, Red Admiral, Brimstone and my first Marbled White of the year. Brimstone was the commonest species with seven recorded, the majority of which were females.

Brimstone on Marsh Thistle

At Toby’s Pond dragonfly activity was immense. There were at least 20 chasers hunting over the pond, and from what I could make out they were Broad-bodied Chasers and Black-tailed Skimmers. Damselflies were also abundant with Large Red, Blue-tailed and Common Blue the main species present.

Female Black-tailed Skimmer

There are several woodland streams running through the Botley Wood/Whiteley Pastures area and where sunny woodland glades are present so were Beautiful Demoiselles. The males were sparring over the stream and settling back onto a favoured perch, which was a fallen tree of an overhanging leaf. Beautiful Demoiselle is a locally common species that occurs on flowing waters in the south and west of Britain. 

Male Beautiful Demoiselle

They are apparently an indicator of unpolluted waters which is a good sign since I recorded them in three locations in Botley Wood.

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