Trip reports

Martin Down NNR, Hampshire

Martin Down NNR, Hampshire
Marsh Fritillary Lorraine Highfield

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

The field trip to Martin Down, near Salisbury was blessed with a perfect temperature, blue skies and plenty of wildlife for the 13 attendees. The site has many ancient features including the Bokerley Dyke, from which the wide open views still impress. The skies were full of Skylarks singing and there were plenty of Yellowhammers and Corn Buntings calling from the hedges. Early on we spotted a Cuckoo in flight and later heard several. One target for the day was to see Turtle Dove, sadly in declining numbers. We walked from the car park along the dyke, here the thin soils are good to support wild flowers including Common Spotted Orchid and Burnt Tip Orchid. Brimstone butterflies were much in evidence, their strong flight can cope with the breezy conditions. Here we also found the Dingy and Grizzled Skippers. The patches of Kidney Vetch are the food plant for the Small Blue butterfly, we saw plenty of these as well as the really bright Adonis Blue which feeds on Horseshoe Vetch. The shelter of the hedges is ideal for many butterfly species including Green Hairstreak. A helpful passer-by told us about Marsh Fritillaries which we were pleased to find, their pattern resembles stained glass. Some other birds we heard were Blackcap, Song thrush, Garden Warbler and Green Woodpecker.

We stopped for lunch while listening for Turtle Doves and soon afterwards a keen eyed member found one perched quietly and we all were able to see it through a telescope. Returning to the cars we saw Buzzard and Red Kite as well as some rare plants, Field Fleawort and Hounds Tongue. Before we set off home we had a quick walk around the woods on the opposite side of the road, but while pleasant these did not yield any further bird sightings.

We finished the day with about 26 bird species seen and heard, 15 butterfly species and a few day flying moths including Cinnabar. We did wonder at the lack of Common Whitethroats which are normally numerous here.

I would like to personally thank the dedicated field trippers who, every time, carry their heavy telescopes in all conditions and are so willing to share their finds.

Mary Robins