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Thursday 2nd November

It has been a long time since my last update – no excuses (or no good ones). Today was a lovely day when the fog lifted. Despite the drop in temperature, there is still plenty going on. Good numbers of Red Admirals continue to be seen, as do the last of the flowering plants that haven’t been cut back. The wasps nest is still very active and hornets continue to be seen.

Red Admiral

Red Admiral

It was, however, the birds that I enjoyed today. As usual at this time of year, they are seen moving around together and I found most of them in the ride along from the quarry. Although I’m sure I missed a few, there was Nuthatch, Goldcrest, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Mistle Thrush, Redwings as well as the Blue, Great and Coal Tits. Jays were around in numbers (many collecting acorns) and there were a number of  Buzzards soaring.

Margoram

Margoram

Although I haven’t seen much evidence of migrating birds on the Common this autumn  (probably because I haven’t been there at the right time),  one local expert saw a Honey Buzzard passing through. Quite a rarity, although another was seen nearby following the coast path on a different date. Very unusual for Avon generally.

 

 

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Tuesday 15th August

This is the time of year we are on the lookout for our late flowering orchid (Autumn Lady’s-tresses). I had a quick look around the reserve and found a few in flower, with one in an area I haven’t seen them before. If you go looking for these little gems be aware they are rather small and can easily be overlooked!

Autumn Lady's-tresses (Spiranthes spiralis)

Autumn Lady’s-tresses (Spiranthes spiralis)

Autumn Lady's-tresses (Spiranthes spiralis)

Autumn Lady’s-tresses (Spiranthes spiralis)

In terms of reserve management, we are entering the window for our hay cut. As many of the flowers have already set seed we are cutting and raking off the remaining vegetation. The raking is particularly important so we can avoid a build up of nutrients giving our special plants a chance to flourish.

One of our volunteer team is an expert in fungi and told me that the recent wet conditions have caused quite number to pop up. He found over 50 species on a recent survey!

 

Tuesday 25th July

Another fine, sunny day with a good variety of butterflies on the wing. Particularly abundant numbers of Silver-washed Fritillaries although I didn’t manage any Dark Green Fritillaries today. I had a good look at some of our Oaks to try and find some of the Purple Hairstreaks that I understand are here in some numbers this year; without success. However, during a stop for lunch, I managed to spot one on an Oak at the top of the quarry.

My limited success was trumped by Andrew Jones who saw five dotted around the reserve … and even managed a couple of decent photos!

Purple Hairstreak (courtesy of Andrew Jones)

Purple Hairstreak (courtesy of Andrew Jones)

 

Rather a long time since my last posting and, rather a long gap since my last visit.

However, yesterday Giles and I had the opportunity to show around a good-sized group from the Bristol Savages. With the weather just about as good as it can be for butterflies, we notched up a log list including lots of Silver-washed Fritillaries.

Silver-washed Fritillary

Silver-washed Fritillary

Despite being a distance from any significant water sources, Walton Common has regular visits from Dragonflies ….. and yesterday was no exception. A few Emperors were patrolling the grasslands and, at least four Brown Hawkers were present. Definitely the highlight for me!

 

A fine sunny afternoon tempted out a good range of butterflies today with 12 species noted by Andrew Jones and Peter Evans in the afternoon. I was up there a little earlier in the day and found plenty to enjoy with Bee-fly, Hornet, Mistle Thrushes, Nuthatches, Treecreeper and Green Woodpeckers. A few Early Purple Orchids are still hanging on, but the two orchids on the grassland above the quarry are going over now. I have been puzzling as to which species these are as they don’t quite fit into the typical possibilities of Early Purple or Green-winged. Any suggestions would be welcome!

Early Purple Orchid

Early Purple Orchid

Orchid sp.

Orchid sp.

Butterfly highlights have to go Dingy Skippers, Brown Argus and Common Blue … all appearing for the first time this year.

Dingy Skippers

Dingy Skippers (photo by Andrew Jones)

Brown Argus

Brown Argus (photo by Andrew Jones)

Walks

I think I might have omitted to publish the dates for this year! Hope to see some of you on one later this year.

Walton Common walks 2017

Friday 7th April

Green Hairstreaks were the highlight of a walk around the Common on Friday afternoon, along with a number of Brimstone and Holly Blue butterflies. This is the time of year when we look forward to seeing our first Green Hairstreaks, but these were the earliest I have recorded them here. My previous early date was 11th April … but I understand that they may have been on the wing even earlier this year. Although I wasn’t able to take a photo of them …. I am indebted to Andrew Jones who sent me a few of his shots from last week.

Green Hairstreak (by Andrew Jones)

       Green Hairstreak (by Andrew Jones)