The last day of my summer

The heath at Backley, near Sawley Beeches, New Forest, 30th August 2013
The heath at Backley, near Sawley Beeches, New Forest, 30th August 2013

Yesterday was to all intents and purposes the last day of my summer. I spent it out in the New Forest on not one, but two walks with my family, because I’m greedy and it was a nice day.

Our morning outing was to a place called Backley grassground and Soldiers Bog, which if you’re driving south from Stoney Cross on the A31 you can see on your left… though it’s probably better and safer viewed as a passenger!

Clouded Yellow, male, near Sawley Beeches, New Forest, 30th August 2013
Clouded Yellow, male, near Sawley Beeches, New Forest, 30th August 2013

The heather (mostly actually Ling, which isn’t heather at all really, but what most people think of as heather), like most other plant-life this year, is late, so still giving a glorious scent, though the further down into the bog you walk (on a good path), the more it get’s mixed with the equally heady scent of bog myrtle! Walking down we saw two Dartford Warblers, and I got my first ever clear view and photograph of a rarish summer migrant butterfly, in from the continent, a Clouded Yellow! It made my day, and we’d hardly started 😉

Down in the bog, whilst the husband was chasing dragonflies (we were meant to be working with two cameras but it became a slightly amusing squabble for the one we both prefer), the lad shouted “baby frog” but it turned out to be even better – a young Common Toad. We even got a video clip for my husband to use in school.

A young Common Toad in Soldiers Bog, New Forest, 30th August 2013
A young Common Toad in Soldiers Bog, New Forest, 30th August 2013

We were expecting Hobby’s to be visible working the valley bottom for dragonflies, but not a raptor was in sight, so after a little while leaning on the bridge in the bottom watching dragonflies, we climbed the hill again, this time startling a young Fallow Buck about 3 years old, before wending our way back to our access point to the open forest.

You'll have to trust me on this - the silhouette is a young Hobby sat among the Scot's Pine it was born in, New Forest, 30th August 2013
You’ll have to trust me on this – the silhouette is a young Hobby sat among the Scot’s Pine it was born in, New Forest, 30th August 2013

After lunch at ‘home’ in Lyndhurst, I was greedy for more and determined to see a favourite raptor, so we set out again to a spot I visited last year where my son and I found a Hobby nest. After a little distraction from a fading Holly Blue on the ling/heather, I heard the sound I’d been straining for – a juvenile Hobby calling from the same clump of pine that we’d found the nest in last year. There were in fact two, and both were well fledged and off the nest, though still clamouring for food from a parent. The light was against us so my poor photo was only in silhouette, but we saw all three birds clearly before walking in high spirits back to the car and ‘home’ once again.

Today, we drove properly home to Yateley again, where the wildlife can be as good, and we have wi-fi to upload the pictures! There are more of them, and some snaps of Curlew and Fountains Abbey on my Flickr site – accessible via the left column.

Now things start to get really busy again, so I shall enjoy the memory of this lovely end to our summer, as I start to get back into the grips of ordination training.

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Best Butterfly Day 2013 – New Forest

Silver Washed Fritillary, New Forest, 26th July 2013
Silver Washed Fritillary, New Forest, 26th July 2013

Back at the end of July before we took our holiday, I grabbed a few hours with my Dad wandering one of his favourite butterfly woods in the New Forest. It was a veritable bonanza of butterflies, when I got my best ever sights of Silver Washed Fritillaries.

I also learnt the difference between Green Veined and Small Whites. It seems to have been a big year for Whites – in the Yorkshire Dales a fortnight later there were clouds of Small Whites in the gardens where we were staying in Askrigg, with a few Green Veined among them if you looked hard.

Small White on the Corn Marigold's of my Dad's wildflower garden, New Forest 26th July 2013
Small White on the Corn Marigold’s of my Dad’s wildflower garden, New Forest 26th July 2013
Green Veined White butterfly, New Forest, 26th July 2013
Green Veined White butterfly, New Forest, 26th July 2013

We also saw a Ringlet, common here in Yateley but I’d never found one in the New Forest before, and also Gatekeeper’s but my photos of them weren’t very good!

 

Reviewing the photographs I have also now learnt to tell a Small Skippers from a Large Skippers – the large ones are (obviously) slightly larger, but also have more a dull brown around their wings. I love these little butterflies – I think of them as the cute teddies of the butterfly world!

Female Small Skipper (male's have a black line on the upper wing), New Forest 26th July 2013
Female Small Skipper (male’s have a black line on the upper wing), New Forest 26th July 2013
Male Large Skipper, New Forest, 26th July 2013
Male Large Skipper, New Forest, 26th July 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was also this beautiful Peacock butterfly – I’ve seen only a few of these this year in Hampshire.

Peacock Butterfly, New Forest, 26th July 2013
Peacock Butterfly, New Forest, 26th July 2013

We missed out completely on my dream of seeing a White Admiral but that means there’s plenty to keep me looking next year.

There’s more photo’s on my Flickr account if you’re a real fan, feel free to wander over there.

Hopefully I’ll be uploading some holiday photo’s soon – a week which was defined for me by the sound of Curlew.