19 May 2016 Martin Down

Martin Dawn - Silens Lane end
It was a fine morning for our meeting at Martin Down, where we met our guide, Pete Durnell, at the Sillen Lane car park. We walked up to and along the Bokerley Ditch before returning to the start. Working for Hampshire County Council, and with a thorough knowledge of the Down, Pete was the ideal person to inform us about the area and the splendid variety of birds, butterflies and flowers we were to encounter during the walk.

Corn Bunting
Undoubtedly the best birds were the Turtle Doves. We heard their purring calls and saw two, with one performing a display flight after being watched well in a tree through a telescope. Martin Down is one of the few places in Hampshire where this migratory dove still breeds. Towards the end of the walk we came across a Corn Bunting (right) perched in the hedge near the car park, sadly another declining species. Also noted were Yellowhammer, Blackcap, Common Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff (heard only), Long-tailed Tit, Skylark and Common Buzzard.

Brimstone butterfly eggs

Butterflies were excellent.
Brimstone was the commonest and a female was discovered egg laying on the underside of fresh Blackthorn leaves (left)
Green Hairstreak

We also had good views of Green Hairstreak (right), Dingy and Grizzled Skippers, Small Heath, Small Blue and Orange-tip.

Early Purple Orchid

Flowers included - Early Purple     (leftand Green-winged Orchids, Chalk Milkwort,  Salad Burnet, Horseshoe and Kidney Vetches, Spindle, Lady's Bedstraw.