06 July 2017 Stockbridge Down

Marbled White
© Richard Smith

Twelve members turned out with Angela on a very hot day at Stockbridge Down. We had clear views across Hampshire and Wiltshire to Danebury Fort and Salisbury Plain. It was a wonderful day for butterflies with sightings of Silver-washed and Dark-green Fritillaries, Peacock, Red Admiral, Brimstone, Small Skipper, Marbled White and lots of Meadow Brown. The highlight for one very fortunate member was a sighting of a Purple Emperor. They are enjoying a bumper year following the mild spring.

Red-tailed and White-tailed Bumblebees were out on the summer flowers. Birds were keeping a low profile, perhaps because of the heat, but a Buzzard soared on the thermals above and a Corn Bunting sang from the top of a tree. 

Wild Basil
© Richard Smith
Dropwort -
the downland Meadowsweet
© Richard Smith

The flora is distinctly different from that of the Forest. Among at least 30 different species found were chalkland specialists like Dropwort, Squinancywort, Wild Carrot, Red Bartsia, Wild Basil, Musk and Dwarf Thistles, Wild Thyme and Marjoram, Salad Burnet, Hoary Plantain, Fairy Flax, Wild Clematis, Privet, Rock Rose, Field Scabious, Dogwood and Juniper. The Juniper is interesting because there are separate male and female plants.

Stockbridge Down is dotted with Bronze Age tumuli and there are traces of an ancient field system believed to be between 3,000 and 4,000 years old. These levelled areas with steep slopes between are believed to have been dug by hand and are known as lynchets.