Field Meeting Report: Wilverley Plain - 8 July

Wilverley Plain   GP

On a bright morning this early July our large group (23) of enthusiastic Naturalists assembled and looked out on the busy plain full of cattle and ponies. The grass plain has developed a sparkling array of wild flowers since its re-seeding after the war when it had been ploughed and cultivated for arable farming to support the war effort.  We walked along the southern edge trying to avoid the inquisitive ponies and pay attention to what was at our feet. 

Pied Hoverfly     RS

We found the lemon-yellow flowers of Mouse-ear Hawkweed among the richer yellow of the other more abundant Hawkbits, Tormentil and Common Bird’s-foot-trefoil. 

Wild Thyme     RS

Mixed in were the purples of Selfheal, patches of Wild Thyme and the occasional specimen of Lousewort, the lovely pink of Common Centaury and blue of Common Milkwort, not to mention a host of other species like stars in the sky.

Lesser Butterfly Orchid     GP

On reaching swathes of heather, we found a few beautiful spikes of Lesser Butterfly Orchid, a delicate and intricate pale flower, and were serenaded by Skylark.

Heath Spotted  Orchid   

Descending from the plain we made our way down toward a boggy area, finding many examples of Heath Spotted Orchid along the way and the occasional delicate spike of Slender St John’s-wort. 

The most abundant heather was Ling (mostly not in flower just yet), though the rich purple flower of Bell Heather stood out amongst it and occasional patches of the pink and paler green of Cross-leaved Heath in the wetter areas. 

We found many interesting marsh plants including the yellow spikes of Bog Asphodel, mats of Marsh St-John’s-wort and Bog Pimpernel. A few dancing butterflies emerged in the heather, mostly the delicate Silver Studded Blue and the odd Small Heath.

Common Lizard     RS

We paused by a stream, hearing the busy Stonechats (but not seeing) and were lucky to see a female Common Lizard basking in the sun on a stump. Thanks to Chris for spotting.

 On moving off we saw glimpses of Linnet and then a male Stonechat displaying proudly at the top of a Gorse bush.

Oblong-leaved Sundew     GP

Returning through the valley Tina spotted a small group of Fallow Deer on the opposite bank headed by an almost white male already with a fine set of antlers developing. From one glorious sight to another on a different scale, eyes turned down for a rich display of  Sundew and the rarer Marsh Club Moss.

Another brief foray across the plain and our rather meandering walking bus returned from whence we came.  A thank you to Glynis for being the “beater” at the rear!  


Photographs  © Glynis Payne and Richard Smith

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