Shipton Bellinger, Hants/Wilts and Durslton Country Park 30-31 July 2020

Everything aligned! My booked annual leave actually coincided with great insect weather, I set off to meet up with my family in Dorset handily finding myself with a hire car and time to allow for search for a couple of target butterflies. I stopped off at Shipton Bellinger on the Wilts/Hants border and walked the mature rambling hedgerows, a few other folks were also out looking which included a familiar face or two.

Parties of Chaffinch and Bullfinch were in these old hedges and mature trees with Great spotted and Green Woodpecker to boot.

Plenty of butterflies were on the wing, it didn’t take too long to find a Brown Hairstreak resting on the Blackthorn scrub but I only had a couple of minutes with it before it flew off. I didn’t find it or another in the next ten minutes or so but a friendly couple came over to say they had been watching one for 15 minutes or so, I could see they were on to something but didn’t want to invade their space.

The chap kindly walked back with me to where he had been watching it, sure enough it was still feeding on the bramble flowers, good to have a close look at this smart butterfly in great light. I took a few pictures but spent more time having a good look through my ‘bins’.

Brown Hairstreak, Shipton Bellinger, 30 July 2020

I enjoyed pottering about this place for an hour or two but was feeling pretty thirsty in the heat so headed back to the car for a drink. I had plenty of time and wanted to try my luck for Lulworth Skipper so plumped for one of the hotspots, next stop was Durslton Country Park. Once again some thorough searching soon revealed the busy little skippers in the meadows along the clifftop. I’ve been to this area a number of times before, it won’t be too long before I visit again.

I headed back inland to meet up with the family but stopped off a heath along the way and waited and hour for dusk, four churring males, wing clapping, calling females and a few close flypasts in fairly good light made it worthwhile. All in all a good day out in very good weather.

The next day I managed a bit of time in the New Forest but it was a bit too hot for birding, a few Tree and Meadow Pipit, Stoenchats and calling Dartford Warblers were noted, best of all were mating Keeled Skimmers. It was too hot so I scarpered for the shade of my sister-in-law’s garden and met up with the rest of the family again.

Sipping cold bottles of lager we managed to add a brilliant Hobby which was after hirundines and a Peregrine chasing Starlings to the breakfast list of Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel.

Mating Keeled Skimmer in a ‘wheel’, New Forest 31 July 2020

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