Abby Eaton shows us what we might find if we're lucky in Garston Wood, the RSPB reserve near Sixpenny Handley and Martin Down just back up the A354 towards Salisbury. (Even I might like a large white if I saw it in such a dramatic shot as Abby's!)
Along with the wonderful butterflies, Garston Wood also has a hill-fort somewhat concealed - look out for big ditches on the left as you go into the wood.
Martin Down is famous for having a good stretch of the massive Bokerley Ditch or Dyke - no one really knows why it was built, though there's some idea it might later have been an attempt to keep the Saxons out. But there is (or was) also a population of turtle doves - in a copse reached most easily from the car park in Martin village itself, rather than the one on the A354.
And of course the A354 is mostly on or near the Ackling Dyke, the Roman road that runs from Old Sarum to Badbury Rings near Wimborne.
I just love the atmosphere round here! All those ancients ... and all that wildlife!
Just in case you wondered what a barn door would look like (re Peter Shallcross's story about seeing a white tailed eagle flying over Wardour), happily Abby Eaton obliges with this photo, taken above Kildalton Cross, Kintour on Islay in June 2019. I think a barn door would be a lot less alarming!
It's the July photo in Abby's 2020 calendar. I'm looking forward to the 2021 edition.
I thought it might be fun if I posted a video of birdsong every weekend - some of them I do know, most I don't - and ask you to guess what bird it is - or say of course, if you know. This one I do know - I'd heard they sound like jangling keys and although I don't really notice my keys jangling, when I heard this, I knew what I was hearing!
It's recorded in the car park on Win Green. Do have a go!
... with their 'littlebitofbreadbutnooooocheese' call, but they're not the only yellow birds around. Andrew Graham tells how, 'Out on a cycle ride one morning I saw a yellow wagtail in the pasture on the east side of the road opposite Summerleaze Oaks.
'I must say I have never seen one before away from obvious passage locations and times and certainly not around here but I know they are a bit elusive and are decreasing in number.'
Peter Shallcross commented, 'Interesting siting particularly as yellow wagtails should be breeding now.
'The only time I have seen yellow wagtails was three or four years ago when I captured a photo of one on a trail cam by the dew pond in Chantry. Then the following year there was at least a pair in the same place over a period of a month. They may have attempted to breed there but I never saw any young.
'I think in the north of Wiltshire there are an increasing number of pairs so maybe they originate from that population.'
We were to enjoy a guided visit to this beautiful Wiltshire Wildlife Trust nature reserve on the Open Day on 11 July, but because of Covid the Open Day has been cancelled. You can of course visit independently - download the information leaflet here - and the Trust has arranged several informative and entertaining online events for us to enjoy. For details, go to our Field Trips page.
Our planned excursion on Saturday 25th July to visit Home Farm, Teffont Evias is going ahead - but is already fully booked in response to our Treasurer's email to members, because so few places are available. I will of course publish a report of the visit, and it would be wonderful if we could arrange a repeat but we can make absolutely no commitment, sadly.
For more information about Teffont Home farm, go to the Field Trips page.
Chairman Peter Shallcross and I have had two similar experiences when birds suddenly flew out or up and we stopped to look. Peter was at Clarendon, approaching a battered old wall when a spotted flycatcher flew out - and looking carefully inside, there were its chicks. (Apologies to those who viewed the photo of the yellow wagtail! - it belongs in another story.)
I was out on my favourite orchid hillside, towards Berwick St John. I'd 'done' the orchids and was thinking of walking on round, so set off across the big sheep field on the top of the hill. But I changed my mind and turned back. I was using the 'transept' method (of which more shortly under 'Reporting') of scanning left and right as I walked, when suddenly this bird shot up from under my feet, flashing white feathers in its rump. I stopped dead and looked down, and was absolutely thrilled to see this tiny nest at my feet. Peter identifies the eggs as a meadow pipit's. What a treat!
Facebook readers will know that Peter had a similar experience, finding a skylark nest near a path.
So be very careful where you walk especially if you're not on a path, and keep a very good lookout!
Chairman Peter Shallcross reports -
'Last year, six juvenile white-tailed eagles were released on the Isle of Wight, where they haven’t bred since 1780. Like the great bustards on Salisbury Plain (which we visited last August), they tend to travel widely when young and some of them go as far as Norfolk before returning. In fact, I saw one over the farm in Wardour, where it slowly drifted across the sky towards Donhead.
'They have been likened to a ‘flying barn door’, as they are so large. The buzzards spiralling below, keeping an eye on it, were certainly dwarfed.
'With the weeks of hot weather there have plenty of thermals for the buzzards and red kites to use.'
Ever wondered why and how bindweed climbs one way and honeysuckle the other? Flanders & Swan had their own ideas of course in their classic 'Misalliance' song but to understand what's really going on, Andrew Graham has an explanation - go to our Field Trips page - something to watch out for in the hedgerows along our fields and lanes.
Moth phobics will have to acknowledge objectively that this is a magnificent creature - once again spotted by Dick Budden in his patch near the Nadder. Andrew Graham commented, 'It's a Scarlet tiger moth. There are quite a few of them around at present. There are generally one or two fluttering around in my garden of a sunny evening at the moment. Splendid beasts though.
'There are lots of Hawk Moths about at night as well.'
So, for moth phobics like myself, keep those windows closed till you've turned the lights off!
The new page banner pic is of course Abby Eaton's of the Hobby - seems appropriate for what's supposed to be fast news!
If it's not me, Elizabeth, website editor (keen but ignorant), I'll say so.