Sunday, 18 June 2017

Elegant Tern

I couldn’t twitch the Elegant Tern last weekend, as my parents were up visiting. Luckily, it has done the decent thing and hung around, so come Saturday morning I was out of the house by 3.20am and on the road. Arriving just after 7, the good news was the bird was still present, having been seen a bit earlier. After a bit of cooking in the morning sun, the Elegant Tern appeared in flight low over the tern island, before dropping back out of sight almost immediately; a few minutes later he was up again, had a bit of a fly around, and then landed on a muddy island in the main channel with some Sandwich Terns, where he then proceeded to do a bit of displaying – which didn’t go down well with some of the Sarnies! He then had another fly around before dropping back into his favoured spot on the tern island. Other birds included a Little Gull, Med Gulls, Little Terns and a Peregrine.

Elegant Tern

Leaving Pagham Harbour just before 9.30 (a bit later than I’d envisaged), I took advantage of being near the South Downs, and pulled in a couple of orchid sites on the way home. This was less successful than the tern twitch. At Chappett’s Copse in Hants, the Sword-leaved Helleborines were already well-over (as I thought they would be), as were the White Helleborines (which I’d thought may still be out). Furthermore, the Fly Orchids were also mainly over (although a couple still looked ok), and the Bird’s-nest Orchids also looked past their best, whilst the Broad-leaved Helleborines were yet to flower. Not good timing! However, this was only the second time I’ve seen Fly Orchid so it wasn’t a complete disaster, and SL and W Helleborines will go on my list as ‘non-flowering’...

Fly Orchid

On to St Catherine’s Hill in Winchester; a superb chalk grassland site – definitely one of my favourite habitats, beautiful and flowery and gently baking in the strong midday sun. Here I was having a half-arsed look for Musk Orchids. I know from experience that looking for small green orchids is difficult even when you know where exactly they should be (Frog Orchids in Notts), and it transpired that there was way too much south-facing downland for me to cover without better directions, so after a nice hour wandering around l gave up. This wasn’t a complete write-off though, with several Marbled Whites, and small numbers of Meadow Browns, Small Heaths, a couple of Common Blues and a Large Skipper (I was a bit surprised there weren’t more butterflies around, even if we’re in the ‘June gap’). 

St Catherine's Hill

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