With things slowly starting to get back to normal I thought that I'd reflect on the lockdown period, a strange twighlight world of home confinement punctuated by furtive forays out somewhere you hope you'll not meet too many other people. As a family at the weekends we've all needed to get out of the house and so we've been exploring some of the many BBOWT reserves within the county. Whilst I've been a long-standing member of BBOWT if truth be told I've not actually been to that many of the reserves. So when at the first weekend when we were all allowed out for socially distanced walks and the family asked where in the countryside would be a good place to go I suggested that we start to explore some of these locations. Whilst a café visit normally features strongly in any family outing, in these unusual times we resorted to a large flask of tea and some snacks to keep us going. Below is a summary of the various places that we've visited.
I've visited Sidling's Copse a couple of times previously, once with my son in tow and once on my own but it was the first time for the rest of the family. Orchids and grassland flowers are a key feature here and there were still some Early Purples about though many of them were now swamped in the undergrowth.
|Early Purple Orchid|
|The wooded area was completely carpeted in Ransoms (wild garlic)|
The next day we decided to go to Bernwood Forest. A nice bonus on the way there was a Spotted Flycatcher on the telegraph wires at Horton cum Studley. As we approached the main Bernwood car park we could see cars parked all along the approach road - clearly, as it was the first weekend of being allowed out, it was going to be heaving. So with a quick change of plans we headed instead to Bernwood Meadows where there was no one else. With a Cuckoo calling distanly as a backing soundtrack we wandered around the ususually dry Meadows. I was surprised at how few Green-winged Orchids were about and how stunted they were - I guess the very dry weather had taken its toll. From there we ventured into the wood and as we were some distance from the main car park and we kept off the main drag we hardly saw anyone else. We were lucky enough to spot a herd of deer running down one of the rides briefly before veering off into the forest.
|Adder's Tounge Fern|
|Forester Moth - actually the first time I'd seen one. There were quite a few of them flitting sbout the place|
This turned out to be a bit of disappointment. It was an interesting enough site but smaller than we were expecting and whilst I rummaged about for butterflies the others soon exhausted the walking possibilities. I did spot several end of season Grizzled Skippers for my efforts but in the hot conditions they never settled long enough for a photo.
This turned out to be a lovely wood. We approached along a footpath across a field and in the hot conditions enjoyed the coolness of the woodland shade. There was nothing of particular note on the nature front apart from some stunning Honeysuckle trailing down from the trees. A nice site though that I'd definitely want to visit again, just for the pleasure of the woodland walk.
Whitecross Green Wood
Personally this was the highlight of the various walks we did. This is always a less well know site and with the main car park closed we had the entire place to ourselves. What's more the rides were absolutely filled with butterflies. I know that the narrow rides there tend to concentrate all the butterflies in a relatively small area but it was full of them. It was mostly the usual stuff with Marbled Whites, Ringlets, Meadow Browns and all three Skippers but it was such a delight to see them all in such good numbers. Of course these woods are well known for rarer species such as White Admirals, Silver Washed Fritillaries and even Purple Emperors. We managed to spot several White Admirals and a fleeting glimpse of HIM though I didn't manage a photo of the latter. I heard several Marsh Tits calling and with some Common Spotted Orchids dotted around it was a great visit.
|Common Spotted Orchid|