Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Saturday, 16th May 2015 Oakley Wood

 ( Leaders: Chris Tracey of Glos BC Branch & Geoff Hiscocks)

This was arranged as a joint meeting with the Wilts Branch of Butterfly Conservation, the primary focus being butterflies,moths and the flora and fauna associated with woodland. On a fine day 15 members and friends (other than the leaders) met at the car park for the wood, part of the Bathurst estate. Oakley Wood, together with Hailey Wood to the south is the nearest site to Bath where the scarce Pearl-bordered Fritillary can be seen flying in late April and May and it was not long into the walk before this target species was spotted nectaring on the many Bugle flowers.

Click photos to enlarge

Chris then took us on to several other compartments in the wood which the butterfly is known to frequent: in total we must have seen close to a dozen, providing plenty of opportunities for the photographers. Other species spotted were Orange Tip, Large White,
Dingy Skipper
Dingy Skipp
er, and a Painted Lady flying low and providing good views, the first this year for many members. Two or three of the attractive Scarlet Tiger moth caterpillar were found and the very small and pale Hemp Agrimony Plume moth spotted by Chris provided interest for the moth-ers in the group.

Apart from Bugle and the many bluebells, other plants of note were 
Early Purple Orchid, Woodruff and Wood Spurge…but we only had a fleeting possible glimpse of the Drab Looper moth known to be present in the wood which uses it as its foodplant.

Marsh Fritillary
After lunch back at the car park some of us accompanied Chris Tracey to nearby Westley Farm where she has been asked to survey for the Marsh Fritillary butterfly. We eventually found two, one of which posed obligingly for photos, and also several species not seen in the wood: Green Hairstreak, Small Heath (a year first for many), Common Blue, Holly Blue, Peacock and Small White. Sanicle was flowering by the side of the path down to the grassy bank where we saw the butterflies.

Birds seen/heard during the day were Buzzard, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Mistle Thrush, Garden Warbler, Siskin, and Linnet. Finally Small Tortoiseshells were seen beside the track back to the cars where Lucy heard a Whitethroat to complete the bird list. It was generally agreed to have been a very pleasant and rewarding day.

Geoff Hiscocks

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