Three and a half hours at the reserve proved rather disappointing with only seven Common Redstarts, which included just one juvenile, a female Stonechat, a large party of Long-tailed Tits, several family parties of Chiffchaffs and Coal Tits, a juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker and a couple of Green Woodpeckers being the best birds seen.
I did hear the distant churring of a Dartford Warbler on the M.O.D. land but, to my frustration, it didn't show itself.
Butterflies were a bit more obliging, if nigh-on impossible to photograph, with a Silver-washed Fritillary and a probable Silver-studded Blue dashing past us.
Others included several Small Heaths, Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers, Large Whites, a Small White, two Red Admirals, two Small Coppers and a Large Skipper.
A very tatty SMALL COPPER
A couple of interesting moths were found - the first I thought was an Udea lutealis but the kind people at the iSpot website consider it to be a worn Brown China Mark (Elophila nymphaeata). The second moth I thought was a Satin Grass-veneer (Crambus perlella) but, yet again, the experts at iSpot consider it shows enough of a two-toned appearance to be a Straw Grass-veneer (Agriphila straminella). I bow to their expertise in noticing subtle variations that pass me by completely.
Brown China Mark
I had hoped for Golden-ringed and Black Darter dragonflies but, like the birds, they were noticeable by their absence with just a male Emperor, a male Common Darter and a surprise in the form of a Brown Hawker patrolling at the edge of a belt of conifers, but not a single damselfly was seen
An Adder slithered into a clump of grass close to the M.O.D. land but refused to come out for a photo which was frustrating for me as I have never managed to photograph one yet!
A few Heath Spotted Orchids were still in flower and Sue found what I think is a Heath Milkwort, based on the habitat (although it could just as easily be Common Milkwort, but I think that prefers chalk grassland).
HEATH SPOTTED ORCHID
Fungi were everywhere but I don't have sufficient knowledge to identify them with any confidence but, again, the iSpot team reckon the first is The Blusher (Amanita rubescens var. rubescens) and the second is one of the Brittlegills (Russula sp). I will have to take their word for that.
All in all, the heathland was exceptionally quiet but, with only three other people present on the reserve, it still made for an enjoyable visit.
Graham & Sue