Monday 11 July 2016

Pewsey Downs and its farmland birds

We started off from the Small Grain car park, heading towards the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s reserve at Morgan’s Hill.

We were soon picked up some linnet singing on and around the bushes and a lovely male yellowhammer sat singing his heart out from the top of a hawthorn bush.
Male linnet at Morgan's Hill

As we carried on along the old Roman Road, we saw common spotted, pyramidal and fragrant orchids just inside the reserve.

As we passed by the woodland and into the open farmland we started to pick up more yellowhammer and the first of several male corn bunting singing their jangly song.

Male corn bunting

We also picked up an increasing number of skylark and meadow pipit singing and collecting food for their chicks. We were also singing good numbers of whitethroat, a species that seems to have wintered well in the Sahel in Africa and returned to the Pewsey Downs in good numbers.

As we were watching another male corn bunting singing from a bush, he shot off to chase away a cuckoo who soon disappeared.

We continued on, really getting to grips with the songs and calls of the various farmland birds, virtually all of which are of high conservation concern. We picked up some butterflies as well, meadow brown, ringlet, large skipper and marbled white being the most numerous.

Marbled white at rest

We headed towards the main round along the side of a wood and were surprised by a hobby that was hunting for insects in the shelter of the trees – great stuff!

Next on the list was a male yellow wagtail who flew over us and landed on top of the crop where we had great views of him.  We heard and saw several more of these fantastic birds during the walk, but didn’t see one quite as well again.
Male yellow wagtail
The next sighting of note was a sheltered patch of flowers that had several butterfly species on them as well clusters of six-spot burnet moths.

The last bird of note was a male redstart flitting along the hedgerow, his red tail clearly evident as he flashed from bush to bush. 

A really nice morning's walk! (NA)

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