Having finished a survey a little earlier than thought I decided to head to Beaulieu Road Station for a short walk before heading to the office. It was a beautiful warm mid-May morning, just when the New Forest is at its best. Dartford Warbler were conspicuous and in full song and on the path from Shatterford Car Park south to Bishops Dyke two males were in full song amongst the Gorse and Heather.
Dartford Warbler (Male) - Beaulieu Road Station
Dartford Warbler (same bird as above)
There were three pairs of Stonechat between the Shatterford Car Park and Bishop's Dyke and all had at least three fledged chicks as a result the adults, and especially the males, were defensive and followed me with their harsh chacking. While there were at least two bubbling Curlew and two pairs of Lapwing I was a little concerned not to hear any drumming Snipe, a sound that is usually typical of this site in the spring.
Through the scattered trees that line Bishop's Dyke the distinct 'chipping' of Crossbill could be heard from the Larch and Scot's pines and eventually at least three adult male, five female and 10 juvenile were seen although all were rather distant in the tree-tops. There were at least three singing male Redstart here and again the birds were mostly frequenting the tree tops, their stunning plumage contrasting against the blue sky of the morning. I had a quick coffee in Denny Wood where other than a Cuckoo singing amongst the Birch little was to be seen - even the Redstart were remarkably quiet presumably settled into breeding.
Crossbill - Male in Larch
Redstart - Male
Cuckoo in Birch at Denny Wood
With an hour or so to spare I decided to head to Stockbridge Down, one of my old butterfly'ing haunts, to catch-up with some spring species. Stockbridge Down is a fantastic site with a good diversity of butterfly species as well as picking-up a few migrant birds. I parked in the lower car park and walked along the track running parallel with the road and then over the road to the fantastic flower-rich meadow with abundant Cowslip. Below are the highlights of my short stop, in addition a single Pearl-bordered Fritillary was seen, a species I have not seen at this site previously.
Small Heath - Two were seen and both appeared freshly emerged
Dingy Skipper - Approximately 15 seen, most were again very fresh
Dingy Skipper - Feeding on its larval foodplant, Horseshoe Vetch
Grizzled Skipper - Just one seen
Duke of Burgundy - The prize species with at least six seen
Duke of Burgundy showing the underside of the wings
Duke of Burgundy belongs to the 'Metalmarks' a family with distinctive metallic markings, in this image the metallic bluish of the base of the forewing can be seen