Saturday saw some very heavy rain storms, but by the early evening the rain clouds had given way to clear skies, so I took the decision to put the moth trap out, and despite a few showers during the night it managed to pick up some more new moths, and a couple of previously caught moths but not necessarily under the best circumstances.
First up was a lovely White Ermine, well I thought it was, but later after posting this and checking through my photographs and the Hants web site I realised it was different, the wings, if you look carefully are almost transparent, and there are more spots, this is a Leopard Moth, and a new one for the garden
Another new moths for the garden was this Great Oak Beauty
And this Polar Grey.
But pride of place today goes to the Polar Hawkmoth. I caught one earlier in the spring, but this was the chance to get one on the white background. It played up a bit, not wanting to stay, and it did fly off, only for Helen to catch it out of a bedroom window.
We let it go, and it stayed on a Hydrangea leaf for the rest of the day.
There were plenty of Heart and Dart and Grey Arches again, and a Elephant Hawkmoth, and once these had been set free, we decided to set off for Old Down, and beyond.
Juvenile Starlings seem to be everywhere, they fly around in groups practicing the skills that will see them join the murmurations in the winter, then they settle on the tv aerials, still begging for food from the adult birds.
Once past the houses on Brislands we came across a new butterfly for the year, a Ringlet. At first it stayed on the bracken with its wings open.
Then it flew on, and settled with the wings up and the underwing clearly showing the rings that give it it's name.
Whitethroats were calling from deep in the hedges, and a Yellowhammer was seen with food for young somewhere in the hedges too.
We made our way into the wood, and the bramble flowers were attracting the Meadow Browns within the wood.
I wanted to show Helen the Buzzard nest, so we made our way to the the nest site, but as I looked up the nest seemed to have gone, I could make out one chick, but there was no sign of the nest or the other chick.
We checked under the tree for any fallen nest thinking that maybe yesterday's storms may have blown the trees about, but there was nothing under the tree. We walked to the other side of the tree, and I finally was able to make out one of the chicks.
And above it was the older chick, you can just see its yellow legs.
One of the adults flew in, causing the chicks to call out, and this was our signal to leave. As we made our way along the main path we could hear an adult bird calling and I managed a view of one carrying what looked like a rat again for the nest. As we left the area we could hear the chicks calling in the expectation of the feed to be delivered.
The sun was now lighting up the bracken, and a Speckled Wood provided an unusual view.
We turned into the main north - south path, and there were plenty of Meadow Browns on the brambles, but then I saw what I had hoped to find, a Silver-washed Fritillary amongst the bramble flowers.
I had been concerned that the forestry work in the winter may have disturbed them and I would not find them this year, so this was a very welcome sight, and one of my earliest sighting.
Lets hope that the White Admirals are about too.
Another orange butterfly caught my eye in the sunshine, but this time it was a Comma, still a lovely butterfly.
We left the wood and walked to the pond. An Emperor Dragonfly was quartering the lily pads, and the carp were feeding at the surface.
More of a surprise though was the family of Moorhens feeding amongst the lilypads, they were not concerned with our presence.
We left the pond, and on the lawns by the nissen huts the "Beast of Four Marks" was stalking the hedgerow.
We walked to Kitwood and took the footpath down through Homestead Farm. The path had been cut, and there was plenty of butterflies, mostly Meadow Browns and Ringlets with a few Tortoiseshells.
A Buzzard flew low over the field mewing, probably with another nest nearby.
A small butterfly sat on a dead leaf, and on close inspection it turned out to be a Large Skipper enjoying the warm sunshine.
We walked up the footpath past the Shetland Pony paddocks, and stopped for a drink at the garden centre.
Leaving there we walked down through the meadow, and as well as the Meadow Browns saw two Marbled Whites, the first of the year, making it three new butterflies for the day, eve if the Marbled Whites did not stop for a photo opportunity.
So it was back home, the summer doldrums have begun, the Meadow Browns become the new Woodpigeons, but who knows something is always there to surprise you, you just have to look!