Thursday, 4 September 2014

Aston Rowant

A Chalkhill Blue

I had an excellent butterfly walk at Aston Rowant last July and I have been waiting recently for a nice sunny day to make a return visit. The highlight last year was seeing lots of Chalkhill Blues and although it was later in the season (perhaps, I feared, too late), I spotted one almost as soon as I had reached the sunken path (below) where I saw so many last year.

There were only a few, so I was probably just in time. Almost immediately I then saw an Adonis Blue (first seen only a few days ago near White Horse Hill near Osmington in Dorset.

And soon afterwards there was a Common Blue. The Adonis is normally a more brilliant blue, but the critical difference between the two species is that in the Adonis the black line of the veins cross the white wing margin, whereas in the Common Blue they don't.

After this satisfactory start I went on a larger exploration of the reserve than I had done last year and climbed round to the back of Beacon Hill. To the north, the line of the Ridgeway path could be clearly seen by the line of trees reaching across the landscape. We came this on our Ridgeway leg from Kingston Blount to Swyncombe in February.

To the west the M40 headed across the plain towards Oxford.

After this, I headed round the side of the hill then downhill to join the Ridgeway and walk under the M40. I turned left to have a quick look at the southern part of the reserve: grassy meadows and another inviting hill. As time was running out, I headed back and then climbed diagonally up Beacon Hill to take the top path back to the car park. I was pleased to see several Brown Argus and a single Silver Spotted Skipper, my first of the year.It would not wait for a photo.

Conditions: warm, sunny in patches.

Map: Explorer 171 (Chiltern Hills West).

Distance: about 4 miles.

Rating: four stars.

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