28 Jun 2014

28 June 14 - The Laurel & Hardy Of The Chalk

After finishing at the White Mill, Sturminster Marshall, I had intended to pop a couple of miles up the road to the nearby Badbury Rings to look for Dark Green Fritillaries. But it was getting quite cool & overcast by this point, so I switched into a hurriedly make up Plan B: to head up towards the Cranborne Chase area along the Dorset/Wiltshire border. I had driven through this area on the way back from Goring-on-Thames a couple of weeks before & was keen to see a bit more of this stunning countryside on the Wiltshire side of the border. I started on the Dorset side of the border, spent some time weaving West on back roads before finally crossing back into Dorset again. I drove around a lot exploring the stunning downland countryside around Sixpenny Handley, Bowerchalke, Win Green & Tollard Royal, before heading back home. The key part of Plan B was to try to get photos of one of the Downland birds, that I was particularly keen to photograph. I succeeded & managed to find it & get the desired photos. They are in this post, so it not a rare bird. However, as I will be coming back to that species in a future Photospot, I'm not going to reveal which bird was my target species at the moment.
Charlton Down: A view of this stunning downland immediately West of Win Green Down
Charlton Down: The view of the plain to the North of Charlton Down
I should have taken more scenery shots, but the Sixpenny Handley & Bowerchalke areas were heaving with cars as there was a big history festival, the Chalke Valley History Festival, being held in the area. A lot of people were heading off, following a heavy rain shower. This made stopping & enjoying the scenery more difficult on these narrow side roads. Fortunately, I started to get away from those cars as I got closer to the Win Green area. By this time, the rain had cleared & the sun was back out again. The wet weather wasn't surprising given it's Glastonbury weekend & this always seems to be a wet weekend, regardless of the weather in the surrounding weeks.
St Martin's Church, Fifield Bavant: Apparently, this 13th Century church is the smallest church in Wiltshire & second smallest in England
As I drove around, I bumped into a number of the typical Downland Bird, Mammal & Butterfly species.
Red-legged Partridge: Sadly, the upper classes still think it's important to introduce birds like Red-legged Partridge so they can shoot them. Not only do I object on principal at this pointless so called sport, but it also makes it more difficult for the UK to object to the whole scale massacre of migrant birds by countries like Malta. Malta continues to flout EU law over the killing of Spring migrant birds & their hunters target many species of European migrant birds. The hunting continues inside & outside of the season when they are only allowed to shoot 2 species (Quail & Turtle Dove). But this doesn't stop them killing Birds of Prey, Storks and many species of Songbirds (that don't look anything like their supposed quarry). Neither that it stop some of them intimidating people who object to this killing. Please support the excellent work by Birdlife Malta to try to stop this Spring Massacre on Malta that Chris Packham has highlighted so well here
Lapwing: Good to see breeding success. I stopped the car to photograph the adult, but then spotted this young chick. I grabbed a couple of shots, but left immediately as didn't want to stress them given it was raining
There was a good juxtaposition of a Meadow Pipit & a Corn Bunting at Win Green, but sadly not in the same shot. Their respectively shapes reminded me of the great silent movie screen double act of Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy. See if you can see the similarity.
Meadow Pipit: Clearly the Stan Laurel
Corn Bunting: Oliver Hardy lived in the pre-PC world when you could describe somebody as fat & you're not going to get a fatter songbird in Wiltshire
Corn Bunting: They have a great jangly song