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July 2010

Visitors have reported excellent views of nightjars on the nightjar walks and stonechats and Dartford warblers have been seen on the Heath. It is really good news that the Dartford warblers survived the winter as they are a resident warbler that is very vulnerable to harsh winter weather. Butterfly numbers are really good with lots of meadow browns and gatekeepers and clouds of ringlets, particularly in the wildflower meadow. I recorded my first white admiral butterflies of the season during the first week of July. These spectacular black and white butterflies are my favourite and are a species that has increased its range in contrast to most butterfly species. The caterpillars feed on honeysuckle and the adults tend to be seen feeding on blackberry flowers. Both of these plant species are prolific in the woodlands at Kelling and with a number of open sunny areas present, this creates ideal conditions for this species.

Interesting plants to spot in July are the Sanicle, subtle but elegant woodland plant and Hay rattle in the wild flower meadow. Hay rattle sometimes called yellow rattle gets its name from the noise of the seeds in the seedcases and most of this plant is now at the seeding stage due to the long hot dry spell. The plant is partly parasitic on grasses and where it grows it checks the growth of grass allowing other wildflowers to flourish.

The warm, sunny weather has been excellent for dragonfly and damselfly watching at the Conservation pond and up to 10 species have been seen in the pond vicinity. Emperor, Southern Hawker and Broad bodied chaser dragonflies and Large red, Azure and small red-eyed damselflies.

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