“Short & Slow” Birding Walk 3 – RSPB Winterbourne Downs

Six people met on Wednesday 8 June at the reserve car park to see some downland birds, flowers and butterflies. It was a generally fine but windy morning and this was a short and gentle stroll to the stone curlew viewing platform and the top meadow beyond. We saw some Small Blue Butterflies and a Small Heath straight away. The first notable bird was a Red Kite being mobbed by Jackdaws.

Whilst walking slowly up the green track we heard singing blackcaps, robins and dunnocks. When the sun came out, we saw a Broad-bodied Chaser and some Common Blue Damselflies. The damsels were positively identified after the walk from a photo. We also saw two Yellow Shells, (day-flying moth) and a Silver-ground Carpet moth.

From the viewing platform we saw singing Skylarks and several Swallows, Linnets, and House Martins. Whilst we all managed to see Lapwing on the scrape, only two of us were able to get onto a stone curlew before it went back into cover. There are currently nine pairs of Stone Curlew on the reserve with twelve young.

We followed the footpath along the top meadow, enjoying the wildflowers. There was a profusion of meadow buttercups with Ox-eye Daisies, Sainfoin, Bird’s-foot Trefoil and Yellow Rattle. Recently, the Sainfoin Bee, a solitary bee that lives only on Salisbury Plain and feeds only at Sainfoin, has been found on the reserve. Although the wind was against us, we managed to see lots of Common Blue butterflies and a couple of early Meadow Browns. A singing corn bunting, perched on the fence no more than 30m away from us, gave excellent and prolonged views.

On our way back to the car park an iridescent metallic-green Thick-legged Flower Beetle that feeds on the pollen of numerous flower species, landed on one of our group. We added Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, and Brimstone to our butterfly list before we concluded our walk.

Reported by Mark Barrett