Saturday 22 July 2017

Dorset Birthday Butterfly Heaven

My birthday was on Monday July 17th and the weather was glorious - very hot and sunny, just like last year - and so it was off to the coast for the day starting with a drive to Durdle Door, somewhere I have wanted to visit for many years now after learning all about the geology of the area for my O-level geography course many years ago.

We walked down the cliff path to the beach at Durdle Door along with many other people and it was already baking hot. The views of the coast and Durdle Door itself were stunning and along the walk I managed to see a small blue, a clouded yellow, a male chalkhill blue, common blue, marbled white, gatekeeper, small skipper, meadow brown, red admiral and lots of Lulworth skippers - fantastic!

Durdle Door

Chalkhill Blue, Durdle Door

Small Blue, Durdle Door

Lulworth Skipper, Durdle Door

Walking back up the cliff path was hard going in the heat as was the walk along the clifftops to Lulworth Cove but again there were plenty of butterflies to keep me occupied including dark green fritillary, painted lady and yet more Lulworth skippers.

Dark Green Fritillary, Lulworth Cove

Dark Green Fritillary

Lulworth Skipper

Lulworth Skipper

After some lunch at a pub in Lulworth Cove we headed down to the beach for a look at the stunning scenery, unfortunately the firing ranges were closed so we couldn't walk along the cliffs but we headed up to the small headland to the right of the cove where the views were amazing and yet more Lulworth skippers were seen along with a small heath and a dark green fritillary.

Lulworth Cove

Lulworth Cove

Lulworth Skipper

Lulworth Skipper

With the heat rising we moved on to Kimmeridge Bay for the afternoon where we sat on the beach and admired the interesting geology while Jack splashed around in the water. We found some fossils in the rocks and a Roesel's Bush-cricket, a new species for me, looking a little out of place amongst the boulders, while 2 ravens were seen flying overhead.

Fossil, Kimmeridge Bay

Kimmeridge Bay

Roesel's Bush-cricket

Roesel's Bush-cricket

We headed back to the cottage at the end of the day feeling very sun kissed and enjoyed a barbeque for tea - a very lovely birthday day indeed.

Tuesday 18th July and it was hot and sunny again but very windy and with thunderstorms and rain forecast for the afternoon David and I headed off in the morning to the nearby RSPB reserve at Arne for a walk, meeting the others at the café on the reserve later in the morning. A look for raft spiders on a small pond drew a blank but I did have some nice views of keeled skimmers and small red damselflies, a new damselfly for me. There was no sign of any Dartford warblers in the blowy conditions with a flyover siskin and tree pipit being the only small birds of note but I did get to see an osprey perched in a dead tree eating a fish, a little distant even with a telescope but a bonus bird for the day. A single grayling was also seen feeding on heather flowers in a sheltered spot.

Keeled Skimmer, Arne

Keeled Skimmer

Small Red Damselfly, Arne

Small Red Damselfly

Osprey, Arne

Grayling, Arne

Small Copper, Arne

With the clouds rolling in again we drove to nearby Poole for some lunch and a look around the shops. I watched 2 common terns for a while as they flew around the marina before we drove back to the cottage, arriving just as the rain began to fall and the thunder and lightning began.

Common Tern, Poole

The following day was cool and cloudy and mizzly and so after a quick look around Swanage where I saw a Sandwich tern in the mist and then some lunch at Corfe Castle it was time to head back to Plymouth - but what an amazing few days away I had had - gorgeous scenery in a stunning part of the UK, butterflies galore (21 species) including 2 lifers, good birding, a new damselfly, a new cricket, a visit to a RSPB reserve new to me, interesting geology and a fantastic time with my family, all in all a brilliant birthday time. 

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