Today TS and I went off patch and headed over to the North Herefordshire hills in search of Dark Green Fritillaries. Interestingly enough where I live in North Worcestershire you can get to 5 different counties within a 50 minute drive...anyway I digress.
We arrived at Bircher Common and walked the paths through the bracken (as mentioned in the 30 Butterfly Walks in the West Midlands book) with very little success. The weather was getting cooler and windier and the only butterflies we saw were Ringlet, Small White and Large White. It was nice to see lots of Harebell in flower along these grassy rides. Whilst there we bumped into a guy with a pair of bins and asked him about the Dark Green Fritillaries. He suggested a better sight was at Yatton Hill Common a few miles down the road.
We decided to continue our walk at Bircher for a while and I did see a fleeting Dark Green Fritillary zip over the bracken but it was a very unsatisfying view. We headed up to the grazed common above the bracken and had a consolation bird in the form of a ♀ Common Redstart that was showing well. Linnets and Yellowhammers were also seen.
We returned to the car and headed over to Yatton Hill Common. Here you can park in Yatton village and walk up, it is a fairly steep ascent for the unfit (myself included!). Looking up at the bracken covered common through binoculars I could see a Fallow Deer neer the summit. On taking the footpath from the village to the hill there are cereal fields either side. Here we had the highlight of the day when we heard 2 singing Quails. We stopped and listened for a while and then continued our trek up the hill.
Towards the summit I had a somewhat worn Dark Green Fritillary on the path. I called Tony over and it flew just has he got there (so no photos I'm afraid). As the fritillary flew off over the bracken a 2nd one flew up and zipped across. This was the end of our fritillary sightings for the day. We continued to the summit where the views were stunning looking right across to the Black mountains in Wales. After a short rest it was back down the hill, just getting to the village as the heavens opened up.
View from Yatton Hill Common
Click on photo to enlarge
Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia)