Thursday, 23 July 2015
After a wet few days the weather was kind on this summer afternoon on Roundhill. Many of the faces were familiar from our November visit, but the plan was vastly different as the biodiversity of the season called for a complete two hours on the hill itself.
After briefly pausing to view the new interpretation board and consider the human history of the area, we proceeded slowly up the Eastern slope; characterised by dense grasses, Crow Garlic and swathes of Agrimony and Ribbed Melilot. Small Skippers were in good numbers, with at least one Large Skipper, and a possible Tree Bumble Bee. Midway we ventured off the path to view Pyramidal Orchids; well past their best but worth looking out for in future springs. As the vegetation became more balanced the Red Clover and Knapweed (Lesser and Greater) became more prominent and consequently Marbled White, Meadow Brown and one Ringlet were seen. Further butterflies, including Peacock and Painted Lady, provided quite a distraction to many of the group looking down Southwards from the summit, while others were here fascinated by the amazing clarity of the freshly cleared skies; affording detailed views of many Bristol landmarks and the Brecon Beacons.
Here, Glen showed a selection of moths trapped the night before in our nearby garden. They included Dark Arches, Buff Ermine and Large Yellow Underwing[*]. For those of us who like the show-stoppers, Large Elephant Hawk moth and the incredibly twig-like Buff Tip were just the ticket.
With all the moths released we dropped down onto the South-Western slope of the hill, by far the
most species-rich section, with encouragement
to explore at ground level. A cool and dry spring was possibly the reason
behind much sparser grass than in previous years and concurrently greater
quantities of Yellow-Rattle (now in seed), Bird's Foot Trefoil, Hedge Bedstraw,
Lady's Bedstraw and Dwarf Thistle (coming into flower). Fairy Flax and Common
Centaury made a delicate appearance to the keen observer, and Field Scabious
hosted the occasional Six-Spotted Burnet (sadly not doing well here this year).
Glen's moth pots came in handy for the capture and inspection of the orthoptera that are especially prevalent on this hill. With some assistance from my able and determined son, we were afforded views of Roesel's Bush Cricket (long-winged and short-winged forms), Meadow Grasshopper and Field Grasshopper. Admittedly a clear identification could not be reached until I later brushed up on my knowledge of pronota; had my ID skills been up to scratch I may have also been able to confirm Common Green Grasshopper - which I later found to be evident on those slopes.
A handy piece of discarded flooring, known to frequently host interest, revealed a large female Slow Worm, before Glen rounded off the trip by capturing a strikingly beautiful moth for us all to view; it turned out to be Nemophora metallica.
Footnote: [*] It is believed we also had a Four-Spotted moth (Tyta luctuosa), though having since discovered the status of this species we are seeking to verify this.
Posted by steve curtis at 7:53:00 pm