Just realised that I have not told you about my last two walks, I’ve been busy enjoying myself on other matters. However, here goes with the latest update.
Samphire Hoe was our destination at the end of June. This is the reserve which was created by the spoils of the channel tunnel drilling. A huge area of chalk at the base of the cliffs to the West of Dover.
Although windy along the coast, the day was bright and sunny and we managed to amass a creditable number of species – but mainly of plants rather than birds. The birds may have been low in number but they excelled when it came to charisma. We found a black redstart which was nesting and had young, house martin nests built into the holes and crevices on the cliffs, and a family of four peregrine falcons. The parents were flying along the cliffs, as if encouraging their young to take to the air. The two juveniles were quite happy to sit on the ledge, one wing flapping but the other looked totally uninterested – typical teenager I suppose! There were also herring gull, meadow pipit, swallow, cormorant, linnet, skylark, wren and blackcap seen and heard.
The flora was a totally different story though, with over 20 notable species (and a few we were unable to name) including yellow-wort, sainfoin, eyebright, common restharrow, bittersweet, golden samphire (always a favourite of Malcolms because of the fly which frequents it), rock lavender, rock samphire, viper’s bugloss, marjoram, sea buckthorn, agrimony, common centuary and pyramidal and common spotted orchid.
With the wind it was hard to get to grips with butterflies and insects, but we did identify large skipper, small skipper, marbled white, clouded yellow, meadow brown, and the star of the day, adonis blue butterfly. 6-spot burnet moth and dock bug were also seen.
We called in at Western Heights on the way back – an English Heritage reserve which runs along the top of the cliff above Samphire Hoe, and comprises old forts previously protecting Dover. Sadly we did not have time to fully explore, but again the flora was interesting with typical wasteland species including, buddleia, valerian, herb robert, ox-eye daisy, rose-bay willowherb and then milkwort and more common spotted orchid.
The butterflies here included meadow brown, marbled white and ringlet.