WEDNESDAY 10 JULY
Temperatures were much lower than of recent days with a cool NE wind blowing, although did still peak at 72 degrees F. There was a lot more cloud too and a fresher feel in general.
Within the CHESS VALLEY, Beautiful Demoiselles were emerging in abundance, with quite a few Small Tortoiseshells on the wing too; WESTERN REED WARBLERS have bred successfully at CHESHAM FISHING LAKES and the Grey Herons are still incubating. A male BULLFINCH was the first in my LITTLE CHALFONT garden in a while, feasting as usual on the white sunflower hearts on the birdtable, whilst the 18-strong Common Swift flock now included several screaming juveniles of the year.
To make the most of the heat, I spent another day butterflying - this time concentrating on DARK GREEN FRITILLARIES on the IVINGHOE HILLS. Despite counting over 40, I failed to photograph any but whilst scaling the side of Steps Hill in search of them, a TREE PIPIT flew over me calling, heading away towards Incombe Hole. Intriguingly, a singing male had been reported in this area only recently - so possibly breeding. Lots and lots of butterflies on the wing, including 35 Marbled White, 8 Small Tortoiseshell, 150 Ringlet, 15 Small Heath, 2 Brimstone and 50 Meadow Brown, whilst a pair of BULLFINCH were in Top Scrub, 10+ Meadow Pipits in breeding groups, a jangling male CORN BUNTING at the base of Steps Hill and pair of Yellowhammers.
Pyrammidal Orchids were seemingly everywhere..
.....As were Fragrant and Common Spotted Orchids - by far the best display in years
The White Horse of Whipsnade
And the cattle getting some respite from the heat - but not the flies - in the car park
On neighbouring DOWN FARM CEREAL FIELDS, the COMMON QUAIL was still calling and 3 CORN BUNTINGS were still marking out their territories.