Sunday, 12 June 2022

Time Well Spent

As I am leading a walk at Mapperton next Sunday it seemed sensible to acquaint myself with the current flora and fauna. Tom Brereton had already alerted me to the presence of a couple of interesting birds, so I was looking forward to my next visit. Which was this morning. It went better than I could have hoped...


I am continuing to make an effort in this area. Today I realised that the stuff I was blithely calling Cow Parsley is actually Hogweed, and the Cow Parsley is largely over now. I had already got to grips with Pignut, but today added Corky-fruited Water Dropwort. Along with lush clumps of Hemlock Water Dropwort that I must under no circumstances be tempted to eat (and loads of Wild Carrot at Cogden) I now have a repertoire of at least five umbellifers. Oh, and Alexanders. Six. Also nailed this morning were Hedge Woundwort, Creeping Cinquefoil and Catsear, and why the knapweed was Common, not Greater. Baby steps.

Corky-fruited Water Dropwort...

...and the basal leaves which helped me clinch it.

One of many lovely Common Spotted Orchids



Golden-ringed Dragonfly

Keeled Skimmer - female.

Mother Shipton

Large Skipper't started on thistles yet.

There is a good population of deer in the Mapperton area - too good probably. I saw several Roe and Fallow Deer, including a white Fallow and a spotty Roe fawn which I almost stepped on...

White Fallow legs it...

...then stops to check me out

Regular Fallow trying to work out whether I should be run away from.

I felt a bit guilty about disturbing the Roe Deer fawn. Hopefully mum was able to find it okay...

Composite of three shots. Tiny little thing.

This is where it had lain. A well-used spot.

The birdy highlights were even better. First, a 'mixed-singing' Chiffchaff thing. I cannot recall ever hearing one before, and I have to say it did sound weird. It sang from high in the canopy, and views were pretty rubbish. I recorded a couple of short videos though. Here is a sound clip...

Best of all, a singing Tree Pipit holding territory. Tom found it a while back, and I was really chuffed to see it so settled. Hope it finds a mate. I have never seen a 'local' territorial Tree Pipit, either here in West Dorset or on the old Axe patch in East Devon. The song is exquisite, and I spent ages just listening, and trying to get some decent video. A great deal of patient creeping and crawling eventually secured me a lovely spot to view from, and the bird appeared perfectly relaxed. In the end I was with it an hour or more. Time well spent.

Image overload...

And finally, a short video. Warning: you will see the Tree Pipit appear to fly off, but don't stop the video. What it actually does is launch into a glorious song-flight, which is well worth a listen. Just before the finale, you briefly see it zip through the shot again as it swoops in to land out of view a few feet to the right...

Time just whizzed by. Just me, some amazing habitat and a few lovely creatures. Nothing rare, nothing even that scarce. As so often though, context is everything.

An unforgettable morning.


  1. A lovely post Gav, very enjoyable.

    1. Thanks Dave. I'm very fortunate to have such a fine cast of willing performers locally. 😊