Chris Bucke led a walk round the Wellbarn Estate in the Berkshire Downs on Wednesday 20th June, starting from Starveall above Aldworth. The route started out eastwards along the edge of a field of oilseed rape, crossed the Ridgeway, then went through Town Copse, where there had evidently been a good display of Bluebells and Ramsoms. There were splendid views as the track dropped gently down into Unhill Bottom. Greater Knapweed was in flower and the brightly coloured caterpillars of the Mullein Moth were found on the leaves of Black Mullein. Few arable weeds, apart from Black Grass, had survived in the barley crop at the bottom of the valley. A Hare was spotted higher up the slope and a Buzzard was being mobbed by crows. On the return route back up beside Unhill Wood, there were glimpses of how the hillside might once have looked, with sheets of Common Rock-rose and Wild Thyme, together with Pyramidal Orchids, Dropwort and Squinancywort. The butterfly count slowly rose during the walk, with Brimstone, Meadow Brown, Small Heath, Holly Blue, Common Blue and Speckled Wood identified. Most of the group then went to the Bell at Aldworth for lunch, where a Large White in the garden was added to the butterfly tally.
Pictures by Rob Stallard and Jan Haseler