Aston Rowant – 5 August 2017

Jan Haseler led a walk round the southern Bald Hill section of Aston Rowant National Nature Reserve on Saturday 5 August. The walk started from the Cowleaze Wood car park under dark threatening skies and with a strong north-westerly wind. The route led diagonally down across the very steep south-west facing side of Bald Hill. At the top of the hill were Field and Small Scabious, Greater and Common Knapweed, Large Thyme, Marjoram, Wild Basil, Bifid Hemp-nettle and Agrimony. Continuing down the hillside, there were many gentian spikes which were not yet in flower. There was some debate as to whether these were Autumn or Chiltern Gentians, with the majority thought to be the latter. Carline and Stemless Thistle, Squinancywort, Yellow-wort, Lady’s Bedstraw, Eyebright, Quaking-grass, Fairy Flax and a Frog Orchid were amongst the sightings here. Then the clouds moved on, the sun came out and the butterflies started to appear. Silver-spotted Skippers were quite numerous and if they perched in a suitable position, attempts were made to separate the males and females. The females had darker, more contrasting wing edges, while the males had a dark sex brand on the forewing. Silvery-blue male Chalkhill Blue butterflies were unmistakable, while the dark brown females had chequered black and white wing margins. Common Blue and Brown Argus butterflies were also seen here, together with a single Dark Green Fritillary and a number of Six-spot Burnet moths.

The route continued through a gateway into the western section of Bald Hill. The lower part of the field was sheltered from the wind, and the carpet of Marjoram was alive with butterflies. Brimstone, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell and Small Heath were added to the butterfly tally here, while Common Gromwell, Clustered Bellflower, Thyme-leaved Speedwell, Juniper, Hoary Plantain and Hawkweed Oxtongue were amongst the plant sightings. On the walk back, Common Rock-rose and another Frog Orchid were seen.

Pictures by Rob Stallard and Martin Mitchell

RDNHS trip to Aston Rowant on Sunday 5th August led by Jan Haseler
List of plant species found
Scientific name English name Comments
Achillea millefolium Yarrow Pink flowers
Agromonia eupatoria Agrimony
Arenaria serpyllifolia Thyme-leaved Sandwort Growing on ant hill
Asperula cynanchica Squinancywort
Blackstonia perfoliata Yellow-wort
Brachypodium pinnatum Tor-grass
Briza media Quaking-grass
Campanula glomerata Clustered Bellflower
Campanula rotundifolia Harebell
Carduus nutans Musk Thistle
Carlina vulgaris Carline Thistle
Centaurea nigra Common Knapweed
Centaurea scabiosa Greater Knapweed
Centaurium erythraea Common Centaury
Cerastium fontanum Common Mouse-ear
Cirsium acaulon Stemless Thistle
Clinopodium vulgare Wild Basil
Coeloglossum viride Frog Orchid
Cornus sanguinea Dogwood
Crataegus monogyna Hawthorn
Dactylorhiza fuchsii Common Spotted-orchid In fruit
Daucus carota Wild Carrot
Euphrasia spec Eyebright
Galeopsis bifida Bifid Hemp-nettle
Galium verum Lady’s Bedstraw
Gentianella germanica Chiltern Gentian
Hypericum perforatum Perforate St John’s-wort
Knautia arvensis Field Scabious
Leontodon hispidus Rough Hawkbit
Ligustrum vulgare Wild Privet
Linum catharticum Fairy Flax
Lithospermum officinale Common Gromwell
Lotus corniculatus Common Bird’s-foot-trefoil
Mercurialis perennis Dog’s Mercury
Myosotis arvensis Field Forget-me-not Growing on ant hill
Ononis repens Common Restharrow
Pastinace sativa Wild Parsnip
Phleum bertolonii Smaller Cat’s-tail
Picris hieracioides Hawkweed Oxtongue
Pilosella officinarum Mouse-ear Hawkweed
Plantago media Hoary Plantain
Polygala vulgaris Common Milkwort
Poterium sanguisorba Salad Burnet Not flowering
Primula veris Cowslip In fruit
Prunella vulgaris Selfheal
Reseda lutea Wild Mignonette
Rhinanthus minor Yellow-rattle
Rubus caesius Dewberry
Scabiosa columbaria Small Scabious
Silene latifolia White Campion
Stellaria graminea Lesser Stitchwort
Thymus polytrichus Wild Thyme
Thymus pulegioides Large Thyme
Tragopogon pratensis Goat’s-beard
Trifolium campestre Hop Trefoil
Verbascum thapsus Great Mullein
Viburnum lantana Wayfairing-tree
List of butterfly species
Scientific name English name
Hesperia comma Silver-spotted Skipper
Pieris brassicae Large White
Pieris rapae Small White
Pieris napi Green-veined White
Gonepteryx rhamni Brimstone
Coenonympha pamphilus Small Heath
Maniola jurtina Meadow Brown
Pyronia tithonus Gatekeeper
Argynnis aglaja Dark Green Fritillary
Vanessa atalanta Red Admiral
Aglais io Peacock
Aglais urticae Small Tortoiseshell
Aricia agestis Brown Argus
Polyommatus icarus Common Blue
Polyommatus coridon Chalkhill Blue

List by Renée Grayer

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