Thursday, 8 August 2013

Chieveley, Lechampstead and Peasemore

I managed in the slightly cooler temperatures a walk of ten miles over some Berkshire farmland. It is walk best done in summer when the paths are not too muddy. I started off at the village of Chieveley, from where I had previously walked south over Snelsmore to Newbury. The other walk this links to was from Beedon to Hermitage. Here is a google map of the walk:

View Chieveley - Leckhampstead - Peasemore in a larger map

I saw many butterflies, a very good spell of weather for them. There were 17 different species I identified: Small White; Large White; Marbled White; Green-veined White; Brimstone; Speckled Wood; Meadow Brown; Ringlet; Gatekeeper; Small Skipper; Large Skipper; Small Tortoiseshell; Red Admiral; Peacock; Comma; Common Blue and Small Copper. All fairly common except for the Small Copper, but good to see in any case. As I have recently posted a page full of butterflies, I have had to limit myself to only including a couple more.

This view of fields of ripe corn sets the scene for much of the walk. Modern agricultural practise results in the fields being a wildlife desert.


At North Heath there was a paddock full of Highland bullocks which kicked up quite a racket when I came close. Nearby a barn was falling apart making it somehow more appealing as a subject for a painting.


Nearly every flower that I saw had a bee on it, sometimes two. They were all bumble bees, I saw no honey bees. This buff tipped one is on a knapweed flower.


At Leckhampstead there is an attractive little church. Now normally I have nothing nice to say about Victorian churches. All too often restorations rob the original building of its ancient feel, they were made too neat and tidy. In this case it does not pretend to be medieval. It was built in 1859 and the coloured bricks are used as interior decoration as well as outside. The architect Samuel Sanders Teulon had a distinctive style that seems to work in this case.

Leckhampstead Church

Inside it has a relocated Jacobean pulpit as well as a fine old Anglo-Saxon font.

Leckhampstead Church,font

The village has a few old houses, some thatched. It also has the distinction of a war memorial complete with two clocks built into it. The memorial is unusual as it actually uses World War I artefacts in its construction.

Leckhampstead house

Out in the countryside again, and the village has a small nature reserve just to the north, Grovepit green. There were many peacock butterflies flying around among the nettles.

peacock butterfly

I then came across a wild flower meadow full of scabious and marjoram with many bees and butterflies. There were some clustered bellflowers there too.

clustered bellflower

One last butterfly, on my butterfly page I reflected that there were not many 'green' butterflies, well a brimstone at certain angles looks decidedly green and can be mistaken as a leaf. It looks more green than yellow anyway.

brimstone butterfly

Now that we are creeping into 'late summer' the wild carrot flowers are beginning to fold in on themselves.

wild carrot

Peasemore is a bit of a modern sprawl along the main road, although there are a few nice old houses near the church. The church's high steeple can be seen for miles. It was in this graveyard that I saw my first Small Copper butterfly.

Peasemore church

Walking back to Chieveley took me to Old Street, the old Reading-Wantage track. One field had quite a few poppies around the edge, quite a rare sight these days.

poppy field

Finally I thought I would end on a moth. My previous post was all about night flying moths and today, in broad daylight, I saw half a dozen of moths that were all I believe Silver Y Moths. Curiously the moths were more sensitive to sound than the butterflies. If I made the slightest noise, such as taking the lens cap off my camera, the moths would fly away.

silver y moth

Sunday, 4 August 2013


The last post was full of butterflies, so it is only appropriate to follow that with moths. I went out to look at the contents of moth traps that had been set up over last night by the Reading and District Natural History Society. This is the first time I had looked at night-flying moths apart from the few that come in the window at night. I have seen a few day-flying ones: Burnet; Shell; Cinnabar; Mother Shipton etc. but all the ones here are new to me. As I am a complete novice with moths I have relied on the identifications by an expert. The important point that I came away with that moths are far more diverse and numerous than butterflies. There are over 2,400 moth species compared to about 60 butterflies.

My collection is of fairly common ones, not knowing any better I chose to take pictures of the pretty ones rather than the unusual ones. The Brimstone butterfly is more greeny-cream than yellow, however the Brimstone moth is a lovely bright yellow.


The next is a lovely orange-brown. called a Broad-Bordered Yellow Underwing as when it flies it flashes yellow at you.

moth,broad-bordered yellow underwing

The Leopard moth, is more of a Dalmatian with a dazzling set of spots.


Back to the oranges, and this very tame and furry moth is an Orange Swift moth.

moth,orange swift

The Herald moth has scarlet patches on its shoulders.

moth,the herald

That has shown a few colours, but it is the shapes that are diverse too. Here is one of the 'twig lookalikes' a Pale Prominent moth.

moth,pale prominent

Another 'prominent' is this Swallow Prominent.

moth,Swallow Prominent

Much bigger than the others are the hawk moths. The most common is this lovely Poplar hawk moth that was very happy to sit on my thumb while being photographed. Moths are much better behaved than butterflies for staying still. Their tactic to escape predation during the day is to stay put as much as possible.

moth, poplar hawk moth

Now for the more familiar moths with a 'flat' profile. Here is a Scalloped Oak moth.

moth,Scalloped Oak

And a Canary Shouldered Thorn. You can see its long 'comb' antennae swept back.

moth,Canary Shouldered Thorn

A Wainscot, showing lots of delicate veins.


And one of the many camouflaged moths we saw, a Straw Underwing moth, quite impossible for me to sort out between many 'similar' looking species.

moth,Straw Underwing

And a Silver Y Moth, named from the 'Y' on its wings.

moth,Silver Y moth

One strange one, it looks to me more like a butterfly than the others. You can see the delicate combed antennae. It is a Purple Thorn - looks more red than purple to me.

moth,purple thorn

Finally, my favourite, a kitten. Lovely, soft and furry with fine markings, it is a Sallow Kitten Moth.

moth,sallow kitten moth

I was impressed by the range of shapes and colours, there is more to moths than the non-descrip brown things that invade the house on summer evenings!