A short but profitable walk down a steep chalk dry valley near Wantage with the local natural history group. Weather overcast and cool for once - long may this continue! One of the first plants at the top of the slope were large thistles, after a little debate these were considered non-typical nodding thistles (Carduus nutans) in bud. For a report on all that the group found please look here.
There were a number of butterflies sheltering from the stiff cool breeze, including in places dozens of male Common Blues (Polyommatus icarus).
Later a brief spell of sunshine quickly caused them to start flying around and showing off their wings.
We saw ten or so Tiger Moths (Arctia caja) sheltering often in rabbit burrows out of the breeze
And also the rarer, and much better camouflaged, Green Hairstreak (Callophrys rubi).
Also sheltering in the clumps of nettles was a distinctive insect, which I can not identify... it may be a wasp or sawfly.
The nettles were clearly a magnet to insects. One clump had caterpillars of three different species feeding on it. These are I think peacock butterfly caterpillars munching away.
A couple of the distinctive Burnet Moths were also seen, this could be the five spotted version (Zygaena lonicerae).
There were some milkworts in flower, I spotted this one which is I think a 'pink' version of the common milkwort (Polygala vulgaris).
Then surely the highlight of the walk, a few isolated plants of the seriously poisonous Henbane (Hyoscyamus niger) in the 'potato' family (Solanum) along with the Nightshades.
Near one of the henbanes, we saw an Elephant Hawk-moth (Deilephila elpenor).
Finally on the way back a reminder that the orchid (common spotted?) flowering season is upon us.