Nomad

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nomad
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Nomad

Postby nomad » Sat Aug 23, 2014 6:09 am

Hi All, I thought I would start a diary. Although it is a bit late in the season to do so. I thought I would go female Brownie again hunting today. Although the temperature dropped to a low of three degrees last night. I wonder how the female Brown Hairstreaks cope with this. The males last weekend were appearing very worn at Sutton Bellinger, however I did find a few nice females last week. There were a few other species around including some pristine Brown Argus and nice Holly Blues. A good spent day among the butterflies.

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Female Brown Hairstreak basking
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Male Brown Hairstreak
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Second generation female Holly Blue
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Second generation male Holly Blue
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Holly Blue Male underside
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Brown Argus female
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Brimstone
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Red Admiral

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David M
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Re: Nomad

Postby David M » Sat Aug 23, 2014 7:24 pm

Nice start, nomad. Your Holly Blues look to be in great nick.

nomad
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Re: Nomad

Postby nomad » Sat Aug 23, 2014 8:48 pm

Thanks David, I was surprised to find the hollies in that condition at this date. Today, I was a few fields away from the best site at Sutton Bellinger, when I knew I had forgotten a important fact. Wolf like howls seemed to be coming from a very large pack of dogs, this was indeed the Bank holiday weekend husky working dog show. The main boundary hedge where I had such a good time a week ago was inaccessible. I moved of to a nearby area I call the triangle, but no luck. While I was peering at a sloe hedge, a man appeared shook my hand and suggested I join his group of Ash Brownie searchers. I thanked him for his kindness but declined and they moved off in a hurry down a hedge in their quest. This I believe was a BC led field meeting. When I met them again, they had seen several Brown Hairstreaks around the Ashes. I had a good scout around the Sutton Bellinger area, but with the main site out of bounds and the often cool conditions I did not except many photo opportunities. Walking back to Tidworth in the afternoon to catch my bus home I saw the BC just ahead, soon they were lost to view as they headed uphill. I turned down a old sloe lined drove just on the outskirts of the garrison town and started to search a scrubby area with young sloes. A female landed in the grass and as I approached she flew off and high into a thicket. I returned to the track then after waiting some time, a female flew low and started to egg- lay on a very small sloe in the dense vegetation. She then landed on a leaf and briefly opened her wings and just at that moment there was the roar of off road motor bikes and a trio stopped just behind me, I rushed to get a few not so sharp images with her wings open and passing the vibrations of these super charged off roadsters saw her disappear once more. Still this was a fitting end to perhaps my last Brown Hairstreak trip of the year.

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Last weekend Sutton Bellinger was so peaceful but not today.
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Female Brown Hairstreak resting after egg-laying
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The female Brown Hairstreak showing a bit of wear, tear and shadow.
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Female Speckled Wood
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Common Blue female.

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Wurzel
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Re: Nomad

Postby Wurzel » Sat Aug 23, 2014 9:14 pm

Lovely shots of the Brostreaks Nomad :D On reading your report my first thoughts were "Damn it I was going to Shipton tomorrow and with wet weather at the start of next week time seems to be running out" but I'll risk it anyway and see if I can slip in under the fences :wink: Failing that there may be some females egg laying on the footpath up towards the Master tree.

Have a goodun

Wurzel

nomad
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Re: Nomad

Postby nomad » Sun Aug 24, 2014 6:56 am

Hi Wurzel. I am pleased you liked my brownie images :D There are no fences at the dog-show. However, the main boundary hedge at Sutton Bellinger has caravans and awnings full of dogs very close to it. I did go along the first bit, but a paddock of around twenty fierce barking dogs at my approach then saw the approach of two huge men, who wondered what I was about. Although they said I could carry on, their pack had set off the others in competition all the way down the line. The noise was truly intense. You also will not get far down that hedge due it being blocked by awnings.. I love peace and thought I better not interfere with the dogs owners enjoyment of their special Bank hoilday weekend, their are plenty of hedges to search in the vicinity. I do hope you have some luck. My find was in Wiltshire along a drove near Tidworth that was uphill northwards from the boundary hedge. As I started this blog- diary late and as the butterfly season is nearly at a end, I thought that I would also write and post images of my favourite butterfly outings this year. I am also very interested in the former geographical distribution of British butterflies, so when I get permission I sometimes go to museums to study historical collections, so I might do a some posts about these.
Regards Peter.
P.S. On my last two visits to Sutton Bellinger, I have only seen the females low down from 2pm onwards.

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Re: Nomad

Postby Pauline » Sun Aug 24, 2014 2:59 pm

Great start to your diary Peter. I, too, have made the mistake of turning up at Shipton Bellinger on that weekend so I agree that the noise can be considerable - but there are some impressive animals there.

nomad
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Re: Nomad

Postby nomad » Sun Aug 24, 2014 4:19 pm

Thank you Pauline. Yes I have also make that mistake once before. :? I agree with you the Husky and Malamutes are among the most lovely of the dog breeds. :D Regards Peter.

nomad
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Re: Nomad

Postby nomad » Sun Aug 24, 2014 4:39 pm

Today I had a walk up from Avebury to Fyfield Down NNR. The reserve is not a noted butterfly site and the primary interest is geological and archaeological. The valley here is strewn with Sarsen stones that are the home to many rare lichens. As was the case exactly a year ago today, the Small Tortoiseshells were warming themselves on the stones that are around 50 million years old. Strangely there were no Small Coppers buzzing passing insects that I had found here last year. Then I had noticed a strange copper feeding at Creeping Thistle that turned out to be an aberration. The forwings showed ab fuscae but the hindwings were very unusual. This image caused quite a debate among some lepidopterists. Some believed that there was scale damage to the hindwings due to natural events. Others pointed to the yellowish hindwings areas with the usual bright sub-marginal band and thought that this was a unique genetic individual. I hope it was the latter. Whatever the case, this unusual copper seems to have survived a bird attack, perhaps from one of the many Meadow Pipits here. Today I sat on the stones and had a bask with the Small Torts, it is so peaceful up here. A Raven was calling from a Pine and Green Woodpeckers were in full Yattle. Still it was time to return to the global throng down in Avebury and buy that Sunday lunch I had promised.
Regards Peter
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Small Tortoiseshell basking on Sarsen stone.
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Small Tortoiseshell on Sarsen stone
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Small Copper aberration. 24.8.2013.
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Small Copper aberration at Fyfield Down.
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Rain Storm approaching Fyfield Down October 2013.
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Valley of the stones Fyfield Down October 2013.

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David M
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Re: Nomad

Postby David M » Sun Aug 24, 2014 9:02 pm

That's one of the weirdest Small Coppers I've ever seen.

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Re: Nomad

Postby essexbuzzard » Sun Aug 24, 2014 9:54 pm

Agreed,most unusurall. Not totaly unlike the black European forms. Great sighting. :)

nomad
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Re: Nomad

Postby nomad » Mon Aug 25, 2014 8:05 am

Yes guys, I was very pleased with that sighting, certainly a strange individual copper. :D

nomad
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Re: Nomad

Postby nomad » Mon Aug 25, 2014 10:59 am

James Charles Dale ( 1792-1872) is perhaps the most important of the early British Entomologists as regards to the information that he left behind in his diaries and on his data labels of his very early extensive collections of British insects. He was followed by his son Charles William Dale ( 1851-1906) who we have to thank for donating the entire collection to the Oxford Museum.

While I was examining the famous historic Dale British Butterfly collection in the Hope Department of Entomology, I was surprised to find just above the Large Blue series, a specimen of the Alcon Blue - Maculinea ( Phengaris?) alcon. This specimen seems to have recieved scant attention by British lepidopterists. It was mentioned by the Oxford lepidopterist James Walker RN ( 1851-1939) in his review of the Dale collection in the ' Entomologist ' for 1907. M. alcon is a rare species that is very local across mainland Europe. The Alcon Blue flies on wet heaths where its foodplant the lovely Marsh Gentian occurs. Walker in his review mentions that in C.W. Dales register of the collection there is following information for the M. alcon specimen : collected in the early part of the 19th century by a Mr. H. Jones at Cliefden in Buckinghamshire'. This specimen was given to Adrian Haworth ( 1767-1833) and was later bought by C.W. Dale at the great sale of the the Haworth collection. Placed by the specimens side in the Dale collection is the label ' Bedford ', but this may have mistakenly been placed there because J.C Dale collected the Large Blue M. arion from that very old locality for that butterfly. A valley in the chalk downs would be a most unsuitable habitat for an old colony of M. alcon. It has been suggested to me by a Dutch lepidopterist that as there are coastal populations of this species in Holland, this butterfly might have been blown or flown across the channel. If this was the case you might have thought it would have been found on the Kent coast and not miles inland. I have also had this very interesting letter from a British lepidopterist which gives a very interesting twist to the British Alcon Blue mystery. See below.


"Now, the M.alcon / M.arion story. I can add quite a bit to this from the manuscript of W.P.Curtis' unpublished work on the Lepidoptera of Dorset. If you pass me your email address I will send you the entire transcript of the M.arion entry. In summary, Curtis noted that Tutt had ascribed M.arion as being at Parley Heath in Dorset "in plenty" on 5th August. Tutt's source was said to be J.C.Dale. Interesting that Dale crops up again in connection with M.arion / M.alcon, isn't it?

Curtis notes that an examination of 351 letters (these are in the Hope Collection, according to W.P.C) passing between J.C.Dale and John Curtis found absolutely no reference to M.arion being at Parley Heath - a seemingly strange omission. Nor could he personally find any reference to M.arion in other personal papers he personally examined that had been annotated by the prolific J.C.Dale. He bluntly remarks "the Parley Heath record I frankly disbelieve"...

However, he was nothing if not an inquisitive and open-minded researcher, and he picks up on the date (5th August) that the 'M.arion' were abounding at Parley Heath. Late for M.arion, but he notes that M.alcon is found as near as Brittany - and that it flies in July and August. Furthermore, he notes that M.arion's larval foodplant (thyme) isn't in his experience found on heathland, but M.alcon's larval foodplant of Gentiana pneumonanthe was commonly found on the heathlands of Hants and Dorset on which Parley Heath was but one area.

He concludes "The Parley Heath insects if ever they existed might just as well have been alcon Fabr. as arion Linn. So much for Parley Heath."

He had quite an acid tongue!

Hard to conclude precisely what was going on at Parley Heath. I'd speculate that J.C.Dale almost certainly heard of M.arion there secondhand; if at all. If he'd found them there, we'd know about it given his well-preserved collection and prolific papers. There's always the possibility that someone was trying to legitimise fake specimens of either arion or alcon by latterly claiming some connection to Dale - but in the absence of any such specimens, that's a slender hypothesis. The date and the presence of M.alcon's foodplant in the area are intriguing, but no more than that. It's a rather lovely mystery - and absolutely fascinating to see the Dales' fingerprints all over your fragment of the M.alcon in Britain story as well as this one."

This letter to me certainly lit a spark of further interest in this subject. I might add that in the Loudon's Magzine Volume 7 1834, there is a article by J.C. Dale which lists the rare insects that were taken at Parley Heath up to that date. Sadly in this article, there is no mention of any Alcon Blues from one of his favourite collecting localities.
Peter

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The British? Alcon Blue in the Oxford Dale collection

nomad
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Re: Nomad

Postby nomad » Fri Aug 29, 2014 7:12 pm

I always enjoy seeing the first lovely Turquoise Chalkhill Blue males. This year we made another special visit to Lardon Chase in Berkshire above the affluent village of Streatley in early July to see these butterflies. Arriving early by train, to a misty morning, we were just in time to find the males roosting and basking. The sun quickly broke through the mist and the Chalkhill blues males were soon busy hugging the turf in their endless search for females and both sexes were also visiting flowers such as Marjoram. Another special insect of this site in the longer grassy areas is the well named Great Green Bush Cricket. At the end of July in the Calstone Coombes in Wiltshire I noted a nice female Chalkhill Blue post-caeca aberration. I spent quite a bit of time on the steep slopes of the coombes searching for the rare Wart-biter Crickets but had no luck. I also, after many unsuccessful attempts, managed to get a decent image of the nationally scarce Chalk Carpet moth which are easily disturbed here from the grass and after a very short flight usually seek dense vegetation to hide in. A visit to Swellshill Bank in Mid August saw large numbers of Chalkhill Blues still on the wing, although most were appearing worn. Some were visiting the tall pink Hemp Argrimony at the bottom of slope. Peter

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A male Chalkhill Blue warms up in the early morning at Lardon Chase.
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A male Chalkhill Blue roosting at Lardon Chase.
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Female Chalkhill Blue resting on St John's Wort Lardon Chase.
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Male Chalkhill Blue.
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Female Chalkhill Blue basking Lardon Chase.
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Female Chalkhill Blue on Marjoram.
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Great Green Bush Cricket Lardon Chase.
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Female aberration post-caeca Calstone Coombes Wiltshire.
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Chalk Carpet moth Calstone Coombes Wiltshire.
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Male Chalkhill Blue visiting Hemp Agrimony - Swellshill Bank Glos.

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Wurzel
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Re: Nomad

Postby Wurzel » Fri Aug 29, 2014 8:53 pm

Fantastic chalk land shots Nomad :D That Chalk Carpet is brill :mrgreen: :D

Have a goodun

Wurzel

nomad
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Re: Nomad

Postby nomad » Sat Aug 30, 2014 5:39 am

Thank you Wurzel. I am pleased that you liked them. I am always pleased to find the Chalk Carpet because it is always occurs in such small numbers. Apart from the Wiltshire Downs, the last time I saw this moth was a couple of years ago at Lulworth Cove in Dorset. :)
Regards Peter,

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Re: Nomad

Postby Pauline » Sat Aug 30, 2014 5:54 am

Very interesting account of the Blues Peter and that is a stunning Small Copper :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

nomad
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Re: Nomad

Postby nomad » Sat Aug 30, 2014 8:38 pm

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Big skies and big views Salisbury Plain.
Thank you Pauline, I am pleased that you liked the post :) Today I had a pleasant time looking in the Tidworth - Sutton Bellinger area. It was mostly cloudy and windy, but there were variable amounts of sunshine . I wonder if people are still looking for Brown Hairstreak females, although by now perhaps few are because they probably would not be pristine. With the wet windy weather last night in the area I was going to search today, I did not expect to find any BH in good condition. I saw my first female Brownie at 10am along an old drove running alongside the Tidworth garrison golf club in Wiltshire. The sighting was a brief one because she skipped over a hedge into a sloe thicket. A fox in beautiful condition loped down the track while I was searching some scrub, stopping to stare at the strange man peering into the hedgerows. I found some nice Speckled Woods , but having no further luck I moved off down hill into Hampshire. I saw my second female at 11am in the grassland area, west of the master tree. I followed her for some way as she danced along, and although she basked for a while, my photographs were rather poor due to her awkward resting position. She was fully intact, but faded. Moving along the boundary hedge, I saw a female in better condition at 12.30am behind bramble and nettles and she flew over a tall bush. She reappeared where I could just get too and although not fresh, I got some decent photos. It was wonderful to see her basking for a few minutes before she flew high up and disappeared into the trees. Along the boundary hedge the Red Admirals were a delight feeding and basking on and near the bramble fruit. I also saw a nice Comma, I do not think it has been a good year for this species, I have only seen a few. Has anyone else noticed this.
In the grassland and scrub area where I saw the first female BH, there were some fresh Small Coppers and one male Adonis blue, probably on a visit from the nearby downland. A Clouded Yellow flew at a amazing speed along and up over the boundary hedgerow. All in all a worthwhile visit.
Regards Peter.

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Brown Hairstreak female today at Shipton Bellinger

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Red Admirals at Shipton Bellinger.

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Comma
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Speckled Wood Tidworth.
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Old drove Tidworth where I saw my first BH today.


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Small Copper Shipton Bellinger.

nomad
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Re: Nomad

Postby nomad » Sun Aug 31, 2014 7:30 pm

Even when the sun is shining not every day produces good butterflies :( . I had a visit today to Bernwood Forest concentrating on the meadow and Hell's coppice area. Firstly, I had a look at the M40 Compensation area. I am very concerned about this site, I do not know who manages it and I have mentioned before that the browsing height of the deer all around the Sloe hedges is now up to two meters. Has this decimated the Brown Hairstreak population?? Jeremy Thomas suggest up to meter is the preferred height for egg-laying BH females. After all the hard work in putting this important site together I am truly amazed that it is now being abandoned to the deer. :shock: What's going on :? . later searching for BH I had no luck at the meadows or in the adjacent part of Hell's Coppice, but it was nice to see all that young sloe. I think I found that large Ash tree on the corner of the coppice where Brown Hairstreaks were seen a month ago. Adrian Riley has posted that he has no trouble finding BH here, perhaps he means viewing them at that master Ash tree. I wonder if the females return to the Ash tree after egg-laying. There were very few butterflies about. I did see a Hummingbird Hawkmoth feeding at CreepingThistle and a Sparrow Hawk flew low along the hedge. I found some Sneezewort flowers among the sedges, perhaps a relic from when the low fields around the coppice were part of the large Menmarsh. There was a fully grown Large Elephant Hawkmoth caterpillar on Willowherb. I found some butterflies along one of the rides in Bernwood that were blue with Devil's Bit Scabious. It is surprising that the Marsh Fritillary has not been reintroduced here, there are miles of the foodplant along the rides, but I expect you would also need clearings. I seem to have made some friends, because a herd of young cows followed me around the meadow's hedgerows :D .
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Prime BH habitat Bernwood Meadows.
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Green-veined White Hell's Coppice
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View from Hell's Coppice Oxon.
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Red Admiral basking Bernwood Forest
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Brimstone feeding at Fleabane.
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Large Elephant Hawkmoth caterpillar
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Sneezewort
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A golden flower of the lovely Corn-sow Thistle
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Joining in BH hunting.

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Wurzel
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Re: Nomad

Postby Wurzel » Sun Aug 31, 2014 9:22 pm

Lovely Green-veined White and stunning Small Coppers Nomad :D Shipton was great today with possibly as many as 10 females and a male tagging along too :D

Have a goodun

Wurzel

nomad
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Re: Nomad

Postby nomad » Mon Sep 01, 2014 4:52 am

Hi Wurzel, I thought I would give the Oxon woods another go, but Shipton Bellinger seemed the place to be . Any BH photos of your visit.

Regards Peter.


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