Common Hill Nature Reserve - June Update

 On our previous visit to Common Hill on 24th April, the stars of the show were, undoubtedly, the cowslips and early purple orchids. For one reason or another, we didn't manage to visit in May despite the best of intentions. So a return visit in early June (3rd) was a must. We took a packed lunch and spent an enjoyable two hours just wandering around.

[Edit: We made a return visit a few days later (7th June) to confirm the ID of some of the flowers seen on the first visit. As a result, a few more examples of flora & fauna found at the Common Hill Nature Reserve have been added along with some corrections. I am reliably informed by Mary that some plants are difficult to identify!  Sometimes you need to see the plant at all its development stages (e.g. buds, flowers, seeds) to be absolutely sure of the ID. This is not possible on sporadic visits and without taking specimens (only digital photos are taken). This post was updated on 7th June 2022 with the latest information and the best IDs based on the available data] 

There were four highlights to this visit; starting with this pair of courting Wood Whites at Monument Hill - captured by Mary on her phone after exhibiting considerable stealthiness to get close enough. 

Wood Whites (Courtship)

We had seen plenty of males, with their characteristic slow & weak flight, but none had landed for that photo opportunity...

Wood White in flight!

...until this particular male spotted a female and the courtship began!

Wood Whites (Monument Hill)

As we enter North Meadow from the 'car park', we see a 'typical' meadow scene - something has already caught Mary's attention...

Entrance to North Meadow looking towards the Orchard

Buttercup and pignut form speckles of yellow and white in the greensward while at ground level the reddish-pink flowers of red clover can be seen. At the margins, close to the hedgerow, hogweed and oxeye daisies have established a small foothold...

Hidden amongst the green, white and yellow is another gem (Highlight #2)...

Common Spotted-Orchid

...the Common Spotted-Orchid which, as the name suggests, is the UK's least rare orchid. There can be quite a variation in colour but they are all Common-Spotted.

Common Spotted-Orchid (Common Hill)

Common Spotted-Orchid (Common Hill)

Looking back towards the car park entrance to North Meadow from the corner of the old orchard...

North Meadow looking westwards

...before reaching the bench, next to the exit onto the Wye Valley Way, where we enjoyed lunch and the view looking back from whence we came...

View from the picnic bench

Sufficiently fortified, we commenced our recording of flowering plants in North Meadow, Monument Hill and Round's Meadow - always keeping a lookout for any fauna that crossed our paths. This brings us to Highlight #3...

Bird's Nest Orchid (Common Hill Nature Reserve, June 2022)

The Bird's Nest Orchid derives its name from the tangled root system which is said to look like a badly-made bird's nest. A specimen of this orchid, just outside the reserve, has been observed for a number of years but there has been no sign of it this year.

The final Highlight (#4) was this difficult-to-spot (until you find the first one!) common milkwort. Lying low in the grass, this plant also comes in purple/pink/white forms.

Common Milkwort (Common Hill Nature Reserve, June 2022)

Common Milkwort (Common Hill Nature Reserve, June 2022)

Finally, before getting to the list of flora and fauna seen on this visit, a couple of photos of Monument Hill...

Looking up Monument Hill

Looking down Monument Hill

We visited Common Hill on 3rd June 2022 between 2 pm and 4 pm. It was warm, sunny and bright with a gentle breeze. Back home in Hereford, our weather station recorded temperatures of 23/24 ℃ over this 2-hour period though it was somewhat cooler at the reserve. 

Flora (flowering):
  • Bird's Nest Orchid
  • Black Bryony
  • Bramble
  • Broad-leaved Willowherb
  • Bulbous Buttercup
  • Bush Vetch
  • Changing Forget-me-not
  • Common Bird's-foot-trefoil
  • Common Milkwort
  • Common Mouse-ear
  • Common Nettle
  • Common Sorrel
  • Common Spotted-Orchid
  • Common Twayblade
  • Common Vetch
  • Cow Parsley
  • Dandelion
  • Dog-rose
  • Dog's Mercury
  • Early Purple Orchid
  • Field Forget-me-not
  • Germander Speedwell
  • Goosegrass
  • Herb Robert
  • Hogweed
  • Hop Trefoil
  • Lesser Stitchwort
  • Marsh Thistle
  • Meadow Buttercup
  • Narrow-leaved Bird's-Foot-Trefoil
  • Ox-eye Daisy
  • Pignut
  • Red Clover
  • Ribwort Plantain
  • Rough Hawkbit
  • Selfheal
  • Short-fruited Willowherb
  • Smooth Tare
  • Thyme-leaved Speedwell
  • Wood Avens
  • Wood Spurge
  • Yellow Pimpernel
  • Yellow Rattle
  • Wood White
  • Speckled Wood
  • Meadow Brown
  • Grass Rivulet Moth
  • Burnet Companion Moth
  • Chiff Chaff
  • Blackbird
  • Chaffinch
  • Crow
  • Great Tit
  • Blue Tit
  • Wood Pigeon
  • Song Thrush
  • Buzzard


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