4 June 2014: Hackpen Hill and the Devil's Punchbowl

Burnet Moth on Spotted Orchid
Burnet Moth on Spotted Orchid

Leaders: Gillian and Michael Taylor

It was a wet morning approaching the Ridgeway car park by Sparsholt Firs, but it moderated by 11.00 ready for eleven of us to set off East along the Ridgeway. We were rewarded almost immediately with sightings of yellowhammer and whitethroat on the wayside bushes, before we dropped down from the Ridgeway, through a field of rape to the kissing gate and onto Hackpen Hill. We were looking for the narrow-bordered five spot Burnet moth which Gillian and Michael said had been there in great numbers on the previous sunny days, but were not evident in the dull conditions – at first! But then we saw one, static on a leaf, and then we saw many - so many we were anxious about stepping on them. It was a revelation to some of us how good it is for identification of butterflies and moths on such a day, when they are not flying. So we saw Common blue (male & female), Cinnabar moth, Narrow-bordered five spot Burnet moth, Small heath, Wood tiger moth, Brown Argus and a Small tortoiseshell caterpillar.

Walking round the side of Hackpen Hill towards the Devil’s Punch Bowl, we also concentrated on our botanical identification, noting Mouse-ear, Rock rose, Salad Burnett, Eyebright, Wild thyme, Spotted orchid, Yellow rattle, Tufted milkwort, Quaking grass, Bird’s foot trefoil, Prickly sow thistle, Germander speedwell, Mignonette, Field madder, Pyramidal orchid, Fragrant orchid, and Milkwort amongst many others.

Dropping down into the Devil’s Punch Bowl, a curlew flew over, swallows were sweeping up the hillside and meadow pipit and corn bunting were in the bushes. So what with Skylark, Buzzard, Red Kite, Swift and others it was also a very nice ornithological walk. On such a damp day, the slugs and snails were of course out including brown-lipped and common garden snails, chafer beetles and one glossy-green beetle which remained unidentified.

It was a really nice field trip and we were very grateful to Gillian and Michael for leading it and giving us their expert help.

Hugh Summers


Species list of Flora and Fauna

FlowersLepidopteraOther InvertsBirds & Mammals
Bulbous Buttercup Common Blue Grasshopper nymph Red-legged Partridge egg
Creeping Buttercup Cinnabar Large Black Slug Chaffinch
Red Clover Small Heath Garden Snail Yellowhammer
Daisy Small Tortoiseshell larva Brown-lipped Snail Skylark
Ribwort Plantain Brown Argus White-lipped Snail (?) Red Kite
Birdsfoot Trefoil Wood Tiger Garden Chafer Buzzard 
Milkwort sp. Mother-of-Pearl larva   Whitethroat
Red Campion Foxmoth larva   Blackbird
White Campion Narrow-bordered 5 spot Burnet   Jackdaw
Wild Thyme     Wood Pigeon
Rock Rose     Rook
Salad Burnet     Swift
Eyebright sp.     Curlew
Yellow Rattle     Swallow
Prickly Sowthistle     Meadow Pipit
Elder     Corn Bunting
Germander Speedwell      
Wild Mignonette      
Quaking Grass     Mole (dead)
Cut-leaved Cranesbill      
White Clover      
Spotted Orchid      

Michael &Gillian Taylor