6 August 2014: Aston Upthorpe and Oven Bottom

Leader: Malcolm Brownsword

We met at the old granary, South off the A417 opposite the road to Aston Upthorpe, on a very pleasant warm morning. There were nine of us, including Malcolm who was our guide and local expert. As we headed along the track beside Langdon Wood, the butterflies were about in numbers and already very active. Our progress became quite leisurely as those of us who were less expert were guided in the distinguishing features which enabled us to sort out Common Blues from Chalkhill Blues and so on. We reached the old dew pond which is noted in maps. It was pretty dried out and perhaps had penetrations in its clay layer, but the presence of a clump of reed at its centre reassured of its character. From there we crossed over into the shallow valley running down to Oven Bottom. It was warm and pleasant with masses of blues and of course a carpet of wild flowers reflecting the chalky character of the Downs. It was at this point that we first spotted a Clouded Yellow flying rapidly. Its bright yellow colour made it stand out even against the ragwort. Later, as we lunched on the slope at Oven Bottom, we saw two or three more Clouded Yellows and they rested long enough for us to get the binoculars on them properly. After the lunch break we drifted back up the valley and on to Juniper Hill and then down Juniper Valley between the old juniper bushes. This was a botanical outing too with quite a number of plants picked out, which are detailed below. In particular we were able to see and compare three Bedstraws – Lady's Bedstraw, Hedge Bedstraw and Squinancy Wort – and six thistles - Spear, Welted, Woolly, Creeping, Dwarf and Marsh.
It was nice also to see Spiny Restharrow which is on the Oxon Rare Plants register. On the way back, we noted a Common Buckthorn with its green berries – another calcareous soil lover. Altogether we were out for about three hours and we are very grateful to Malcolm for an excellent field trip and for sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm with us.

Butterflies:
Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood, Gatekeeper, Brimstone, Meadow Brown, Small White, Large White, Peacock, Common Blue, Chalkhill Blue, Brown Argus, Small Heath, Small Copper, Small Skipper, Green Veined White, Clouded Yellow, Red Admiral.
Flowers:
Agrimony, Greater Knapweed, Silverweed, Scabious, Red Bartsia, Wild Parsnip,
Harebell, Wild Basil, Chicory, Selfheal, Burnet Saxifrage, Ladies Bedstraw, Mignonette, Salad Burnet, Eyebright, Pale Toadflax, Yellow Toadflax, Clustered Bellflower, Rock Rose, Spiny Restharrow, Squinancy Wort, Horseshoe Vetch, Bird's-foot Trefoil.
 
Participants:
Sally Ainslie, Graham Bateman, David Guyoncourt, Jackie Hudson, Felicity Jenkins, Hugh Summers, Mike Taylor, Gillian Taylor.
(8 total)

Hugh Summers