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WEATHER: very foggy first thing, warm sunshine later. 23C

It was quite a shock when I looked out of the window at 5:30am because a thick fog lay across the meadow I couldn't see further than our garden fence. I made up mind to forget walking in the valley and instead I headed out of the village and drove 9 miles to Batcombe.

Batcombe Church

Why Batcombe you may ask, well I'll tell you. Batcombe is the place where, I am reliably informed, the WILLOW TIT still breeds. As you know Willow Tits are now a very rare breeding species in the UK and it would lovely nestling on my isolation list.

The fog further down the valley

It was a good decision as far as the weather was concerned because as I drove up the hill heading southward on the A37 towards Dorchester I climbed above the fog into glorious sunshine. Within ten minutes I was parking the car and heading down the lane into Batcombe Village. It is truly a beautiful place, rolling hills, lush meadows and ancient woodland, the village itself is also very picturesque.

The downside was that I walked for a mile down a steep lane and I knew that at some point I would have to walk back up, however, I could see on the map that a footpath cut across the meadows, up to some woodland before leading back to where I parked the car. 

a Blackcap delivering its melodic song

I noted Mistle Thrush, Common Buzzard, Raven, Greenfinch, Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Blue tit, Great Tit and all the common garden birds. Lots of Swallows dashed across the meadows and the church had the obligatory Jackdaws around the belfry.

this is called a Tortoise Shield Bug

As I crossed the first meadow, I could hear Blackcaps and Whitethroats and Skylarks. The second meadow was on a much steeper slope, I took my time and worked my way up to a wood where I got a nice picture of a Blackcap. 

The path led up to the side of the wood to a very steep escarpment, that got my lungs going and my heart pumping. The area looked great for butterflies, I saw Common Blue and Small Heath. At the top it leveled out onto a couple of very large grass fields that had been recently mowed for silage. Birdless  and soleless. 

I got back to the car a little exhausted, I never found the correct path to the WILLOW TIT site and I shall have to return any day soon. I was back home by 9:30am. I collapsed into an armchair and dribbled my coffee down my face.

Dawn and I had planned an outing for today, a picnic lunch to be taken on  Powerstock Common. This is a lovely nature reserve 14 miles from home, it has a lot of woodland, some open flower meadows, some boggy terrain and wide woodland glades. It is managed for butterflies with the Silver Washed Fritillary being the star of the show. I hadn't been there for 15 years and so I didn't know what to expect.

the disused train track on Powerstock Common

It was lovely in the sunshine, a gentle breeze kept us cool as we took a 2 mile circular route, the first half of the walk was along a disused railway line, it had short-turf grassy banks covered in flowers which is ideal for a number of butterfly species. We only found half a dozen, the most common was Small Heath, Dingy Skipper and Common Blue, but we also saw Speckled Wood, Green Veined White and Large White.

Dingy Skipper

Birds were few and far between, the woodland was quite dense and the scrub was similar, We heard far more than we saw: a Green Woodpecker, lots of Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, a few Willow Warblers, Song Thrush, Robin, Wren, Dunnock and we did see a Garden Warbler after putting in some effort.

our picnic site

We sat in one of the meadows to eat our picnic lunch, not a sole could be seen or heard, it was perfectly tranquil and relaxing. The view across miles of farmland meadows was gorgeous, we enjoyed a lovely hour sitting there.

We completed the walk with nothing new to report, so we drove back home arriving around 2:30pm. We spent the rest of our afternoon sitting in the garden reading and watching the world go by.