After a couple of tip offs of some great butterfly and dragonfly areas in areas I’ve not really walked before (or at least not for a very long time), I headed out to the North Bucks way, to explore Oakhill Wood and Tattenhoe Park on a great Butterfly and Dragonfly Walk, eventually ending up at one of my regular haunts of Howe Park Wood.
Butterfly and Dragonfly Walk
Attempting to make an early start, I headed to one of our local bus stops, only to have the bus be 5 mins late, that lateness had a knock on effect as it meant I missed my connecting bus, so my aim of being out in the field by 07:30 turned out to be nearer to 08:30, just as the school kids were filling the shops and blocking the paths!
With the sticky, early heat, of a typical British summers day, you know the ones, over cast, and so humid it feels like wading through toffee, I was soon in amongst the wildlife. small grassy meadows lined the path, fenced off from shorter grasses of the footpath verges, I watched as Meadow Browns and Marbled Whites flutter between flowers, tantalisingly out of reach behind the wooden barriers. Common Green Grasshoppers chirrupped from within the long grasses, hidden until disturbed by foot steps, when they leapt high and fast away from me.
|Common Green Grasshopper|
Entering Oakhill Woods along the, high hedged, North Bucks Way, was like entering a place separate from Milton Keynes, there was no sound of traffic, and barely any sound of human activity at all. Tall pines headed off to my right at first, but soon a mix of conifer and deciduous woodland stretched off down slope from me. In the thick bramble, hoverflies, bees and wasps buzzed about the light pink flowers, gathering sweet nectar as they flew. Yellow and Black Longhorn beetle flew passed, alien like in their appearance while in flight, one quickly landed on Cow Parsley, offering stunning views.
|Yellow & Black Longhorn Beetle|
Speckled wood and Ringlet butterflies flitted about the areas of dappled light, while annoying Horseflies buzzed my face and attempted to feast off my arms and legs, an abundance of the latter seemed to follow me for much of my walk, frustrating me at times, I could have used the long brush like tail of my local Konik ponies to keep them at bay.
In a ride at the edge of the wood, fairly close to the large high security prison, I startled a Muntjac deer, or it startled me, as it dashed with ferocious speed across my path and off into the dense undergrowth. Large Skipper and Small Tortoise shell flew in amongst the Meadow Browns and Ringlets of before, and suddenly a large orange butterfly dropped from high in the canopy, floating in large wings, my first Silver Washed Fritilliary in the local area, alighted on distant brambles.
|Silver Washed Fritilliary (very heavy crop)|
Views over buckinghamshire
I carried on along the woodland path, passing through wonderfully dappled trees, and on out of the wood into open countryside, at least off to my right, to my left, modern houses have sprung up, but in keeping with the country feel they have been thoughtful designed in rich brown stone, rather than the usual dull bricks of Milton Keynes housing estates.
Passing fields of wheat, growing fast and strong in the now beautiful sunshine, the Buckinghamshire countryside stretched off before me, rolling fields of greens and browns. Large wheels of hay, already baled by the farmers dotted the fields.
|Bales of Hay|
I soon arrived at Tattenhoe Park, a place I have visited just once before while on my 25 mile challenge walk earlier in the year, but an area I have heard good things about, especially when it comes to Odonata!
As I approached the largest of the linear complex of ponds, that make up Tattenhoe Park, I was astounded at the number of Dragonflies I could see hawking over the water, several blue and green Emperor Dragonflies commanded the skies, while dozens of 4 Spotted Chasers darted about all over the pond, Broad bodied chasers and Black tailed skimmers made up the rest of the numbers of the larger species.
In the margins Azure Damselflies mingled with Common Blue and Blue Tailed Damselflies, their various amounts of electric blue dazzling in the summer sunshine. Newly hatched Common Darter occasionally dashed out from the reeds into the long grasses; hiding in the shadows of a willow the metallic green and dusty blue of an Emerald Damselfly could be found, it was a truely wonderful place to spend an hour.
|Common Blue Damselfly|
With the sun beginning to really heat up, the exposed banks of the Tattenhoe Park ponds was becoming a little too much, so I headed off, the breeze of walking and the occasional shade cooling me a little as I made my way through the park.
Howe Park Wood
The final stop on my whistle stop tour of butterfly and dragonfly sites of Milton Keynes, was Howe Park Wood. The area seemed quiet compared to the dragonfly extravaganza of Tattenhoe Park or butterfly rich Oakhill. But there were quite a few Comma flying about as well as some stunning Marbled White.
I ended my Butterfly and Dragonfly walk having seen 12 species of butterfly and 10 species of Dragonfly. A very successful walk.
|Variable Longhorn Beetle (I think)|
|Four Spotted Chaser head on|
|Another Four Spotted Chaser|
|Closer capture of Four Spotted Chaser (they liked this perch)|
|Blue-tailed Damselfly mating|
|Common Green Grasshopper (I think)|
|Another Marbled White|
The Butterfly and Dragonfly Walk Route
For more great local walks be sure to check out my Milton Keynes Walks page.