15.10 - 15.30. One Essex Skipper confirmed. Interesting comparison to be had with adjacent Burcombe Down (sightings reported separately). Burcombe has been heavily grazed by sheep, which have stripped the Down of most nectar sources. Butterflies are present, but mostly on the ground until disturbed, and there is little joie de vivre on show. You get the impression life is a struggle. Hop over the gate and on to Hoopside and it is a different world. Sheep have only just been let on to the hillside, and have had little effect so far; large amounts of marjoram in particular are present along the path at the foot of the steep slope, and greater knapweed. Similar numbers of butterflies as Burcombe, but far more aerial activity, territorial spats, and butterflies chasing one another. I know it is anthropomorphic of me, but there seemed to be more exuberance on show. I think I know where I would want to be if I were a butterfly!

Simon Crampin