Hackpen Hill and Crowhole Bottom

John C writes:

Fourteen of us got well and truly soaked when we visited this steep chalk-grassland site near Childrey on 7 July 2021. After about half an hour admiring vast numbers of Pyramidal and Common Spotted Orchids halfway up the side of the Devil’s Punchbowl the heavens threw everything they had at us for fifteen or twenty minutes. It was certainly better to go on with the rain at our backs than turn back and face it. By the time we got down to Crowhole Bottom, however, the sun was out again and plenty of Butterflies were active, notably Marbled Whites, several Dark Green Fritillaries and a number of Ringlets. Alas, we didn’t find any of the Green Hairstreaks for which the site is known, but the sharper-eared of us heard the unmistakable ‘wet-my-lips wet-my-lips’ of a Quail in a nearby corn field. Another plentiful species was Yellow-wort, a member of the Gentian/Centaury family. My favourite, however, was the rather glamorous Ichneumon in the picture.

My thanks are due to Malcolm, who knows the site well and who was due to lead us. Unfortunately he was indisposed but kindly gave me comprehensive directions and suggestions.