Wildlife Notes for Great Ovens Heath by John Wright - December

With hindsight, all the dire predictions of severe weather in December proved to be unfounded and the month started mild and cloudy. As I walked past the southern end of the sand quarry a flock of perhaps ten or a dozen long-tailed tits appeared, maintaining close contact with each other through their urgent 'tsee-tsee-tsee' calls as they moved between exposed open areas. Their tiny beaks, ideally suited for snatching minute insects and spiders, mean that they must spend most of the day actively feeding in order to survive the long winter nights.

Long-tailed tit

Wildlife Notes for Great Ovens Heath by John Wright - November

The month started with a mild day, blue sky and plenty to see. In just over two hours I saw or heard ten dartford warblers, four of which were singing males. Clearly the Great Ovens population has started to increase and now we must hope for a mild winter. Several stonechats, linnets and a yellowhammer were still on the heath and temperatures were high enough for a red admiral and common darter dragonflies to be on the wing. I even saw a late season field grasshopper.

Male Stonechat

Wildlife Notes for Great Ovens Heath by John Wright - October

October can be a fascinating month as the weather switches between breezy wet days and mild sunny days. Throughout the month some birds are moving through and other residents are preparing for the onset of winter.
The 5th October was windy and overcast with several meadow pipits and pied wagtails flying overhead, supplemented with a redpoll and a couple of crossbills. These last two species were numerous in Morden Bog throughout October and large numbers have also been recorded along the south coast.

Sika Stag

dig blog post 3

Monday 17th was our first day at Holton Lee. Digging this new site was a last-minute arrangement as the Roman Road dig finished earlier than expected.

de-turfing
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dig blog post 1

The first day of the dig got off to a good start, with eight diggers getting to work in the 15-metre-long trench. The diggers came from as near as Sandford, and as far as Bournemouth, and ranged from the experienced to the first-timer.

Getting stuck in: diggers on day 1
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Wildlife Notes for Great Ovens Heath by John Wright - September

A sunny day on 1st September resulted in several butterflies, including gatekeeper, grayling, common blue and peacock all putting in an appearance.
In addition to emerald damselflies and common darters, a southern hawker dragonfly was also on the prowl. This large species is common in Dorset and appart from its distinctive colours, is also memorable for its tendancy to come up close to investigate you as you walk through the area where it is catching its prey.

Peacock Butterfly

The Digbys - founders of Sandford?

The origins of Sandford go back to the middle of the 19th century when the Digby family owned the land now occupied by the village. Captain Henry Digby, who owned the Minterne Estate north of Dorchester, bought the land in 1814. He had distinguished himself as captain of one of Nelson's ships at the Battle of Trafalgar.

Admiral Sir Henry Digby
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