Happy new year.
As promised I have done a bit of exploration of likely hampshire sites visiting three squares adjacent the Sussex borders.
In all I have spent about twelve hours searching looking for likely habitat and egg hunting with zero return- for eggs - yet.
The Sussex border squares - mostly adjacent the Eastern fringes of the Queen Elizabeth Country Park - have turned up limited areas of blackthorn and what I have found has generally been severely flailed - although the suckers have been missed mostly. However, in consolation, I have discovered a lovely remote little nature reserve that looks perfect for Duke of Burgundy .
In conversation with Peter Eales he mentioned that eggs have been found widely, if at low densities, around Noar Hill and I know there have been reports from Selborne Common across the valley so I paid a visit yesterday. Selborne is of course where Gilbert White wrote probably the first natural history book and I parked adjacent the museum and walked up onto the common. Adjacent the footpath from the car park is a private field with extensive blackthorn and suckers extending into the field - very reminiscent of the habitat at at Steyning. The common itself is quite elevated and revealed some very promising areas of habitat similar to that where I have founds eggs at other sites - but none found on this visit. The area is only about a mile from the established colony at Noar Hill which you can see across the valley, and with extensive hedgerows linking the two I will be making more visits as I am certain it will turn up trumps.
Interestingly I found my first blackthorn blossom of the year yesterday, and even, bizarrely, a small shoot with fresh leaves!
Happy new year.