Porton Down - Isle of Wight Woods
Isle of Wight Woods
Mating Duke of Burgundies
Please Note: This site is not open to the general public as it is an active Ministry of Defence Site.
Porton Down is one of, if not, the best-preserved chalk grasslands in Europe and is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) under the Wildlife and Countryside Act. The low level of human impact and development has enabled the man-made, semi-natural grassland to flourish and encourage a wide range of biodiversity. As a result, Porton Down boasts many rare species such as the Lady Orchid, the Duke of Burgundy butterfly and the Stone Curlew.
An extensive conservation programme at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory’s (Dstl) site at Porton Down, near Salisbury, has dramatically increased the knowledge and amount of rare wildlife on the site.
A wide variety of flora can be found on the site, these include : White Helleborine, Broad-leaved Helleborine, Common Orchid, Heath spotted Orchid, Greater butterfly Orchid, Fragrant orchid, Bee Orchid, Birds Nest Orchid, Common Twayblade, Lily of the Valley, Deadly Nightshade, Sanicle, Wild Strawberry, Primrose, Aquilega, Violet, Cyprus Spurge, Wood Avens, Salad Burnett and Vipers Bugloss, some of these are extremely rare.
Some of the best areas of Primroses I have ever encountered were seen in Isle of Wight Woods whilst surveying for the Duke of Burgundy butterfly. Carpets of them were encountered in semi-shaded areas under large tracts of Hazel and Silver Birch thickets, this could be the largest woodland colony of Duke of Burgundy in the country.
Butterflies/moths/insects: In the spring there can be found a wide variety of these including Dingy skipper; Small Blue; Green Hairstreak; Speckled Wood; Grizzled Skipper; Small Heath; Painted Lady; Duke of Burgundy, Marsh Fritillary; Brown Argus; Pearl-bordered Fritillary; Wood Tiger Moth; Forester Moth; Broad-Bordered Bee Hawk and Narrow Bordered Bee Hawk Moth and Garden Chafer Beetle.
In the summer there are some of the best counts of Dark Green Fritillary in the country here and also the rare Silver Spotted Skipper along with Brown Hairstreak can be encountered in the Autumn.
Nationally rare birds can be seen or heard such as Buzzard; Kestrel; Peregrine Falcon and the Red Kite. The Great Bustard can also be seen as it has been recently re-introduced to Salisbury Plain close by, plus the nationally rare Stone Curlew and more common birds like House Martin; Skylark, Blackcap; Garden Warbler; Willow Warbler; Cuckoo, Jackdaw; Blackcap, and Chiffchaff can be seen, to name but a few.