Orange Tip Butterflies

Orange tip butterflies are abundant along the Nickey Line this month, attracted by the large amounts of garlic mustard (Jack by the hedge), one of their larval foodplants, which edge the pathway. Garlic mustard is an erect growing plant of about two feet in height, which flowers this month, with a head of small white flowers and heart shaped leaves. Look for evidence of the leaves being nibbled and see if you can find the orange tip caterpillars. The female orange tip butterfly is white, so likely to be confused with other species, but both male and female orange tips have very attractive underwings, which are mottled with greenish-yellow (only likely to be seen if the butterfly has settled).

Orange Tip
Garlic Mustard

Orangetip male and Garlic Mustard

Other butterfly species seen this month include peacock, brimstone, small white, holly blue, green-veined white and speckled wood, although others can be expected, e.g. painted lady and small tortoiseshell.

The Summer Migrants

All of our summer migrants will have arrived by the end of the month, and a number of species will be using the habitat provided by the Nickey Line for breeding.



The cuckoo is familiar to us all, and may be heard from the line, but there are also many different warbler species to be found, best identified by their songs which are sung only by the male birds.



Bird Song

Knowledge of bird song greatly increases the chances of appreciating the presence of birds, and is a prerequisite of successful bird surveying.

The blackcap (left) and garden warbler (right) have very similar songs but are easy to differentiate when seen. The garden warbler has a breathless impression to its song, and has been described as the ‘garbled’ warbler, whereas the blackcap has shorter snatches of song, with a richness equalled by few other birds.

Black Cap Male And Female
Garden Warbler Bathing
Whitethroat On Hawthorn

The whitethroat (left) has a short scratchy song, and is widely distributed along the pathway, whereas the chiffchaff (right) is only likely to be found in woodland habitats, such as Yew Wood and behind Ambrose Lane near the main line.

Willow Warbler


The willow warbler, which is very difficult to distinguish from the chiffchaff by sight, likes a young woodland habitat and hedgerows, and is less likely to be seen. It has a beautiful evocative descending song.



You can see the differences and hear the songs of these birds just by putting the bird name in the search engine and then when it comes up with RSPB and the bird name, click that. Each bird’s details are given and by clicking audio you can hear the song.

The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) website contains advice on how to distinguish black caps and garden warblers by their song and appearance, and likewise the chiffchaff and garden warbler. Go to BTO homepage, click about birds and then bird ID workshops. You will be able to obtain a quick, instructive video on what to look and listen for by selecting the species in the options window.

The Smallest Town Hall Clock

Town Hall Clock Roger ReynoldsOne of the most charming but difficulty plants to find along the line is the Town Hall Clock (Adoxa moschatellina). It has low growing leaves and tiny greenish flowers which sometimes grow on the rich soil formed by rotting leaves under trees along the edge of the track. The flowers give the plant its name because they occur as clusters of 5, four facing outwards like a clock tower and one on top facing upwards. The top flower has 4 petals emphasising the cubic shape of their arrangement whereas side ones have 5 - a very unusual arrangement.