Downs Diary


In July, the Bristol onion is at its peak and is a must see. You can find them on the stony outcrops of the Gully or in the Brunel garden near the suspension bridge. The Avon Gorge is the only site where this rare plant grows in the UK.

The meadows are full of flowers such as scabious, knapweed, clover and yellow rattle. Lime blossom fills the air with a sweet fragrance.  On wet warm days the fairy’s bonnet fungi can be seen.

This is the best time to see the young peregrine falcons that left the nest in June honing their flying and hunting skills.  You can see them swooping low over the meadow or grabbing leaves as target practice.  They can be seen playing with each other and calling out to their parents for food. If you’re lucky you might see a parent passing food to one of the chicks in mid-air!



Marbled white and meadow brown butterflies can be seen flying to and fro on hot days. However, they cling to the long meadow grass if it’s raining or cold as butterflies need the warmth of the sun to be able to fly. The meadow grasses are long and ripple majestically in the summer breeze while meadow and field grasshoppers also make their presence known by their noisy strategy for attracting a mate. Listen for the males that ‘sing’ by rubbing their back legs against their wings.

The adult silky wave moth is quite plain in appearance, but as the English name suggests, has a silky lustre to the wing surface. It inhabits the open grassy area of the Gorge, where there are low bushes. The larvae feed on common rock-rose. The Avon gorge is the only English site for this rare moth.

Photographs © Bethany Sewell, Kelly Thomas, Mark, Parsons