Serapias lingua, 30 May 2018

After the discovery of Serapias lingua, Greater Tongue Orchid in Essex last year we were keen to see them in their prime this year. And boy are they in their prime at the moment! Jus and I counted 36 flowering plants, all of which were in tip top condition. Jus did however manage to lay in a pile of dog shit while at the site! A Holly Blue also showed nicely nearby.

Moving on we had a timely message about 2 Black-winged Stilts which had just been found at Pipp's Ford so we scooted along there to get some distant but very acceptable views with Little Grebe and Stock Dove also there.

With just enough light left we managed to locate a single Birds Nest Orchid following some kindly given directions. Photographing it was a real challenge in the almost dark conditions! A male Sparrowhawk dashed over the field on the walk back and then on the way home a Little Owl showed on a telegraph pole near Stowupland.

Yearlist = 209

Greater Tongue Orchid, Serapias lingua

Holly Blue

      Birds Nest Orchid

Confusing Dacts and Military Manoeuvres, 29 May 2018

A lovely evening out orchiding after work. I visited Theltenham Fen, a site I know well on the Norfolk/Suffolk border. The show of orchids here at the moment is spectacular with the mosy numerous being 'incarnata' Early Marsh Orchids. Amongst them a few Southern Marsh Orchids are to be found, just a single Common Spotted coming out and then hybrids! Oh my word there are a bewildering array. Some who's parentage is reasonably clear but others not so. Southern Marsh x Common Spotted and Early Marsh x Southern Marsh were picked out but who knows what else lurks there. A single specimen of what would once have been called Pugsley's or Narrow-leaved Marsh Orchid was also found. A Cuckoo was giving it some at the back of the fen.

'incarnata' Early Marsh Orchids

Southern Marsh Orchids

Hybrid, presumed Common Spotted x Southern or Early Marsh

Hybrid, presumed Southern Marsh x Early Marsh

 Hybrid, presumed Southern Marsh x Common Spotted

The orchid once known as Pugsley's Marsh Orchid

 Common Spotted Orchid

With plenty of evening left I decided on a quick dash down to the Rex Graham Reserve down near Barton Mills. This is the first time I've visited outside of their annual open days but the gate on the smaller of the 2 chalk pits was open so I could easily go in a fill my boots with Military Orchids and a few Common Twayblades to round of a splendid evening.

Military Orchids

 Common Twayblades

My birthday weekend in Derbyshire, 25 - 28 May 2018

A long weekend in the Derbyshire Peak District for my birthday. We'd booked a B&B in Rowsley for 4 days of walking, chilling and of course a bit of birding and botanising!

The Friday was wet so we visited Haddon Hall and by mid-afternoon it had dried u so we went walking. A Dipper by the footbridge in Bakewell was a nice yeartick but a walk on Stanton Moor was in very thick fog so a singing Tree Pipit, loads of Willow Warblers and Stonechat was all I could muster.

On Saturday it had brightened up so we took ourselves up onto Stanage Edge for a long ridge walk up to High Neb and back round. Along and just below the ridge were c5 pairs of Ring Ouzels with some great views of singing birds to be had. 3 Red Grouse were also new birds for the year and I also added Raven, Common Buzzard, Cuckoo, Stonechat and Reed Bunting. One of my main aims for the weekend was to re-aquaint myself with an orchid I'd not seen for about 15 years. Our first attempt that afternoon resulted in failure with just loads of Early Purple Orchids, 2 Wall Browns and 3 Dingy Skippers being seen. I settled on the thought that they must have not emerged yet because the Early Purples were all still in pristine condition. Until I got confirmation they were out earlier in the week! Cue an trip back in the early evening, more gate and barbed wire climbing and within a few minutes I'd found my quarry - Burnt Orchids! On one small area of west-facing hillside I went on to find 12 plants. After having my fill of them we retired to a nearby pub for a celebratory pint and a meal!

Sunday saw us walking Padley Gorge from Grindleford Station where I eventually located Pied Flycatcher after much looking plus Nuthatch, Grey Wagtails and 2 Treecreepers. An afternoon walk along Curbar and Froggatt Edges revealed virtually nothing except lovely views. Another Dipper was on the Derwent at Rowsley on an after dinner stroll.

We did a short walk along the Cromford Canal in the Derwent Valley on Monday morning which resulted in Garden Warbler and Grey Wagtail but little else until a singing Nightingale by the A6175 at Holmewood, in NE Derbyshire on the way home.

Yearlist = 208

Burnt Orchids

    Dingy Skipper

Amazing variety of paler Green-winged Orchids in Suffolk, 20 May 2018

A visit to my favourite local site for Green-winged Orchids before they start to go over. This meadow in Suffolk has by far the greatest variety of colour forms of the species that I've seen, varying from pure white 'alba' right through to the darkest purple specimens. Here are a selection starting with a stunning 'alba'.

The previous day, worthy of mention was a singing Black Redstart in central Norwich off Guildhall Hill when Belinda and I went for lunch in 'The Library'


A long weekend in Dorset, heavily featuring orchids! 11-13 May 2018

To say it was just a trip to Dorset would be wrong because we did take a detour to a site in Oxfordshire on the way and also ventured into Somerset and even Devon briefly!
We managed to find a good deal in Beaminster on Airbnb in the week and plans were hatched.

Out stop on the way was at the lovely Hartslock reserve near Goring-on-Thames. My target here were the numerous spectacular Lady x Monkey Orchid hybrids and they didn't disappoint with their flamboyance! Just 1 Lady Orchid and 2 Monkey Orchids (the latter just emerging) were nearby. Waking the hillside I also found a small group of Pasqueflowers, loads of Chalk Milkwort plus a single White Helleborine still to flower. Red Kites soared overhead and both Green Hairstreak and Dingy Skipper were also nice additions. We walked back along the Thames to the car in good spirits.

Monkey Orchid

 Dingy Skipper

Green Hairstreak

 Monkey x Lady Orchid hybrids

Monkey Orchid

Lady Orchid


 Chalk Milkwort

We continued our rather torturous onward journey getting stuck in traffic on the A303 near Stonehenge. This wasn't as bad as it sounds though because a delightful male Montagu's Harrier flew over while we sat stationary! A Yellow Wagtail did similarly a little further on.

My main target for the day was at a roadside spot in West Dorset (which shall remain secret). After much fuss, lots of looking, walking backwards and forwards and phore calls to the ever-helpful Sean Cole I eventually located the 2 Woodcock x Fly Orchid hybrids I was after! And boy there were beauties. I quickly took my shots and re-joined an rather pissed-off Belinda. This was quickly forgotten with tea and cake in Beauminster before checking into our accommodation.

Woodcock x Fly Orchid hybrids

Saturday dawned cloudy but dry. A drive to the north section of the Blackdown Hills near Wellington followed by a nice walk on Blackdown Common revealked Tree Pipit, Cuckoo, loads of Lesser Redpolls and Willow Warblers, 2 Garden Warblers but sadly the weather just wasn't good enough fr my hoped-for Pearl-bordered Fritillaries. Green-veined White and Dingy Skipper did brave the weather though!

The rest of the day was fairly uneventful as far as nature was concerned. A walk from Charmouth to Lyme Regis (with fossils a plenty en-route) and dinner in West Bay.

Sunday was a much sunnier day and we decided to head for the Purbeck coast 'on our way home'. Parking in Worth Matravers we walked the coat eastwards to the famous Dancing Ledge. Here I  quickly found quite a few Early Spider Orchids even though c75% had gone over. There were also some superbly rare Early Gentians and birdwise we were treated to mega close views of a pair of Peregrines as we ate our lunch on the cliffs beside some nice patches of Wild Cabbage. 2-3 Ravens were also about plus Lesser Whitethroat and 2 Shags. A mega Clouded Yellow flew quickly past going west but didn't stop. 3 Walls Browns were also new for the year.

Yearlist = 204 

Early Spider Orchids

Dancing Ledge

                    Early Gentian