Monday, 27 May 2013

Orchids at Clattinger Farm NR, Wiltshire

WE absolutely have to go to Clattinger Farm every year, at least once, to see the snake's -head fritillaries, or the orchids, on the wonderful unimproved meadows.

These fields are SOOO rich and have been a SSSI for many years.  Originally managed by a private landowner (with the support of English Nature and the careful and close attention of Russell Wright), the site is now owned and managed by the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust.

The farm is grazed as part of a larger unit, by belted galloway cattle, and frankly it is stunning.  The grassland is rich with cowslips, burnet saxifrage, pepper saxifrage, oxeye daisies, bird's-foot trefoil, grasses etc etc. - truly amazing...

Yesterday's wonderful weather showed of the site at its best - but where was everyone else - free to visit, stunning countryside, idyllic in every way - hardly a single person there!!!  Our gain - their loss.

Early Marsh Orchid

Adder's tongue fern
Green-winged orchid

Alba variety

A feast for the eyes...don't you agree?

Monday, 20 May 2013

Cotswolds splendor

SUNDAY: Although we had a late start, the long summer day meant that we had no problem going for a 7 mile walk in the Cotswold Hills and still had plenty of evening too.

At last the woodlands are now in full flower with white ramsoms and bluebells.  The male orange-tip butterflies were zooming around, defending territories and buzzing passing females.  Early purple orchids were standing tall amongst the yellow archangel and dog's mercury under the closing canopy.

Male orange tip butterfly in flight

Cowslips amongst the bluebells

Hawkesbury - idyllic setting and quintessentially English scene

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Meadow orchids and woodland rides

MAY is usually the start of the orchid hunting season...and this year has been no exception.  Here are the first that I bagged: these are green-winged orchids:

Also worth pursuing at this time of year are the hedgebanks and woodlands carpeted with bluebells and ramsoms


On the meadow the orchids were joined by cowslips and the rather stunning common vetch:

Sunday, 12 May 2013

A sluggish spring in Somerset

The Somerset Levels, particularly Shapwick Heath, was packed with swifts, swallows and house martins yesterday.  Amongst them was a healthy population of hobbies, swooping through the skies and skimming the tree lines.  Young humbug grebes pottered around with their rather grumpy parents and in-spite of the wind and cool weather reed and willow warblers and chiff-chaffs made their presence felt with their summer songs.

One surprise was a gannet fly-by - very unusual so far in land.

Slow worms were sheltering in the usual places, but no other reptiles were present.  No cuckoos were heard either and no other local exotics seen this time.

Reddy brown female below tawny male slow-worm
Its very easy to get distracted by the wonderful summer visitors and the emerging colours, but the fresh spring green is still worth a special look.  The ferns are unfurling - this is action is called circinate venation and can be seen in this royal fern below:

and bracken...

This moss was particularly attractive with its fresh colours

Cuckoo-flowers are some of our first meadow species to blossom:

Oak leaf
 The hirundines were quite a challenge to photograph:


House martin
Glastonbury Tor with a swallow in the foreground

Steve Perry's corkers - adder and slow-worm

When we last visited the Somerset Levels a few weeks ago Mr Perry captured these two great images of an adder and a slow-worm - corkers!: