Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Tuesday 28th.April 2009

Couldn't make it out till after lunch , and then decided on Fackenden Down , near Otford . I started in sunny periods , and arrived in overcast with a strong threat of rain . I had heard that there were Early Purple Orchids on the site , well away from the areas where the refugia were laid . As there was no sign of the sun , I decided to look for these first . I took the track that takes you above the chalk grassland , along the edge of the scrub/wood . The first thing I spotted was a Crab Spider , sitting , waiting for an insect to come and feed on the Bugle , so it could feed on the said insect . But with the conditions , I think it was going to have to wait for it's meal . These spiders come in a variety of colours , and some have contrasing dots on their abdomen . A bit further along the path I found the first of the Early Purple Orchids , a very robust plant compared to most that I have seen . This one must have stood about 25cms. high and the spotted leaves were really leathery . All were the usual colour , except one , being of the pink variation , which is reasonably common , none being the deep purple / violet , like the ones Warren found on his patch . Also on the edge of the woods , Wood Spurge , a member of the Euphorbia family , is in full flower . As I got half way along the site , Otford , sitting in the dip , was getting the first of many showers passing through , only a mater of time till one gets me I thought . As I got towards the far end of the site , I started turning tins , but with the conditions , did not expect to find much . Sure enough , just the 17 Slow Worms were found in odd ones and twos , mostly under felt , which tends to retain it's heat longer than the corrugated sheet . The wetter conditions suited the large Roman Snails which are abundant on the site , and lots were seen out feeding . I passed by the plant that Steve/Kingsdowner and I looked at when he visited the site , and as it was not yet in flower , I changed my mind twice on it's identification from the leaves . My final thought was Sainfoin , and today the flower heads were showing , and a tinge of pink from the flower spike confirmed my thoughts . Soon after , the threatened shower arrived , and I was still some distance from the car . The very last pair of refugia , produced the only Adder of the day , a good sized female under the corrugated sheet . Also noticed today was that the Ash has started to burst bud into leaf . No butterflies were recorded today , in fact , come to think of it , with the exception of the Crab Spider , I do not remember seeing any othe insects . Birds did better with singing males including Yellowhammer , Common Whitethroat , Chiffchaff , Blackcap , Blackbird , Song Thrush , Wren and Woodpigeon , all trying to attract a partner or letting others know that this was their patch , on what was turning into a miserable afternoon . About the only ones not bothered were these two lambs , just worried about their next meal . Rather bedraggled , I reached the car and the dry .


Warren Baker said...

Hi Greenie,
You can forget a thursday walk, if the weather forecast proves correct.
I wonder if the E.P Orchids on my patch are so dark coloured because they are in shade?

Greenie said...

Warren ,
I thought that , but the ones I posted at Biggin Hill were also in the shade , but the same colour as today's on the edge of the wood .
Could always post a fishy tale on Thursday .

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Greenie.
Nice picture of the Crab Spider. Never seen one before. Nice Flora photo's too.