Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Wednesday 6th.May 2009

Last night , I got a call from a hedgelaying mate , asking if I was interested in seeing some Early Purple Orchids . Having seen about 12 at Biggin Hill , and about 20 at Fackenden , I casually asked how many he was talking about . He said that when he went a couple of weeks ago , there were about 150 . I made arrangements to meet him this morning .
In fields alongside one of the lanes on my way to the meeting point , I found these two young
horses relaxing in the morning sun , the parent never moving too far away . The top one lookingparticularly gangly , as most young horses do .
I got to the car park at Cudham Recreation Ground a bit early , and spent a bit of time looking around . Just down the road is the Blacksmith's Arms , an oldy worldy country pub .
On the front wall is one of those blue circular plaques that they put on buildings regarding famous people . As you can see , it relates to a Music Hall Comedian . Most of us are too young to remember him , but I'm sure Warren does . My mate arrived just as I was photographing a Pied Wagtail , that was chasing here and there on the Recreation Ground , filling it's bill with insects .
It was a good walk to the Orchid site , but the birdsong was superb all the way , with Common Whitethroat , Blackcap , Linnet , Yellowhammer , House Sparrow , Song and Mistle Thrush all having their say . The Bluebells and Yellow Archangel along the way made it even better . We finally got to the site , an area of ancient woodland , on the edge of farmland . We entered the wood , and it was obvious the estimate of 150 was totally wrong . All along a slight bank covered in Bluebells , were a conservative 400/500 Early Purple Orchids . I just stood there amazed , speechless . Eventually I came to , and started taking photos . Like at Marden Meadow at the

weekend , colours varied from light pink through to deep purple , but still nothing as deep as the ones Warren found on his patch . The Orchids were everywhere and we had to be very careful where we stepped . Once we had had our fill , we headed off to a small reserve in the same valley called Strawberry Bank . Here we had the birdsong and butterflies , as we found three species that my mate hadn't seen before , being Green Hairstreak , this one showing how variable the row of spots , here just one , can be , Grizzled and Dingy Skipper , all of which posed for photos . From there , we headed back to the car park , before heading for Downe Scout Camp where he was doing a bird survey . It was a bit late to start , but we gradually started recoding good numbers . Once again , I can't seem to keep away from them at the moment , we had a pair of Roe Deer in the field just outside the wood we were surveying . One was definately a Buck , but they took off at speed and I couldn't see what the other one was . I had to leave him before the survey was finished , as I had to meet a Kent Reptile and Amphibian Group member up on Fackenden Downs/White Hill . We walked White Hill first , a site managed by Butterfly Conservation , specifically for the Chalkhill Blue butterfly . They won't be on the wing till July , but we did record several Brimstones , and on one Buckthorn bush , we found the caterpillar , munching it's way through the fresh leaves , identified by the light stripe along each side . I thought I was going to satisfy Warren's need for pictures of 'frenzied sexual activity' , when I found these two Dingy Skippers in close proximity . They made small movements over a period of several minutes , then , much to my annoyance , one flew one way , and the other flew the other . On Fackenden Down , the temperature was about 20C , and very little was seen reptile wise , just the odd Slow Worm , surprisingly , under the refugia . We finished the walk , but I stayed on to have one more look in the sheltered field by the entrance . With Common Whitethroat and Yellowhammer singing , Brimstone and Orange Tip fluttering about it was magic . Then a flash of light blue shot past me , wrong 'jizz' for Holly Blue I thought , so I chased it down . When it settled , I was able to photograph my first Common Blue of the year , so fresh , it think it had only just emerged .


John Young said...

Hi Greenie, For a minute I thought that you might have been in my neck of the woods as I have a beech wood near me with around 400-500 early purple orchids within it amongst bluebells, quite a sight.

ShySongbird said...

I've just been catching up with your last few posts and as usual they are full of such interesting things and I would say that knowledgeable definitely describes you.

I was very saddened by the plight of the rabbit and almost hope a fox may have put the poor thing out of its misery, I do hate to hear of suffering.

I had no idea that young squirrels cling to their parent like that and it was great to see a photo.

Lovely photos throughout, thank you Greenie, I really do love your blog.

Warren Baker said...

Ah! That harry relph!
Sounds like another little paradise you've found greenie

Greenie said...

John ,
You know I would have asked for a visa if I was coming on your patch .

Thank you for your kind comment .

Warren ,
I knew you'd know him .
Yes I shall be re-visiting that paradise very soon .

Warren Baker said...

I had a look at that pied wag agin. I can see it has a resemblance to a 'white wagtail' especially the clean un-smudged flanks, but I would need to see the nape, and rump of the bird to be sure. Looks like a maybe!