Sunday, 17 June 2012

Sunday 17th. June 2012

Better weather this morning , but still breezy , I decided to do the butterfly transect that I postponed yesterday , but I might have not bothered at all , as the results were only just a little bit better than last
weekend . A single Small Heath , 5 Meadow Brown ( male pictured ) , 5 Common Blue , a single
Speckled Wood  and 2 Orange Tip caterpillars , getting a good size now , was all that was recorded during the 2 hour transect . Last year at this time I recorded 128 Meadow Brown , 44 Ringlet , 27 Small Skipper and 8 Large Skipper , plus other species , so it just shows how bad things are this year . Also on the way round , it was noticeable the lack of other insects , beetles , flies and ladybirds , in fact the only species showing well was the metallic green Thick-legged Beetle / Oedemera nobilis .
I must admit though , that I had another reason for going to High Elms today . Whilst on the Orchid walk yesterday , a chap named Ted mentioned that he had been up at High Elms in the last couple of days , and had found a specimen of Yellow Birdsnest / Monotropa hypopitys , a species that I used to find there many years ago , but haven't found since , although I look every year . Ted told me where it was , and I was sure I knew the area exactly . Having finished the transect , I headed for junction of two paths that I was sure Ted had described . I must have spent well over an hour at the junction , but found nothing . Dejected , I went to check on the Birdsnest Orchids , which are not doing as well as they did last year , and then headed for the Orchid Bank to see if I could find any more Bee or Fly Orchids . At one point , I reached the other end of the main path I had been searching earlier , and decided to have one more look . As I walked the part of the path that I hadn't searched before , I
spotted a small plant on the side of the path , less than 10cms. high , the Yellow Birdsnest . I know it
doesn't look much , a saprophyte , feeding on decaying matter , and with no green colouring matter . Strange that I have seen more of the rare Military Orchids than I have seen specimens of this species .
Added to that , my Orchid total for the weekend went up to 11 , finding a fifth Butterfly Orchid on Burnt Gorse and a second and third on the Orchid Bank , and 3 Fly Orchids on the Bank , but they are
well past their best now , as the photo shows . If and when butterflies do emerge , there is plenty of
nectar for them to choose from , with Eyebright / Euphrasia officinalis ( pictured ) , coming into flower , along with much more Yellow Rattle than in previous years , no doubt brought in on
contractors cutting equipment . Low down in the grass , Purging or Fairy Flax / Linum cathcarticum is brightening things up with it's tiny white star shaped flowers . On bare patches of soil , Scarlet
Pimpernel / Anagallis minima , surprisingly a member of the Primrose family , is sprawling to cover the bareness with it's orange/red stars .
Back home , a larva of the Harlequin Ladybird was scuttling over the garage doors , and whilst photographing damselflies ovipositing in the pond , I thought I would take one of the male Large Red
Damselflies in a 'Warrenesque' style .


Spock said...

Great picture of the Yellow Birdsnest, I have only ever seen this in flower at the secret "1931 wood" a Ghost Orchid site.

Warren Baker said...

More Orchids than Butterflies! Must be a first Greenie :-)

That ''warrenesque'' damsel shot is better than my efforts!

ShySongbird said...

I read that butterfly numbers were down by a fifth last year and are already down 20% this year, extremely worrying Greenie!

Well done on finding the Yellow Bird's-nest. I don't think I have ever seen it but if I had I'm sure I wouldn't have realised what I was looking at, it's certainly very odd looking!

You have had an excellent weekend for orchids and the 'Warrenesque' shot is a cracker.