Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Wednesday 5th. June 2013

Carol really enjoyed her away day visiting a friend last week , and at the weekend , asked if there was a chance of a similar trip this week to Ashford , to visit another friend . Brownie Points are always good to have in the bank , so I willing agreed . I dropped Carol off at her friends house , and headed for Park Gate Down , near Elham , about 15 minutes away . When I got out of the car at the reserve , I had doubts over my decision , with grey skies and a cold blustery wind blowing over the site . But the weather didn't take anything away from the orchids that I started to find , Monkey Orchids , and
for once , the timing of my visit was perfect , with some still in flower bud , others were starting to
flower from the top down , giving a rather untidy impression of the plant , but when all the flowers
have opened , what a magnificent flower it is . It gets it's name from the shape of the individual
flowers , looking like a monkey , complete with , no Warren not that , a tail . A few Early Purple Orchids were still in flower , lots of Common Twayblades , no sign of any Lady Orchids or Musk
Orchids , but did find my first Common-spotted Orchid flower of the year . Just one Fly Orchid , just
coming into flower was found  Also on the site , real Colombine - Aquilegia vulgaris , difficult to photograph in the strong wind , not your garden escape that is seen so much these days . A bonus above the wind was a singing Garden Warbler and Yellowhammer . By the time I left , the sky was starting to break , which was what I needed for the afternoon visit , and as I drove to Bonsai Bank , Denge Wood , that clearance got better and better , but with no change to the wind . I parked up and full of anticipation , fast-walked the track to the site , made easier being mostly downhill . On the
way , I found a dead Common Shrew , with no apparent injuries seen . I also met a fellow enthusiast heading back to the road . Any sign of 'the Duke' , I asked . 'No , I've been there for two hours and only had a Grizzled Skipper , too windy for them' was his reply , not what I wanted to hear . I know they are getting to the end of their flight , but I was hoping to see one . Arriving at the gate into the
reserve , an amazing sight of 10s, 100s , even a thousand Lady Orchids , spread all over the site . A robust species that can grow to 100cms. but on site varied from 30-75cms. Like the monkey Orchid ,
the Lady Orchid gets it's name from the flower , in this case a Lady in a bonnet and crinoline dress .
Very variable in colour , especially in the design on the crinoline dress , and more normal , opening from the bottom up . Also found were good numbers of Butterfly Orchids , not a single open flower
amongst them , but probably all of the Greater species . By the time I got to the far end of the reserve , the area where 'the Duke' was found on my last visit , I realised that I was the only person there . Out in the open areas , the wind was blowing strongly still , so I searched the more sheltered areas , not knowing if any of the species were still flying . After about half an hour , a brief sighting ,
and I managed just two shots before the smallest of Fritillaries , the Duke of Burgundy , about the size of a Dingy Skipper , before it was blown away . I spent another two and a half hours searching , and during that time I reckon I saw three different specimens , but that wind was a real pain .

I had to leave to pick Carol up , and on my way back along the paths found a really beautifully
coloured Early Purple Orchid , and as I photographed it , a fourth Duke got blown past , in almost the same place where I saw the species many years ago . The walk back to the car , uphill , and now in full sun was much harder than getting to the reserve , but it was well worth it . Topped off the day with a fish and chip supper , perfect .



Marc Heath said...

Glad you caught up with the Dukes, sounds like a full on day.

Mike H said...

Glad you managed to get to Bonsai bank, I have been twice this year and the Lady Orchids i am sure are in '000s Also managed Fly Orchid just past where the Dukes get in that top left corner. Will be visiting park gate Down tomorrow and Dover for the Small Blues if I can find it. Have posted quite a few shots on my Flickr site Greenie.

Warren Baker said...

I didn't realise the ''Dukes'' were that small Greenie.

More of that wind again today, but at least the sun is here.

Alan Pavey said...

Some great species Greenie, several things there I've never seen before, lovely pics :-)