Thursday, 16 June 2016

Rare Wildflowers on Berry Head and Devon Heath Fritillaries

Back in late May we visited Berry Head to see some of its rarer wild flowers after having been rather too late last year when we visited. We saw everything we were looking for except Small Hare's-ear which we were too early for this time. However we went back last Sunday and found lots of it both in one of the spots we'd looked at earlier and in a new location passed onto me via a contact on Twitter. This is a tiny plant and very difficult to see and it is also very rare growing only here and Beachy Head in East Sussex.The other flowers were White Rock Rose, Small Restharrow, Honewort and Dwarf Mouse-ear. We also found a beautiful salmon pink Scarlet Pimpernel. After our May visit we drove over to the west side of Dartmoor to look for Heath Fritillaries on a Butterfly Conservation Reserve. There were lots on the wing and the very first one we saw was a stunning aberration too! We also saw a few Pearl-bordered Fritillaries and Small-pearl-bordered Fritillaries here.

White Rock Rose Helianthemum apenninum

Double flowered White Rock Rose

Honewort - Trinia glauca

Small Restharrow - Ononis reclinata

Small Hare's-ear - Bupleurum baldense

It's very small and if you can't picture just how small from these photos...

...Here's one with a polo mint for scale. See it's tiny!

Dwarf Mouse-ear - Cerastium pumilum 

Scarlet Pimpernel - Anagallis arvensis

Aberrant Heath Fritillary - Melitaea athalia ab. corythalia

Heath Fritillary - Melitaea athalia
(Bog-standard version) 

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary - Boloria selene 
Very fresh with a still crumpled wing

Bastard Balm - Melittis melissophyllum 

Friday, 27 May 2016

Fly x Bee

Very early this morning I drove over to Somerset to have a look at the hybrid Bee x Fly Orchids on the side of the A303.  I went early to avoid the bank holiday traffic, which was already building up on the way back to Devon and also to reduce the fear factor of of walking along the side of the A303 with its speeding traffic! It's worth it though as these orchids are simply stunning and I never get tired of seeing them and after having not visited the site last year another visit was well overdue. I couldn't see many Bee Orchids but it's probably still a bit early for them and the other parent, the Fly Orchid I couldn't find at all, although I didn't look that hard, so there may be some.

Some plants look quite like the parent Fly Orchid but 'on steroids' 
with much the same overall colouring.

Most however have a few more Bee Orchid genes in them
 giving them lovely pale pink sepals

Fly x Bee Orchid
I've said it before and I'll say it again it looks a bit like an evil purple alien teddy bear with an elaborate horned helmet on. I expect to hear... "take me to your leader" .. Yes, I'm just going for a nice lie down in a darkened room.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Noar Hill, Hayling Island and The New Forest

Here's a selection from a day spent in Hampshire on May 16th:

Noar Hill

Lots of Duke of Burgundy on the wing here with at least fifty seen. This was a real treat for me as I've only ever seen them in their Somerset sites where five is the highest number I'd seen.

Duke of Burgundy - Hamearis lucina

Green Hairstreak - Callophrys rubi

Small Heath - Coenonympha pamphilus

 Early Purple Orchid - Orchis mascula
Also available in pink and white.

Fly Orchid - Ophrys insectifera  
 The only Fly Orchid with a flower open was this strange coloured one with very little pigmentation

White Germander Speedwell - Veronica chamaedrys

Hayling Island

Bur Chervil - Anthriscus caucalis

Round-leaved Cranesbill - Geranium rotundifolium

 Grass Eggar Caterpillar - Lasiocampa trifolii

Mother Shipton - Euclidia mi

New Forest

Heath Dog Violet - Violet canina

Adderstongue Fern - Ophioglossum vulgatum
An unusual example with a split stalk looking even more like an adder's tongue