Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Botany and Butterflies On and Around Exmoor

As of today we are a one car family, I don't know how long for (not long I hope!) Because of this I only have a car available to me on Sundays and Mondays so yesterday I decided to go and make the most of my day with the car and spend it on and around Exmoor. I was hoping to see at least three new plants, a butterfly or two and hopefully some nice birds too. I visited four different sites the first of which was on the north Somerset coast and what a fabulous place for botanizing it is! I could have spent all day here and no doubt would have seen lots of new plants, but my tight schedule meant that I only had a couple of hours. I'll definitely be back though. The flower that I was particularly looking for was Sand Catchfly, but first some others...

Fragrant Evening Primrose - Oenothera stricta

More Fragrant Evening Primrose and Hare's Tail Grass - Lagurus ovatus

Staying on the Hare related theme this is 
Hare's Foot Clover -Trifolium arvense

This very imposing looking Dock is if I'm not mistaken the introduced Greek Dock - Rumex cristatus

 Shining Cranesbill - Geranium lucidum

Duke of Argyll's Teaplant - Lycium barbarum
 The fruit of this plant is the recent 'fad food' goji berries.

Bittersweet - Solanum dulcamara

The common but very lovely White Campion - Silene latifolia

 Sand Catchfly is very difficult to spot and certainly took some finding. The 'shocking pink' flowers are small but the seed heads are pretty conspicuous

Sand Catchfly - Silene conica
You can see how it gets its scientific name

A very pretty flower close up.

Next stop was on Exmoor for Heath Fritillary. It was still a bit on the early side when I arrived but the sun was out and it was feeling quite warm already. There were lots of Brown Silver-line Moths and Green Hairstreaks on the wing but I had to wait a while before I spotted a Heath Fritillary. I only saw four in total, but having said that I didn't wander all that far from the car as I needed to save my energy for the next site. By the time I saw a Heath Fritillary the morning had gotten pretty warm and they were very active and so not allowing much in the way of photo opportunities. Best of all I spotted an elusive female Wood Tiger.

Heath Fritillary

Green Hairstreak

A female Wood Tiger

Heath Spotted Orchid

My next destination was a secluded valley somewhere on Exmoor where I was hoping to see a colony of Large-flowered Butterwort, an insectivorous plant native to south western Ireland but introduced here around 1970.

It's down there somewhere!

It was truly idyllic 
I didn't see or hear another person the whole time I was there, I did see a lovely male Redstart and an equally if not more lovely singing male Whinchat.

And here he is.

When I found the colony of  Large-flowered Butterwort I struggled to find any in flower. Perhaps I was a bit late in the season or perhaps most of the flowers had been nibbled by sheep. Eventually I managed to find a single flowering plant.

It's easy to see where the surrounding vegetation has been nibbled.

Large-flowered Butterwort - Pinguicula grandiflora 
(Aka Great Butterwort)

 Creeping Forget-me-not - Myosotis secunda

A late Cuckoo Flower - Cardamine pratensis

My final stop was over the border in Devon and also just to the south of Exmoor but on the way there I stopped briefly when I noticed this at the side of the road and took a couple of photos from the car.

Pyrenean Valerian - Valeriana pyrenacia

And staying on the pyrenean theme my final site was one where Pyrenean Lily has been growing on the local hedge-banks for probably a hundred years or more. It really is quite a breathtaking display!

Pyrenean Lily- Lilium pyrenaicum


JRandSue said...

Fantastic post.

Steve Gale said...

A brilliant post Karen. Very envious of some of these plants.