Friday, 27 June 2014

South Downs and Salisbury Plain

On to the rest of Sunday. First stop in the South Downs to the east of Winchester was at a well known site for Musk Orchids - Herminium monorchis an orchid I hadn't seen before. What a spectacular site it was too I've never seen so many orchids in one place.

This is just one tiny corner but photos don't really do it justice as a lot of the orchids don't show up very well.

It is quite a large site and the Musk Orchids actually took some finding as they are very small indeed just 4cm - 5cm high at most.

 Musk Orchid

They vary in colour from yellowish as seen here and....

To green

 This one has a caterpillar trying to hide on it.
I can't identify it, any ideas?


Common Spotted Orchid -Dactylorhiza fuchsii

Chalk Fragrant Orchid -Gymnadenia conopsea

Knapweed Broomrape - Orobanche elatior

 Fairy Flax - Linum catharticum

 Hairy St.John's Wort - Hypericum hirsutum

This lovely meadow was just outside the reserve

I could easily have spent all day at this lovely reserve but was on a bit of a tight schedule. I was soon on my way a few miles down the road to another superb reserve where I was hoping to see the bizarre flowers of Round-headed Rampion - Phyteuma orbiculare. Again I could easily have spent a whole day on this lovely site but the kilometre walk from the car park to the flowering site of the Round - headed Rampion meant that I was too pushed for time. Still, I saw the flower very easily once I'd arrived on the south facing slopes where it grows. 

The flower head is not a single flower but made up of many small flowers which when unopened look like podgy fingers or a sea anemone. It has the most gorgeous deep purple colour. Unfortunately it wasn't easy to get an aesthetically pleasing shot of it because it's just so attractive to flies!

See! Weevils too by the looks of it!

At least the fly on this one as rather attractive green eyes!

When the flowers are all fully open the plant looks a bit messy and not nearly as striking.

A nice fly-less example.

After visiting Martha I took a different route home to fit in a visit to the site on Salisbury Plain where I saw Pheasant's Eye - Adonis annua three years ago. It was still a nice site but the arable 'weeds' which grow there were not nearly as varied and numerous as they had been then. I didn't find any Pheasant's Eye at all, probably because it tends to grow in disturbed ground and when I saw it here before it was growing on the edge of tracks made by tanks and other vehicles. 

Pheasant's Eye growing alongside a compacted track in 2011.
This year there are no tracks through the area and the Pheasant's Eye may be being crowded out by more vigorous species. I could however have been a bit too early as it was July when I visited before. I may have chance to go back in the coming weeks, so could find it yet.

Same area as seen above but this year without the tank tracks unfortunately.
There were plenty of other fine plants to see and one new one for me too, which was Sainfoin - Onobrychis vicifolia

Sainfoin with inquisitive Black Ant

More Knapweed Broomrape....
... Greater Knapweed.
 Its host plant

Rough Poppy - Papaver hybridum
Definitely my favourite of all the poppies, such a lovely colour.

Field Pansy - Viola arvensis

 Meadow Cranesbill - Geranium pratense

 Field Scabious - Knautia arvensis

Square-stalked St.John's Wort - Hypericum tetrapterum

Common Toadflax - Linaria vulgaris

 Five-spot Burnet Moths

 Five-spot Burnet and Marbled White

Meadow Brown

 Marbled White signalling to this Burnet Moth that she's already mated thank you very much!
A very popular spike of Viper's Bugloss

It always amazes me that people are willing to pay £13.90 to walk around the outside of Stonehenge when you can get views like this from the car whilst stuck in the almost perpetual traffic jam on the A303 alongside it. 
Also, notice how the five people on the left are all not even looking at it but are on their phones.
EDIT: I have been informed in the comments that they may be listening to the audio tour (probably downloaded onto their phones) which I now understand is included in with ticket purchase ... in that case £13.90 what a bargain! ;-)
I wonder what species of bird that is, perched on top of the tallest stone?


JRandSue said...


Anonymous said...

What a lovely series of Orchid images, you must be well pleased with those.

Incidentally I suspect those visitors to Stonehenge are listening to an audio recording rather than being on the phone.

Karen Woolley said...

Thanks for putting me right there Anonymous.. Audio tour of course! They have to offer one something for the exorbitant entrance charge I suppose ;-)

Mike Kilburn said...

a super series of images - I'd never realised how rich meadowlands are for flowers and insects - I'never realised.

As for Stonehenge - £13.90 would be a bargain for finding that the bird on top of the stones was a White-croned Black Wheatear!

Paul Redman said...

Great blog Karen. How do you find all these places to visit. I have the same opinion about people who visit Stonehenge as you and my poor wife hears my opinion everytime we pass those stones. Lovely photo's.

Karen Woolley said...

Thanks John and Mike, Yes, Mike although I'd pay that for a 'just' male Rock Thrush!

Paul, thanks and I just research on the internet and in that old fashioned thing - books! ;-)

Ian Andrews said...

beautiful pics again; your fuel bill must be enormous! I understand you use a Canon Superzoom; what distance are you from the subject, particularly the butterflies.