Friday, 8 May 2015

Stonebarrow Hill and Night Heron at Black Hole Marsh

On Tuesday afternoon I drove over to Dorset again but not far this time, only to the Charmouth area. I was visiting Stonebarrow Hill for the first time ever. To tell the truth I'd never really heard of it until this week. I don't know how that happened as it's a superb site with great views. The main reason for my visit was to look for the colony of Green-winged Orchids that grow there. As you may have noticed I've already visited a Green-winged Orchid site in Somerset this year but I didn't manage to see an all white flower. I'd read that there were quite a few at this particular site this season so was keen to have a look. There was one major problem with my plan though....the weather. It was blowing a near gale with gale force gusts! I found the colony easily enough and also the white flowers of which there were a good dozen or so but taking photos was going to be a bit tricky. I persevered and am totally gobsmacked at how well the photos came out. These high tech digital cameras are simply amazing!

View from Stonebarrow Hill looking east towards Golden Cap.

Carpets of Green-winged Orchids...

... Bending in the 'breeze'

White flower with only colouration being the green veins on the wings.

This very unusual and striking plant had white flowers and purple labellum spots

 A 'shocking pink' plant.

This afternoon a couple of texts from the old patch (thanks Bun and Ian M) alerted me to the presence of a Night Heron a bird which would be a lifer for me so I had to drop everything and head straight there. There has been a Night Heron on the patch before but just before I was 'in the loop' so I didn't see that one. I haven't made any effort to twitch one as I was always hoping one would show up nearby soon enough. I didn't think I'd have to wait NINE years though!

When I arrived it was showing pretty well, perched in a small oak tree next to the tower hide, it was rather obscured by branches though. It was also visibly exhausted and the only real movements it made were when it started to nod off and startled as it was about to fall off the branch. Poor soul. The weather was very dull and it soon started to rain but I managed to get a good digiscoped record shot. I hope it is able to feed tonight and perks up a bit. It would be a shame if it succumbs to the lovely British climate, it looked really sorry it ever came here!

 It was quite well camouflaged in the tree next to a nice plastic bag.

A very tired Night Heron 
Bird No. 355 for me.



Wilma said...

Hope the night heron survives.
The carpet of orchids is amazing. They are all beautiful, but my fav is the white one with the purple spots.
and SNAP - I am in the middle of writing a post about one of our local orchids. It will be up soon.

Karen Woolley said...

Thanks for commenting Wilma...your amazing cows horn orchids put my green-winged ones in the shade.

Spock said...

I used to visit Stonebarrow Hill in the 1990s It used to be good for Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary. Autumn Ladies Tresses also occurs later in the year August/September.