Thursday, 25 June 2015

West Cliff Branscombe and Retail Park Bee Orchids

I've been along the clifftops to the east of Branscombe many many times but I've never been to the clifftops to the west before. Rather unsurprisingly this area is called West Cliff and it's a very steep climb up from Branscombe Mouth. I decided against this route and instead walked from Berry Barton to the west and followed the coast path to the east. I was hoping to find Henbane, which I'd heard has been seen in the vicinity and it would have been a new plant for me. Unfortunately I didn't find any but I did stumble upon another new plant for me the rather scarce Wild Clary. If I hadn't seen much of interest it would still have been worth the walk for the lovely view over Branscombe.

There were plenty of Common Spotted Orchids along the route.

And I had some good views of a flock of delightful Goldfinches feeding on the seeds of Slender Thistles.

 The clifftop above Branscombe was superb for wild flowers and there was an especially nice display of Viper's Bugloss - Echium vulgare ... 

 ... which is always very popular with bees.

This plant was growing in an unusual shape spreading instead of the usual tall spike.
I think it looks even  more attractive in this form.

Wild Clary - Salvia verbenaca

The previous morning I made the short trip to an Exeter retail park to see a very fine display of Bee Orchids. Some of the nicest specimens of this species I've ever seen, really tall and colourful. They were surprisingly difficult to spot in the long grass considering how brightly coloured they are. There were hundreds of plants, I counted one hundred in just one small area. If only more verges and embankments were left to go wild like this one. There were lots of other wildflowers but I' didn't have time to have a really good look. 

There are at least fifteen plants in this photo, not that easy to see as they blend into the grasses

 Huge plants and very brightly coloured to boot! 

Common Centaury - Centaurium erythraea   

Common Field Poppy - Papaver rhoeas


Steve Gale said...

Karen, those Bees are enormous!

Karen Woolley said...

Steve - Yes indeed..biggest I've ever seen one had 16 flowers on the spike!