Sunday, 6 June 2010

Orchid orgy at Noar Hill

Taking a much needed break from revision we headed to Noar Hill (Nr Selbourne) this afternoon for some wild orchid action and we were not disappointed.

Alison had already scoped the site yesterday, having been  given the local tour by Mike the HWT warden following the setting up of a new dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius) monitoring site which involved erecting dormouse nesting boxes in suitable habitat.

I was completely unprepared for the quality of orchid we found, and mesmerised by the beauty, intricacy and evolution of these plants.

The fly orchid (Ophrys insectifera) a plant of varied habitat (open woodland, glades and rides) found growing on calcareous and limestone soils. Associated in southern England with the grassland of old pits, quarries and spoil heaps; and more or less confined to the North and South Downs.

The plant is pollinated by male digger wasps (Sphex sp) who are attracted to the flower by its shape, texture and the pheromones which it releases. We found seven flowering plants within a 5 x 5 square metre area.

fly orchid (Ophrys insectifera) top photograph courtesy Alison Hogan, middle and bottom photograph Author
A single specimen of the variation green fly orchid (Ophrys insectifera ochroleuca) was also found:

green fly orchid (Ophrys insectifera ochroleuca) both photographs Author

The common spotted orchid (Dactylorhiza fuschsii), in keeping with it's name, was noted across the whole of the site with specimens in various stages of condition:

common spotted orchid (Dactylorhiza fuschsii) courtesy Alison Hogan

A fourth orchid sp (which we failed to identify) was also noted in several places:

(unidentified orchid) courtesy Alison Hogan

Other plant spp of interest on the day were the common twayblade (Neottia ovata):

and the flea sedge (Carex pulicarus) a plant which is both scarce and declining in lowland Britain; and according to a local botanist that we met, went missing from the site from it's last record in the early 1900's until it's very recent reappearence:

flea sedge (Carex pulicarus) Author

Friday, 4 June 2010

the garden grows some talons

I was late for work this morning distracted by a new garden tick which was self-evident from the explosion of woodpigeon (Columba palumbus) audible from within the house, the depression in the long grass, shattered oxeye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) and lost feathers that lay strewn about.

A ♀ sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) made good of several pounds of bird seed that has been fed to the local woopis over the last couple of months; the gory mess being consumed on a shed roof several gardens down. It was all very exciting.

The "long tom" was not readily available, so the compact on full zoom was responsible for the poor record shot. I am getting good at poor record shots maybe it's about time I stepped up my skills?

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Fledged house sparrows and a brand new garden tick

Albeit poor record shots, a combination of both enthusiastic but rank amateur photography skills and a wet grey late afternoon. However, the cause of much excitement and poor photography on my part was the arrival of five recently fledged house sparrows (Passer domesticus) along with their parents in the back gardens.

Top picture shows 4 newly fledged + 1 ♀ ad, second picture 4 newly fledged house sparrow - the bright yellow gapes of the young visible.

A ♂ linnet (Carduelis cannabina) was a new garden tick, giving the briefest of views as it alighted on the fence before flying on and out of view.

woodpigeon (Columba palumbus) and collared dove (Streptopelia decaocto) present as usual