The reserve is split in two by the M40 and I'd found a document online saying the Frog Orchids could be found either on Beacon Hill, or near Bald Hill on the other half of the reserve. We chose to try Beacon Hill today and set out along the top of the steep slope.
Common Blues were flying around in the sunshine and we spotted lots of very small brown butterflies that we believe were Brown Arguses (although they're easy to confuse with the dark brown female Common Blues). The slopes were covered in Rock Rose, which is the foodplant of the caterpillars of the Brown Argus, so its possible that's what they were (although you have to carefully compare the spots on the underwing to be sure).
We also spotted a very tatty Green Hairstreak, then a fantastic male Adonis Blue flew around us for a while, settling just long enough to get a few photos. We saw something shoot past us, that may have been a Painted Lady, as well as a couple of Small Heaths.
|Male Adonis Blue|
|Male Adonis Blue|
|A very tatty looking Green Hairstreak|
We reached Beacon Hill and started our search, finding a handful of Common Spotted Orchids, but despite our best efforts we couldn't find any Frog Orchids.
|Common Spotted Orchid|
On the way down, you get a fantastic view of the Red Kites soaring over the reserve and the M40!
We walked along a sunken path that runs along the bottom of the slope. It was a real sun trap and full of Common Spotted Orchids, including an unusual completely white one. There were also a few Pyramidal Orchids starting to flower.
|Common Spotted Orchid showing the usual spots and |
stripes on the petals
|White Common Spotted Orchid|
I'm beginning to wonder whether the little green Frog Orchids are worth all the hunting, but we've been having a lot of fun trying to find them, so I'm going to have to take a look at the other side of the reserve. I just hope I can find them after all this!