Tuesday, 16 June 2015

#30DaysWild day 16: Frog Hunt part 3

I've spent the last two mornings searching for Frog Orchids at two local sites, with very little success. Yesterday I met a man (who definitely looked like he ought to know where they were) who told me about a location on the other side of Aston Rowant Nature Reserve. The sun was shining again, so I decided to go and take a look and see if I could find the place he'd described.

I walked up a track and watched Speckled Woods dancing around in the sunlight, then resting for a few moments. Each one guarded their territory, never straying far from their patch. I walked out of one territory and into another one, encountering butterflies all the way up the track.

I noticed a sign that I was really impressed with - polite, explains why you should pick up after your dog and appears to work. I didn't see any dog poo when I went onto the reserve past that sign. Perhaps there should be more like this!

I walked through the gate onto the chalk slope of Bald Hill. It was a wonderful sight, with Common Spotted Orchids and other wild flowers covering the slope and insects, in turn, all over the flowers. This could definitely become another one of my favourite locations!

Fat-legged Beetle on a Common Spotted Orchid
A white Common Spotted Orchid
I walked up to the top of the hill and sat and admired the view for a few minutes. I could see over the motorway to Beacon Hill, the part of the reserve I'd visited yesterday.

Beacon Hill in the distance with the M40 running through the middle
I carried on and walked through a gate into an area called Flinty Piece. I hunted for the Frog Orchids, but still couldn't find any. It was lovely though and didn't really mind. I found lots more Common Spotted Orchids, as well as what I think is a Pyramidal Orchid just about to flower.
Pyramidal Orchid
There were Common Blues flying in the sun as well as orange day flying moths called Burnet Companions.
Burnet Companion

Common Blue
I walked along Flinty Piece until I reached The Sculpture Trail (where we went to see the Foxgloves last week). There were several caged Greater Butterfly Orchids on the way, as well as quite a few not in cages. I also found a wonderful tree on the edge of the hill, overlooking the valley below. The trunk had split into three and two of the branches were lying on the ground, but still growing.

Greater Butterfly Orchid

I turned back and retraced my steps, keeping an eye out for the Frog Orchids. In a couple of places I walked through a swarm of small barred long horn moths. They seem to rest on a specific bush, so if you disturb them they fly around you eventually settling back on the same bush.
Caught in a swarm!

Small barred long horn moths
Now at least I know where the Frog Orchids are supposed to grow, so I think I'll suspend the search for a couple of weeks and go back and the end of the month. Hopefully they'll be leaping around by then!

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