We were back today (minus Bug Mad Girl this time, who's at Brownie camp all weekend) on a guided walk led by the warden. We were looking forward to seeing which orchids were flowering now and what treasures we'd missed that the warden could point out to us.
The site used to be a chalk quarry, so it's full of steep slopes and deep hollows and is a warm, sheltered sun trap. From the road you would never know it was there, but as soon as you walk through a few trees it opens out into the most amazing chalk grassland site, that's completely covered in orchids and other wild flowers. Apparently 50 species of wild flowers have been recorded in a single square metre there!
It never ceases to amaze me how much can change in just a couple of weeks. Where two weeks ago we'd been excited to see a handful of Chalk Fragrant Orchids just showing a bit of colour, they were now everywhere you looked.
There were plenty more flowers still to open, which should keep everybody very busy at the annual orchid count that's due to take place next weekend. The warden thinks they'll be at their peak in about two weeks time, so we'll definitely be back for another look.
We found Greater Butterfly Orchids throughout the site. Again, when we'd previously been there we'd been excited to find what we hoped were a few Butterfly Orchids, but now there were lots of them. I think they are my favourite orchid (at the moment) as they're so tall and elegant. They really are beautiful.
The Common Spotted Orchids are flowering now and the Twayblades are putting on a wonderful display. It's such a shame they're green flowers so disappear into the background. If they were any other colour everybody would love them and think they were stunning!
|Common Spotted Orchid|
|common Spotted Orchid|
|Common Twayblade flowers|
The Ragpits are a wonderful site for butterflies and we saw Common Blues, Brimstones and Dingy Skippers today. There would have been more flying, but it was quite windy and the sun was in and out all morning.
We also found a Slow-worm under one of the sheets of corrugated iron. There are also Grass snakes on the site, but we didn't find any today. There were no Adders, but we did find some Adders-tongue Ferns instead!
|No Adders, but there were Adder's-tongue Ferns|