Following a fairly abbreviated visit to Amwell on Saturday curtailed by a migraine (not much happening, though plenty of Swifts and Hirundines, plus the usual waders) we decided on a fairly short Sunday trip down to Henley and do a few orchid sites and maybe get some dragonflies too.
Homefield Wood is the 'public' site for Military Orchids. Had heard on Bird Forum that they had started to flower last weekend, so thought it would be a good idea to get down now. In the small field we located a good 50+ spikes with quite a diverse range of form and colour-the shaded ones tending to be darker and taller but we did find a few dumpy robust specimens including a double spike. One Common Spotted Orchid was in bud, and a very short flower was also seen. While chasing a Common Blue butterfly I found one of several Fly Orchids as well as a couple of almost flowering Fragrants and a single Twayblade. In the wooded ride to the north we saw a few White Helleborines and I also located leaves of what appeared to be Broad Leaved Helleborine and what may have been a Violet Helleborine.
The smaller more wooded field held 30+ Militaries and a single Fly.
Birds were pretty much what one would expect in woods the area-lots of Willow and Chiffchaff, various tits, Nuthatch, Goldcrest and so on. Did not have any big lenses with me which proved to be a mistake as we had a few close encounters with Red Kites-now almost ubiquitous.
At Amwell Phil Ball the 'Gomphus Guru' talked up his research site on the Thames at Remenham, and being a few miles away, we took a look. Unfortunately, the wind had got up, as we also had some light showers. This did not seem to affect the Banded demoiselles and Mayflies which were abundant, but despite a long search we did not see any Club Tailed Dragonflies. I did see a black and yellow insect fly up from the footpath some way off, but did not get anything on it-no idea of size or anything. Might have been a hoverfly or a Club Tail just dont know. On our return to the car I met another Amwell regular and his partner who had also been talking to Phil and having heard of our failure decided to go to the pub and try later. We also gave them directions to Homefield Wood.
With a few hours left before I needed to get home we called in at Warburg, a place we had enjoyed last year. The White Helleborines were easily located, though it looks as if many had been eaten by deer, but the Greater Butterflies were a lot harder as they were few in number,fairly short and predominantly in bud. Another couple of weeks and they would look as good as last years visit.
Along with a couple of others, we struggled to locate the Birds Nests and in the end only two small spikes could be found in the birch copse. Suspect the very dry Spring may have had an impact.
More Red Kites in the area, and I found a Marsh Tit in exactly the same bush as last year. One thing we did not get this time were Crossbills.