Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Sunday in the Chilterns.

 Having chatted to Bill on Saturday about orchids currently flowering,  a couple of posts in Bird Forum suggested a few sites that would be worth visiting.
 We started off at Warburg, as it is always interesting and there would be a host of plants and insects to photograph. Unfortunately the visitor centre was closed when we arrived so it was a case of do a circuit and see what we could find. The first good item, a blue haze up one of the side tracks turned out to be Salvia Pratensis though it seemed to be much bluer than the forms I have grown in the garden. Made a nice contrast with the various yellow plants such as Agrimony.

 Among the hoards of Ringlets, Meadow Browns and Marbled Whites we were lucky to find a Silver Washed Fritillary.

 Brambles were the favoured nectar source though the Pyramidal Orchids were also visited-the pink ones at least. There were also a few white flowered forms.

 Another nice sight was a small Slow Worm under a piece of iron.

 We eventually arrived at the beech woods and on climbing up a track I found a number of orchids in cages. Unfortunately all but one were in bud, but luckily the single flowering spike had two open flowers and we were able to confirm they were as expected  Narrow Lipped Orchids. Also in the same area, a number of bamboo markers drew our attention to several flowers of Yellow Birds Nest.

 At this time of year birds are a bit quiet-young birds are a bit shy and the adults are either back on the nest or hiding away moulting. Apart from a singing Chiffchaff and a couple of Blackcaps, the only visible birds were Red Kites-cant really miss them in this area and a family of Marsh Tits.

 Leaving Warburg we headed north east, encountering many more Kites and arrived at College Lake early in the afternoon. Now this is a site that gets a lot of mentions in the local blogs, Yahoo groups and so on, but for me it is a bit inconvenient to get to, and my last visit was the 1994 Chiltern Bird Fair, not long after the quarry had finished and been passed over to the local Wildlife trust. Its changed quite a bit over the years and has matured into a superb reserve.
 Enquiring at the centre regarding orchids we got a few pointers but had been told that the local expert had just gone. Luckily one of the staff who was leaving found them and returned to give us specific directions to the Green Flowered Helleborines. We were told there were four or five plants at the bottom of one of the tracks.
 Colin and I searched the area thoroughly and of the 17 plants found, about half were in flower, though unfortunately the biggest and best was buried so deeply under brambles we could not get images. Also in the area were many White Helleborines bearing large seed pods.

 Retracing our steps we found a couple of fairly fresh Bee Orchids, but the rather warm walk over to the other side of the lake where the majority of Bees are located proved fruitless mainly because I ended up following the wrong path. It was however interesting as this was the area the Bird Fair was held all those years ago and some bits were still just about recognisable.

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