Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Ridgeway near Aldworth

A quick post of a one day respite in the continuing 'unsettled' weather which has re-affirmed the weather as our most frequent talking point. I joined a trip with the local natural history society on a five mile walk just off the Great Ridgeway near Aldworth. For a report on all that the group found please look here. This is typical chalk down land with the emphasis on plants. I am not sure which member of the 'umbelifer' family this is, maybe it is Angelica or just plain old Cow Parsley.

red damelsfly

In quite a few places Hedge Woundwort (Stachys sylvatica) was coming into flower.

woundwort,Stachys sylvatica

We came across a very healthy looking specimen of Hemlock (Conium maculatum) with its distinctive purple spotted stems.

hemlock,Conium maculatum

In the last posting I had a picture of Black Bryony, now it is the turn of the totally unrelated White Bryony (Clematis vitalba) to come into flower.

white bryony,Clematis vitalba

I hoped to see some orchids, but had to make do with just two clumps, however the Pyramidal orchid (Anacamptis pyramdalis) is one of my favourites.

Pyramidal Orchid,Anacamptis pyramdalis

Butterflies were few and far between, saw fleetingly, Common Blue; Speckled Wood; Brimstone; Small Heath, but the real highlight visually of the trip was seeing Mullein Moth Caterpillars on Mullein leaves (where else!) for the first shot you can see the skin it has recently shed to enable it to grow by another body size.

Mullein Moth Caterpillar,Cucullia verbasci

A few yards further along the track was a whole load of them, and I caught this equally scary looking one from more of a side view.

Mullein Moth Caterpillar,Cucullia verbasci

The day was better for moths than butterflies as we also saw a few Cinnabar moths (Tyria jacobaeae).

Cinnabar moth,Tyria jacobaeae

This area close to the Goring Gap is very picturesque with sweeping vistas.

ridgeway view

One of the less common plants was Field Gromwell (Lithospermum arvense) perhaps the alternative common name of Bastard Alkanet is more suitable for it.

Field Gromwell,Lithospermum arvense

One of the plants that often elude a good photograph is the Figwort (Scrophularia nodosa), this is as good as I have got.

Figwort,Scrophularia nodosa

This view shows Starveall Farm (not a particularly promising name) looking East to the Chilterns. The Great Ridgeway runs along the edge of the distant ridge.

ridgeway view

The ancient stature of Unhill Wood is confirmed by the presence of such things as a Wild Service Tree (Sorbus torminalis) with the fruits beginning to form

Wild Service Tree,Sorbus torminalis

On my way back, I stopped off at Streatley, to a noted National Trust reserve called 'The Holies' in hope of seeing more plants and insects. There were a large number of Common Spotted Orchids (Dactylorhiza fuchsii) - hundreds of them dotted over the downs.

Common Spotted,Dactylorhiza fuchsii

Common Spotted Orchid Meadow

There were a great many pyramidal orchids too but not yet in full bloom.

Pyramidal Orchid,Anacamptis pyramdalis

Walking on a path around the perimeter of the reserve I spotted this Kidney Vetch.

kidney vetch,Anthyllis vulneraria

And finally another plant to end on, continuing the offal theme, a Bladder Campion (Silene vulgaris)

Bladder Campion,Silene vulgaris