Walks around the Bramshill plantation.Bramshill Orchids 2010
Bramshill and Riseley
Bramshill and Hazeley Heath 2014
For the past three years I have included a post of Bramshill Plantation at this time of year. A rare glimpse of warm sunshine tempted me out for a brief circuit at lunchtime. I did not want to wait much longer as it is nearly mid summer and usually orchids have passed their best by this time of year. The unusually cool Spring and now dry spell has not given the plants and insects much chance to prosper. Bramshill has not been immune, although the usual spots did have some nice orchids they were shorter and fewer than in previous years. The number of butterflies I saw was very low, I only saw common blue; green hairstreak for definite and a cinnabar moth. Usually I'd see Skippers and in the past Fritillaries. There were quite a few dragonflies (well actually chasers) and damselflies though.
On my first visit to Bramshill I saw a couple of Bee Orchids (Ophrys apifera) and there are still some still flowering there this year. Not as many as I have seen in other years, but always good to see
The first thing I noted was not a plant but a strange noise. As it seemed to come from a pond I suspected a bird or amphibian. A little research on my return suggests it could only have been the loud, raucous call of a Marsh Frog. These are foreign invaders spreading from Kent/Sussex. A bit of a concern as they are pushing out our Common Frogs. They are difficult to spot as only the head protrudes above water so there is no photograph. Anyway I went to Bramshill for the orchid display mainly and there were quite a few Common Spotted Orchids (Dactylorhiza fuchsii) with the deeply lobed bottom petal
I found one with a crab spider (Misumena vatia) on the flower.
The Southern Marsh Orchids (Dactylorhiza praetermissa) made a fine display around one of the pools.
And in close up you can see the much reduced central lobe.
And here's another one with slightly different petal shapes.
There were other flowers out, here are a couple at random: Thyme leaved speedwell (Veronica serpyllifolia).
And Tormentil (Potentilla erecta)
A couple of more successful pictures next - from the photographic point of view. I always struggle to capture the tiny flowers of Figwort (Scrophularia nodosa). The little tubular flowers are impossible to auto-focus onto so it is a matter of setting manual focus and hoping for the best.
I saw so few butterflies that I was delighted that one held still while I got within an inch of it. Although 'just' a common blue (Polyommatus icarus) it does have lovely markings.
Finally one last orchid. Probably the same plant as I have included before, but I am still not sure what orchid it is. The 'wings' of the lower petal are too square for common spotted orchid but it has a deep lobe and can't be southern marsh orchid. I know that orchids hybridize so may be that is what has happened here.