Walks around the Bramshill plantation.Bramshill Orchids 2010
Bramshill and Riseley
Bramshill and Hazeley Heath 2014
Well my prayers were answered in the form of a decent amount of rain in the last couple of weeks, not enough to make up for the long term deficit but enough to keep plants happy for the moment.
Each year I take a look around the Bramshill plantation just south of Reading. This year I chose to go a bit early on in the year on the basis that we have had some very hot days which should have brought on the plants to flower a bit early. It turned out a bit disappointing. The Forestry Commission have fenced off the most interesting pond (from a botanical point of view). The notices state that this was to keep dogs from spreading invasive pond weeds which I suppose is fair enough, but a shame walkers are excluded too.
The orchids were smaller than usual with shorter flowering spikes. This is a pair of Southern Marsh Orchids (Dactylorhiza praetermissa).
There were a good number of dragonflies including 'darters' and 'chasers'. However the warm conditions caused them to rarely sit still for any length of time. I had to make do with a few of the smaller damselflies. This one may be Beautiful Demoiselle (Calopteryx virgo), based mainly on very dark colour, hard to be sure from this angle.
I saw no bee orchids at their normal spot by a pond, I looked for rosettes of leaves and saw none, so may be the dry winter and spring have discouraged the orchids from showing this year. The recent rains had created some pools and muddy areas. I looked in a known area for Lousewort (Pedicularis sylvatica) that likes the mud and was pleased to see a number of plants in flower .
Along the same track a damselfly was perched above me, this time bright green. This may make it an Emerald Damselfly, but can't be sure.
Previously I had seen Lousewort (Pedicularis sylvatica) in only one location, by a bit of good luck I was able to find it in three new locations which is good for this fairly scarce plant (at least in this area).
I had hoped for a better photograph of this subject. In this photo there is actually a moth and a butterfly, can you see both of them? The moth is a Burnet Companion (Euclidia glyphica). You can be forgiven for not spotting the butterfly, it is doing an excellent leaf impersonation - it is a Green Hairstreak (Callophrys rubi) just to 'north east' of the flower.
I spotted this pretty little flower, it looks like it may be a 'double' form of one of cinquefoils, not sure which one!
There were a good number of butterflies around, but most had no intention of staying still for very long. The species I saw were mainly Common Blue and Speckled Wood but I did see a very early Meadow Brown and of course the Green Hairstreak. It is the time that skipper butterflies begin to emerge so I was pleased to see a Large Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus).
I was disappointed not to find Bee Orchids (Ophrys apifera) where I normally see dozens so I decided to look for them in an area I had previously seen one or two plants. I was pleased to find two orchids in flower and one in bud.
Finally in this fairly brief walk I saw another moth/butterfly fluttering around. It was very small and I could not be sure of identification until I consulted the books. It is a particularly dark Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus malvae).