Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Grazing on a Sunny Afternoon

The various organisations that manage the downland use a number of different grazing beasts to provide habitats suitable for the plants, insects and reptiles to flourish. Highland cattle seem to have become popular (and they are a very attractive addition to the Kent countryside).
I've spent hours combing the hillsides above Folkestone, looking for the few elusive late spider-orchid colonies that have apparently increased because of the grassland management, but without success. Needles and haystacks come to mind. This has, however, led me to places that I'd not known, such as Creteway Down, where thousands of fragrant orchids grow.
Perhaps the cattle and horses eat the late spiders, and leave the smelly fragrant orchids? Elsewhere, similarly large numbers of pyramidal orchids are starting to show.

Also on Creteway Down was a single stem of betony, unremarkable in itself, apart from its similarity to Groucho Marx. According to Culpepper (quoted by Macleod) it was 'a very precious herbe...it helpest those that piss or spit blood' and was 'an aid to childbirth'. Go on, give it a try.
These Dexter cattle are roaming across the South Foreland near St Margaret's, looking tough but standing only a metre or so tall.

Musk or nodding thistle

Large skipper

Small tortoiseshell, having a better year?

Squinancywort, good for quinsies or sore throats

Woolly thistle - how (why?) has this evolved like this?

Crow garlic - just a sniff of this was feared to turn a cow's milk sour.


Anonymous said...

The Musk is an impressive thistle. Highland cattle are popular grazers here on the IoW too. They've got feral goats on St Boniface Down (above Ventnor) which come as quite a surprise when you find yourself being followed.

Warren Baker said...

Stunning pics today steve. Well done mate.

Greenie said...

Steve ,
The Kinks , wasn't it ?
Which of the reasons led you to taking Betony ?
That Woolly Thistle is certainly a strange one , never seen it .

Mary said...

You've got some neat stuff here! Love those shaggy cows...don't see any like that here. That shot of the bee approaching the flower is awesome! Beautiful butterflies. Wish I would see a greater variety. What an odd thistle...the woolly one. Very strange, but beautiful and interesting to take photos of :-)