Thursday, 24 June 2010

Belated Spider Orchids

At last...... finally...... after many hours of tramping the Folkestone escarpment of the North Downs, I've found one of the colonies of Late Spider Orchids. There's only a handful of small colonies in Britain, all on these East Kent hills, and although the one at Wye is well-known the others are understandably kept secret - hence my searching.
V.S. Summerhayes in his seminal book Wild Orchids of Britain describes the lip "which is thought to resemble the body of a large garden spider, is four-angled rather than circular [as in the bee orchid] and often widens somewhat towards the front. At the very tip it is furnished with an upturned fleshy three-lobed appendage". A true scientist, he comments on the fine detail but perhaps loses something of the jovial character and beauty of the flower.

I counted 28 spikes and in some places they were growing with Man and Pyramidal Orchids.


Notes from the shortest night..........

A Tawny Owl landed on a small tree as I sat on the patio in the dusk, drinking my late-night Ovaltine. It looked at me, I looked at it, then it silently flew back into the trees.

This was followed by some strange wheezing sounds, as if a child was quietly snoring. I found a torch and picked out a young owl on a branch nearby, still wheezing.

We visited Clowes Woods to hear Nightjars; shortest night/bright moon, so they were late - a Woodcock passed twice on its roding flight at about 10, followed by a Nightjar at about 10.15 - churring away on a high exposed branch.

Walking back to the car, we saw two glowworms in the grass, glowing - not flashing while flying like the ones I saw in Italy.


Duncan said...

Oh, you make the land around here sound so magical. It's a great encouragement for me to get out into it more.

I am glad to discover I was not the only one making a late night for myself by my choice of solstice activities - I spent the late evening of the longest day trying to find the Solstice Comet.

Kingsdowner said...

Duncan, thanks for the comment. We reaps what we sows, as they say.

I wish I'd known about the comet last night, as searching for it would have passed the time waiting for the Nightjar.

Greenie said...

Steve ,
Well done with finally getting the Late Spider .
Have only seen them at PGD .
Just a thought , could your Italian insects have been Fireflies ? As it's the female Glowworm that glows , and she can't fly , no wings !

Kingsdowner said...

thanks for the advice on fireflies. After a little research I learn that the term 'firefly' includes 'glowworm', but not vice-versa.
Therefore we saw fireflies in Italy, and glowworms (a kind of firefly) in Kent. I think.