Wednesday, 25 June 2014

In the rough

Before we notice it, spring has gone and summer has arrived, ushered in by long days, warm nights and the first meadow browns and marbled whites.

The Leas at Kingsdown is a good place to see roosting marbled whites, often head down on the vegetation, and this year the grass here and elsewhere is thick and lush - pity the poor golfers finding their ball in the rough. Also thriving here is the naturalised everlasting pea, so if any long-tailed blues would like to fly over again, there's plenty of food here. Or if any egg collectors have any eggs collected from elsewhere?

Elsewhere, orchids are flourishing in the most unusual of places. Along the A20 and M20 around Folkestone and on the roundabouts there are hundreds of pyramidal orchids, while common spotted orchids on the Western Heights seem to be in thousands.

 In the dryer areas of the Folkestone area, however, profusion of another sort is seen - lawns of common cudweed line the A20.

A new plant for me was found under the Eurostar bridge..... fiddleneck Amsinckia micrantha which is a wool shoddy escape, and very infrequent.

Monday, 2 June 2014

So little time, so much to do

It's that dashing time of the year when spring is bursting into summer, and all the joys of the season emerge at once. The temptation is to dash around seeing all the favourites before they fade, fly away or die.

Tick them all off again, even though you've seen them every year for the past three/ten/fifty.
It's mid-May..... I must check on the adonis blues / late spider orchids / nightjars....... even if they are a long drive away on someone else's patch.

Resist the temptation. There's good stuff on your doorstep, or at least there is here, and we know we're lucky in this corner, surrounded by downland, cliffs, the sea and marshes. And the suburbs of Dover, where the Old Park Hill area is being regenerated to bring back the diversity that has (temporarily) been lost after grazing ceased a couple of decades ago.

Or the hills above the housing estates of Folkestone, which are breaking out into a beautiful tapestry of colour as orchids, horseshoe vetch, rock rose and the rest .......

.....and capping each hill top, a plant or two of common gromwell.
At first glance it was easy to see that there were many burnet moth cocoons on grass stems, glaucous sedge spikes and (notably) the fence wires.
 On closer inspection, there were also many, many caterpillars preparing for that stage of the life - they were everywhere. Sit down with care.

Other trips revealed
- three calling cuckoos including a bubbling, egg-laying female on Minster marshes, where at least five nightingales gloriously sang, and occasionally showed themselves - 

                                                   - a tiny grass snake at Sandwich Bay -

- where the "wild" lupins seem to be spreading inexorably. I dislike lupins in gardens, but these seem right in the big-sky marshes - 

- Nottingham catchfly above Dover docks, subject to an informal survey this year -

And OK a bit of plant-twitching....... greater butterfly orchid at Park Gate Down (the Mecca) and an evil sprite masquerading as a fly orchid.