Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Autumn is officially in Bloom.

Today I decided to walk from The Monument along the cliff top to Hope Point and beyond. This is the time when Autumn Ladies Tresses (Spiranthes spiralis) flower.

As I approached "Little Green" I could see that the grass had be cut out side the fence and the much of the lawn was closely mown. Last year the whole of the grass was short cropped when I went to look and there were none of this beautiful little Orchid to see. Today it was much better. A large area had been left and the the small spikes were abundant here.

They normally grow to three or four inches, occasionally up to six inches, and by orchid standards they're not very spectacular, but they are a favourite of mine. In the UK they are mostly found south of a line from Bristol to London, with a few scattered colonies as far north as Morecambe Bay.

As well as growing over wide areas in single spikes they also for nice little groups that seem to have an added beauty. They are usually found on short. dry nutrient-poor turf in sunny situations, often near the sea.

The spikes have form 2-21 flowers, with and average of 9-11, and they are arranged in a row up the stem. The stem is usually twisted so that a spiral pattern is formed but in some cases the twist is very slight.

Butterflies were few and I only saw Small Whites, a few Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers one Red Admiral and this very tatty Chalkhill Blue, at Moon Rakers. Here there was also a Migrant Hawker Dragonfly feeding round the pine trees. Small birds were noticeable by their almost total absence and, apart from Linnets, I saw a few Swallow moving through, just one Whitethroat, one Willow Warbler and a Pied Wagtail. A Green Woodpecker provided some entertainment but the bulk of birds were Wood Pigeons, they seem to be numerous what ever the conditions.

Granville Road House Update. The house I described yesterday is called (the new) Quiet Shades and replaces the old house. The full story can be found here.

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