Thursday, 28 June 2012

Up on the Downs

As fine day, and a good walk today. The downs at Temple Ewell and Lydden is a SSSI, and managed by the Kent Wildlife Trust. Not only is it a superb piece of chalk grassland it also affords great views from the top of the downs.

Of course the chalk grasslands of Kent are renowned for their orchids, and although I cam across nothing unusual it is always fantastic to see wild orchids close to. The majority today were Fragrant orchids. Their scent is best sampled in he evening when it lures insects to the flowers and they act as pollinators.

As I was looking down I was suddenly aware that up was where I should be aiming, and by the time I did this Buzzard was already drifting away.

The whole area was fulkl of wild flowers, and I've always be fascinated by these Bladder Campions, like the Starling they have a specific name of vulgaris, most unfair!

Butterflies were bit disappointing today. I only saw a couple of blues and they were both worn out. I presume this is a Common Blue form the first generation of the year, on it's last legs.

There were a good few Small Heaths, unobtrusively flitting through the long grass, but no skippers as yet.

A second Buzzard was more cooperative and circled above my head before moving on.

At the top of the down, next to agricultural land there were a few Linnets perched up. Male Linnets do seem to spend most of their time showing off  so usual the males were on show, while the females were, probably attending to domestic duties, nests, eggs, young etc.In this area I could also hear a Yellowhammer singing, but I didn't see him.

The other butterfuly that was present in good numbers was the Meadow Brown. I met Phil Smith while I was wandering and we did see one Marbled White, probably freshly emerged, but it fluttered off before I could catch up with it.

As well as the Fragrant Orchids there were a few Pyrimidal Orchids, but I could only find pretty small ones, perhaps a function of our non--existent summer so fsr.

This one was a little further out, but still quite a small specimen.

This is another of the Fragrant Orchids. The very long spurs on the flowers can be seen. While a feeding moth is extracting the nectar of the spur the pollinia sticks to the insects proboscis and is carried to the next plant where it is transfered. This seems to be a very efficient method and seed is set in large quantities. 

Along one bank towards the bottom of the downs there was a colony of several dozen Fragrant Orchids. a splendid site and sight.

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