The county of Kent is undoubtedly one of the best, if not the best, county to see orchids. So far the weather this year has been poor and I've been disappointed at a some local sites for a couple of species.
This isn't the case at Sandwich Bay where there is a magnificent show of Green-winged or Green-veined Orchids, Anacamptis morio (formerly Orchis morio) at the moment.
This beautiful orchid was once reasonably common on pastures and unimproved grassland throughout much of England, Wales and Ireland. Unfortunately Britain now has a lower percentage of wild places than almost any other country in the world and there has been a dramatic decline. We are often told about our wonderful countryside, but of course what that refers to is normally a man made agricultural landscape with scant regard for our wildlife. Don't be fooled when we are told by the National Union of Farmers that they are the custodians of our countryside. what they are, in most cases is a pressure group for a profitable industry.
Back to the orchids, a close look at the individual florets shows just how beautiful they are, and the Green-wings or Green-veins are evident.
I was also luck enough to see a couple of my favourite reptiles, a small Common Lizard, that shot away before I could photo it, and five smallish Slow Worms, one of which did pose for a picture. Slow Worms are in fact legless lizards, not snakes, and are a common reptile that is the gardeners friend, as their diet consists mainly of pest species. Unfortunately their main enemy in the garden is the cat, against which they have no defence. If, like me you don't have a cat, or a dog to chase them out, it seems that every cat considers your garden part of it's territory. I think cat owners should have an obligation, as do dog owners, to keep their animals to themselves, I don't want these destructive killers in my garden!
In amongst the orchids were a few Puff-balls, I know there are several species but I'm not sure how to tell them apart. This one looked like an overgrown gold ball that had been nibbled on one side.