Yesterday I had my first ever visit to Faggs Wood, part of the Orlestone Forest. It is a designated a Forest Nature Reserve. Although I failed to see one of my target species, Grizzled Skipper I was amply compensated. It wasn't an early start as I had waited for the fog to clear from here, but almost as soon as I entered the wood the sound of the choir of birds was stunning. Nightingales were of the course the major soloists, and it is difficult to estimate the total number I heard, but it was at least six and probably several more. Two or three Willow Warblers sung their mellow song, the first I'd heard in Kent this year, although they were plentiful on Islay a couple of weeks ago.
In the dense coppice along the rides there were more Garden Warblers singing that I have heard at one site before, occasionally a Blackcap could be heard, as if to emphasis the difference in their songs. Where there were larger trees Chiffchaffs joined in, and in the scrubby areas Whitethroats offered their scratchy contribution. Along one of the footpaths I watched a Common Lizard scuttle off through the leaf litter The edge of the ride had a lot of flowering Bugle and this was attractive to a lot of insects. I saw several Bee-flies and Bumble-bees having their fill
I watched this Common Carder Bee for a long time as it went from flower to flower, always managing to move from a good position just as I got the camera focused!
Brimstone Yellows were also common and made use of this plentiful food supply. The other frequent butterfly was the Orange-tip, but as usual they were reluctant to pause as the dashed about.
The walk from Penny Pot Lane seems to get longer as I get older, but eventually I arrived at Bonsai Bank.
The most striking thing was the number of Lady Orchids already well into their pomp. The mild winter means that many of our plant species are weeks ahead of last year.
Some were sill just budding, and even these are attractive plants. In this state their close relationship with Burnt-tipped is apparent.
This on is almost completely out and the Ladies in their bonnets are looking particularly fetching.
These two, peeking from under their bonnets seem to be doing a bit of strictly jigging. Lots of Ladies, but so far no Duke!
A walk along the paths, care must be taken not to trample the plants on this site, revealed only one small butterfly and that was a Dingy Skipper. I slowly made my way back to where I'd left my camera bag, and near it I could see to small butterflies engaged in some aerial squabbling.
Both Dingy Skippers and Dukes of Burgundy are partial to a bit of territorial protection and when one landed and showed its self to be a Skipper. At first I assumed that the other was the same. Then it landed
Down on my hands and rather creaky knees I managed to get a little closer to this little beauty, It was the only one I saw during the visit, but again I was very happy, and this was doubled when I was aware of the background noise, a Turtle Dove singing away. This once common bird in Kent is rapidly assuming the status of a rarity as year by year its numbers fall. As I walked back to my car another Turtle Dove, a very vocal Nuthatch, two Willow Warbler and a March Tit, carrying food completed a memorable day.