Hunting the Birds nest Orchid

Today I went hunting…. not a bear hunt, not even a bird hunt, just a Birds nest orchid hunt…. I know they like Beech woodland and I know they are difficult to spot as they are brown (lacking any chlorophyll) and so I set off in an area near Staunton where there are some extensive woods and they are predominantly Beech.

Lots of Ramsons about and some Bluebells. Fairly soon I spotted some woodruff which is a nice little wild flower, not spectacular but different.

Then I spotted some Herb Paris, this is an odd plant it has just 4 leaves and it has a weird spiky flower but the first ones I saw were a bit ratty and did not have any flowers.

This was an extensive area of woodland with lots of good paths and I roamed around searching for the Birds nest orchids, I came across quite a lot of Twayblades which are orchids but with small green flowers, not that stunning. Also some other plants which I think were orchids but not in flower…could be Butterfly Orchids, I will return in a few weeks to check them out.

Then I found some Herb Paris which were in flower, again green but I quite like them.

The peace and quite was gradually eroding away as I was getting close to a massive quarry.

In this area I came across more Herb Paris but also some Early Purple Orchids, these are quite common but also quite impressive.

Whilst photographing these I spotted a little Fly Orchid, now this is special and quite rare so I was very happy.

If you look carefully you can even see a small greenfly at the top of the flower spike. No Birds nest Orchids but a good day…

Nags Head…. birds bathing

Taken from the Campbell hide yesterday, one small patch of water in the little pond seemed to attract all the birds for a drink, a wash or even more!

This Song Thrush was the first to visit. Drinking .

Then a wash.

Followed by a Blackbird, also a Goldcrest but he was too quick for me.

 

 

 

 

The Goldfinch was more obliging.

There were numerous Tits visiting, this Blue tit decided the bath was perhaps also a good place for a bit of rumpy pumpy.

I not sure his lady was that impressed…. it was almost all over before it started so her dejected look was perhaps understandable.

Several deer passed by, not looking that impressive at the moment…. moulting .

A blackcap briefly visited, unfortunately no Pied Flycatchers.

This Wood pigeon just stopped by for a drink, I was hoping it might also take a bath as they create quite a lot of splashing and would produce a good photo.

Finally a Long tailed tit.

There were also Coal and Great tits, a tree creeper but that stayed on the trees and there were   Jays and Crows in the area, all in all a very enjoyable day.

Frogs….a-courtin’

Frog went a-courtin’, and he did ride, uh-huh
Frog went a-courtin’, and he did ride, uh-huh
Frog went a-courtin’, and he did ride
With a sword and a pistol by his side, uh-huhfrogs-5

Well they were certainly doing something like that today. Not so much a courtin’ more of an orgy come gang bang.  But he did ride.. oh yes, though some were sharing their ride with several other revelers!frogs-4

I suppose you have to have some sympathy, this being a once a year event. The rest of the year must be purgatory for them.frogs-2

Although they were not so preoccupied that at my approach all the splashing and ‘courtin’ did stop, however not for long, after a while they forgot I was there and continued their activities.

These frogs look a bit odd to me not exactly Rana temporaria, the common frog. They look more like Marsh frogs which I often see in France. Marsh frogs are more uniform in colour  and their eyes bulge more. Here is a photo of one that I took in France, for comparison.untitledfrog

However I looked up the distribution of Marsh frogs in GB and it is all SE/Kent area, so most unlikely. Also frog colouration is quite variable.

frogs-1

 

This was all happening at one of the small ponds on Clearwell Meand. I often go for a walk up there and I was there just a few days ago and was looking out for any signs of frogs or toads but nothing. So all this has kicked off in the last few days.

I also noticed some other activity in the water. Now these are shallow ponds and normally dry up at some stage in the summer. So no fish and not that many big invertebrates like great diving beetles or dragonfly larvae.  I was thinking it might be newts. Then I saw a head poke up where some of the activity had been taking place. It was small but with a 400mm lens and a steady hand this is what I photographed. The photo has also been cropped to get an even closer view.frogs-3

When I was at the pond I thought it might have been a terrapin but now I am not sure what it was. A second visit is needed.

 

 

Forest of Dean in January

Today was bright and sunny and also frosty, which makes for some good photos and also means it is firm underfoot.forest-of-dean-walk8

Crab Tree hill was my first stop, always hoping to see the Great Grey Shrike. First of all though I came across a group of small brown jobs and I am fairly sure this is a female Reed Bunting.forest-of-dean-walk2

Next was a bit easier with its red forehead and this is a Redpoll. There are two types and I am not sure I can tell them apart but this should be a Lesser Redpoll as opposed to a Mealy Redpoll, because the later are only found along the East coast and the Forest of Dean certainly isn’t that.forest-of-dean-walk4

As I went up Crab Tree hill I was blessed with some good views of the Shrike, fairly high up in some willows but with a bit of overexposure I got some reasonable shots.forest-of-dean-walk3

I roamed around as you do and saw the Shrike in the distance several more times also a Tree creeper but no decent shots and eventually I headed off to look for a Dipper.

My destination was Wenchford  picnic site. No Dipper and no wenches! but an obliging Grey Wagtail.forest-of-dean-walk7

Also  a brief encounter with a Long-tailed Tit.forest-of-dean-walk5

On my way back I stopped off at Parkend and saw the Hawfinches.forest-of-dean-walk10 forest-of-dean-walk6

 

 

However my best shot of the day was I think this female Blackbird.forest-of-dean-walk9