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.

Horizons

Travelling round the Northern Cape province of S.A.  as we have been for the last week you get used to the amazing scenery, although I am not taking it for granted. I describe it as being able to see all the way from one horizon to the other horizon, with a bit of road in between.

However today even our normal amazing horizon landscape was surpassed.

We were travelling from Calvinia which is Northern cape down to Citrusdale which is Cape coast and on the border between the two states you come to an escarpment and then it is about 10Km of switch backs down to the plateau below and the views are amazing. This is the best I could do photographically.

 

White-eyes

As someone once said; with whom I do have a tenuous connection, ‘Small is beautiful’

This is a small bird called the Orange River White-Eye and although the original comment about small being beautiful, was not aimed at birds, I am sure everyone would agree that this little bird is quite beautiful. It has peachy buff flanks.

There are three White-Eyes in Southern Africa. Not surprisingly the Orange River one is found along the Orange River. There is also a Cape White-Eye, which I saw in Kirstenbosh gardens in Cape Town. It has a grey belly.

The third one is the African Yellow White-Eye and this is found on the east coast and up through Mozambique, I saw this one on Inhaca island which is off Maputo. It has a yellow belly.

These birds are quite active searching through the leaves for insects. It makes them quite difficult to photograph….that’s my excuse.

I first saw White-Eyes in Cornwall…. yes in Cornwall at the Eden project where they were purposely introduced to one of the domes in order to control and insect pests that might occur. The one there though is a pale-bellied white-eye and is from Indonesia.

Pygmy Falcon

Getting near to going home time but we are still touring round. Now we are on the Orange river…. which is actually green at the moment. Yesterday on our way from Springbok to Uppington we detoured to the Augrabies  Falls, which are on the Orange river. Absolutely amazing scenery and there is a game reserve, part of which was accessible to us in a non 4WD vehicle.  On the way round we saw this little bird of prey. A Pygmy Falcon, it only weighs about 60grams

What a little gem