Saturday, 9 January 2016

I found bee orchids in Clopton Field

A number of us regularly look out for bee orchids up the Welcombe Hills. Usually, we look out for the flowers to appear. This is because once the spring growth gets going  the leaves can be difficult to spot in amongst the grass. They have also tended to appear singly and not always in the same place making discovery that much more of a challenge. 

I was walking up the Hills marvelling at the lushness of the grass which the weather hasn't told to take a winter rest. Here and there plants were starting to show and then, eyes glued to the ground, I came across a patch of bee orchid plants. They are quite distinctive with pointed finger-like leaves growing out laterally from a tight rosette in the centre. I counted 7 of these in one small area. I find that when you 'get your eye in' it becomes easier to spot things and judging by the number of other bee orchid plants I subsequently came across this year could be a good one for them.

How many will actually flower is another matter. Those with 2 and 4 feet will no doubt play their part in deciding which plants make it to  flower. Bee orchids are common in England but not so common up the Welcombe. This adds to the pleasure of finding them in flower.

I came across a blog link from a group mapping the orchids in their area. It might be fun to create a map of where these bee orchids are coming through up the Welcombe and then we can see just how many make it to flower. Here is some more information abut the bee orchid.

As well as the bee orchids which flower in June/July, look out for cowslips all over the hills and especially on the slopes that catch the sun and near bushes. The last few years have been good for them. 

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

I heard woodpeckers drumming and saw some cup fungi this morning up the Welcombe

This morning we decided the Rowley Fields were just too muddy and headed straight for Clopton Park. It was mild and the sun even broke through. The grass was lush. The Blue Legs (Lepista Saeva - Field Blewit) have gone to mush but surprisingly there are still some Wax Caps about and even some fresh Meadow Wax Caps protruding through the grass. In the distance the sound of woodpeckers drumming in the tree tops made me think it was spring. If I'd seen a swallow I wouldn't have been surprised.

We made our way up the slope towards the Cedar that sits half way up. We go that way often to look for signs that the Tawny Owl has been there - the spattering of white down the tree trunk and the tell-tale pellets on the ground. We were here a few days ago with a friend and I wanted to show her a particular fungus that grows under cedars - Sepultaria sumneriana. I hadn't looked for this cup fungus for a few years and assumed it would still be there but when we looked there was no sign of it. Today I wasn't really looking for it but the cream of the interior of the fungus stood out amongst the green grass and there were several fine specimens.

Sometimes people send me pictures of fungi wanting to know its name. Knowing where the fungus was found and what  it was growing on or near are crucial things to know. In the case of this fungus, knowing that it grew under cedar narrows it down to a single species. My field guide says 'season winter to late spring'. So the picture, the habitat and the time of year just about nails it.