09/09/2017 Edge Hill University, Ormskirk

Dune Helleborine: (Epipactis dunensis) Amazing to see such a rare and unassuming wild orchid in such a strange place, a grassy verge on the edge of a park in a University!

I've never visited Edge Hill before and strck gold by choosing a Sunday to go, good parking and no one acost me. The uni is a lovley place, with a ornimental pond full of Mallard and lost of manicured garden style areas.


Really good to catch a rare glimpse of a threatened species of orchid, the Dune Helleborine which was discovered back in 2014 were there was fewer than 10 plants, in 2016 this had increased to 86 and this year 2017 the count is at shot up to amazing 198.

This species is nationally scarce with fewer than 100 hectad records for the species.
These unassuming spires rare orchids often occur only in dune slacks at places such as Formby and Sandscale Haws, where it can be present in the hundreds on the dune sides rather than the floor of the slack.


It's flowers are small, yellowish-green and washed pink, with the epichile triangular, broader than long and folded back at the tip.
The leaves are small, yellow-green and arranged in two rows up the stem, typically 30 - 35 cm tall and difficult to spot.
I've read that the best time to see Dune Helleborine and when its generally at its best is around the second and third weeks of July.

 
Thanks to Joshua Styles for sharing his images and reporting his sightings on his Twitter pages, top lad.

30/08/2017 Fermyn Woods Country Park, Kettering

Silver-washed Fritillary: Fermyn woods is one of the places I have recently heard about and have been dead keen to go visit. It's a famous place for butterflies, including the rarer ones such as black hairstreak, purple emperor, white admiral and white letter hairstreak.
Fermyn Woods are an ancient woodlands containing semi-natural oak and ash woods, along with conifer plantations. Situated in the heart of the Rockingham Forest, the park offers access to fantastic woodlands, meadows, thickets, marshes and ponds to explore.
I took the opportunity to make the small diversion on my way to Essex to see my mum and very glad I did as I managed to see almost all my target butterflies.
Purple Emperor: Number one was this beauty, the very large and very tricky to see Purple Emperor or Britain's "rock star butterfly."
They are Britain’s second largest butterfly, with a wingspan of more than 8cm and they are very elusive, flying high in the tree tops of woodlands to feed on aphid honey dew and tree sap.


I saw plenty of large butterflies flying above the tree canopy but never had a decent enough view to spot the emperor, I was about to give up when this stunning female landed right in front of me, affording me some excellent views.










Silver-washed Fritillary: The woods were awash with all sorts of bugs, birds and butterflies and it was deep in the woods where I saw the largest populations of Fritillaries.




This butterfly is our largest fritillary and gets it's name from the beautiful streaks of silver found on the underside of the wings, look close here and you will see no 'pearls' but silvery steaks.









White Admiral: Another new butterfly to add to my list was this, the White Admiral, another woodland species and a delight to behold as it literally glides along forest rides, flying from tree to forest floor and back up with only a few effortless wing beats.
For this reason, some of its closest relatives on the continent are known as "gliders".


I could have spent all day here, not just because it was miles away and took me ages to get to but it is a brilliant little place. It was a shame I had to leave to complete my journey to Southend.
Marbled White: In the middle of the park, between the visitor centre and woodlands there is a small raised area which contains a wild flower meadow.
Spend some time here and you will see the marvellous marbles White butterfly.
The word awesome is sometimes an overused and overrated word.....but in the case of Fermyn Woods Country Park, the word awesome is very apt!

The place was full of fluttering butterflies.