Thursday 12 June 2014

Week 21/A: The Power of a Little Flower

Tuesday morning the sky was blue, the sun was shining and I was feeling absurdly overwhelmed by the possibilities for a walk around Box Moor. Blue skies in particular are so rare that you feel as though you have to ring every last ounce of potential out of days like that. Just the thought of it can be exhausting!

I arrived at Dellfield with only one aim. To photograph the Oak. Good light and blue sky is like being faced with an open goal. Too many options, too rare an opportunity to miss: bound to mess it up. Anyway, having snapped the Oak, I took a wander around the meadow. A Silver Y (Autographa gamma) fluttered up from the grass, numerous Burnet Companions floated by, and there were mating Soldier Beetles (Cantharis rustica) and Scorpion flies (Panorpa communis) galore. I found a single flowering Poppy and a snazzy Five- or Six-Spot Burnet caterpillar (not sure which). Photographing them was like something out of a Laurel and Hardy sketch - every time the breeze died down, I’d just about compose the shot, be ready to fire, and a puff of wind would scupper my efforts (although not entirely, as you can see). Over and over, this happened until I eventually gave up, feeling increasingly paralysed by the potential of the day and my inability to capitalise on it.

I moved on from Dellfield and up to Preston Hill to catch up with the Broad-bodied Chasers. One male was definitely still around. I then carried on through Hay Wood and onto Bovingdon Reach. My idea was to walk to Ramacre Wood and check again for Spotted Flycatchers. Little did I know my morning was about to be transformed by the discovery of a little flower. There I was, somewhat dejected and flummoxed and, down there, just to my right, what did I spy? A Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera)! I couldn’t quite believe my eyes. But, true enough, there it was.....and then, there was another. And another. And another. And this went on and on. In one small area, there must have been around 30 spikes of Bee Orchids*. Dejection was quickly replaced by pure joy! From what I can gather, they have not been reported here before and are considered rare for the area. I suspected they were something special when I found them and I finally knew how I was going to best use this beautiful morning of near perfect light and potential: photographing the Box Moor Bee Orchids. And, they deserve a post of their own...

*I went back to Bovingdon Reach on Wednesday evening, sure that I must have over-estimated the number of Bee Orchids. I did a fairly thorough count and totalled 92 spikes!

Left, 19 February 2014; Right, 10 June 2014