Friday, 17 July 2015

July 17th Upton Fen and Cary's Meadow

View from Upton Fen
On July 12th 2012, Dad and I went searching for orchids at Cary's Meadow near Norwich and at Upton Fen. We were very lucky that day as we found several common spotted orchids and pyramidal orchids at Cary's Meadow and Southern marsh orchids and marsh helleborines at Upton Fen. Today, we decided to try and find them again to see if they are still growing there three years on. This time, we are starting at Upton first and then Cary's Meadow.

Reading back to that day in 2012 in my wildlife diary from that year, there was an impressive thunderstorm the day before with an amazing light show of lightning. By coincidence, there was an impressive storm last night, three years later, too.  It was around midnight and bright light of lightning illuminating my bedroom curtains relentlessly, but there was no thunder. The storm was still quite a distance away. Then when I managed to fall asleep, the rain hammered down and woke me up. The sound of thunder boomed extremely loud. It was right above my flat! The sound was so loud, that I thought my flat was hit by lightning! Fortunately I wasn't and I went back to sleep.

Southern Marsh Orchid (pink)
It was like the storm had never happend while I was at Upton looking for orchids. It was a hot afternoon. The only thing damp was the ground, but this was normal as the ground was part of a reedbed that has been mowed into a path before the orchids even started growing. It was like walking on a sponge, though there were also boardwalks in places too. Walking along the annually mown orchid path, we found the orchids growing along the edges. Most of them were Southern marsh orchids, all in various shades of pink, but there was also a few clumps of the orchid I have mainly came to see.
Southern Marsh Orchid (pale pink)

Marsh helleborines are rather pretty orchids. They are white and pink with yellow centres. They love to grow in this boggy ground and though populations are scattered across England and Wales, the biggest population is here in East Anglia. The emerge in July and Upton Fen is one of the best places in Norfolk to see them.

Marsh Helleborine

Silver-y Moth
As well as orchids, there is a lot of butterflies and dragonflies around. They land onto the boardwalk, bathing in the warmth absorbed by the wood. We found plenty of meadow browns, small tortoiseshells, large whites, commas, the odd gatekeeper, large skipper and peacock representing the butterflies, while the dragonflies consisted of ruddy darters, common darters, brown hawkers and black-tailed skimmers. I also came across a couple of silver-y moths, which are summer migrants and are easily identified by the y-shaped mark on the wings.

Large Skipper
Brown Hawker (the brown wings are a big give away)
Male Black-tailed Skimmer
Ruddy Darter (the black dots at the end of the tail helps for ID purposes)
Great Willowherb
Next up on our orchid tour, was Cary's Meadow. Three years ago, we not only found plenty of orchids, but also other wildflowers and a host of pollinating insects. It was like a rainforest in minature, full of life. We were disappointed this time around, unfortunately. No orchids at all! The meadows are all but mowed down by a small herd of cattle when we arrived today. The wildflowers were reduced to small clumps in what remains of the long grass. Plenty of insects to look at though, just not an orchid.
Female Common Blue Damselfly (I think)
Ox-eyed Dasies
Berries of the Lords and Ladies Lily (never eat these, they're poisonous!)
Robin's Pincushion Gall
Burnet Moth

No comments:

Post a Comment