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Saturday, 20 June 2015

Orchids and Tortoises

Bee Orchid
Southern Marsh Orchid

Every year we count Bee Orchids Ophrys apifera in an unimproved meadow in Bude.  The field is mowed once a year but despite becoming overgrown with rank grasses, it continues to be quite species rich and diverse.

We counted over 30 Bee Orchids and there were also over 80 Southern Marsh Orchids as well as Yellow Rattle, Vetches, Fleabane, Bird’s-foot Trefoil and many other flowering plants.

5-spot Burnet moth
I was supposed to be concentrating on Orchids but could not fail to notice the Sedge Warbler singing for the whole time of the survey.

Walking head down with notebook, pencil and camera in hand I also recorded all the invertebrates that I kept seeing.  This included butterflies and moths – Common Blue, Meadow Brown, 6-spot Burnet and Silver Y Moths.  The Burnet was particularly well represented with adult, larva (caterpillar) and many cocoons on the stems of long grasses.

Fleabane Tortoise Beetle
The best sighting was of something totally new to me; a strange orange and black-spotted beetle that looked like a tiny armoured vehicle.  Within half and hour of posting the image on an insect group in Facebook, I had an identification.  It was something that until then I was unaware of as there are no pictures in my insect book – the aptly named Fleabane Tortoise Beetle Cassida murraea