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Friday, 26 June 2020

And Now For Something Different! - on 15th, 17th, and 21st June, 2020

Last week was a bit of a difficult one, weatherwise, for photographic outings. We had a lot of rain, but with some sunny periods accompanied by breezy conditions for much of the time. I did, however, manage some short outings, two of which were somewhat different to what  you might expect of me. I will explain!

Monday, 15th June

I had a call late morning from a good friend to say that the previous day he'd been to see 'The Leicester Lizard'. The Lizard Orchid is very rare, usually associated with south-east England but there has been just one plant recorded in Leicestershire, having been found around 5 years ago by someone who didn't know what he'd seen, and only officially recorded (I think) two years ago. My friend suggested that I went to have a look, giving me directions.

I set off, and found the orchid with comparative ease, as it stands quite high above the surrounding vegetation. It certainly is a truly remarkable orchid.


Lizard Orchid (Himantoglosssum hircinum) - undisclosed site, Leicestershire
There was further excitement this year when a second plant of this species was found over the other side of the road. This is a young plant and still quite small. The flowers had not yet fully developed.

Lizard Orchid (Himantoglosssum hircinum) (young plant) - undisclosed site, Leicestershire
I'd been told that nearby were Bee Orchids, and was given a very specific location. It seems, however, that these had mysteriously disappeared in the past 24 hours. 

There were many Meadow Brown butterflies flying around.

Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina) - undisclosed site, Leicestershire
I was also delighted to see a Burnet Companion day-flying moth - sadly, it was a little the worse for wear.

Burnet Companion (Euclidia glyphica) - undisclosed site, Leicestershire
As I had rather a lot at home that needed attending to, I headed directly home again.

Wednesday, 17th June

I had another call, again late morning, and from the same friend, who had that morning been to Cloud Wood in Leicestershire to see the somewhat uncommon, although not rare, Greater Butterfly-orchid. Heavy rain was predicted for later, and there was a breeze blowing and photographing a flower in a wood seemed to have a more promising outcome than looking for dragons, so I set off, following directions that had kindly been given to me by a lady on the Monday, supplemented by my friend's information.

Arriving on site, I thought I was going to be in trouble as it started raining. Thankfully, however, it was a light shower which soon passed. I was soon seeing Common Spotted Orchid along the rides.


Common Spotted-orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii) - Cloud Wood
This magnificent bracket fungus caught my eye. I believe it to be Dryad's Saddle - an edible species, but I shan't be putting it to the test!

Dryad's Saddle (Cerioporus squamosus) - Cloud Wood
A little further on, I noticed a couple of beetles working on the next generation. On checking, I get the impression that these are quite a speciality of Cloud Wood.

beetle (Rutpela maculata) - Cloud Wood
I found the Greater Butterfly-orchids with no trouble at all, and was busy photographing them when I was accosted by a lady asking where she could find the Greater Butterfly-orchids. I told her that they were right in front of me and if she cared to step back to a safe distance I would come away and let her in. She was happy to oblige and we had a pleasant conversation before I left her to it. Here are a couple of shots of the orchids. Now I knw a bit more about them I realise that I could do with another visit to take better shots of an individual flower to show the defining ID features.


Greater Butterfly-orchid (Platanthera chlorantha) - Cloud Wood
On my way back, I noticed a Bee Orchid. I wasn't surprised that I'd missed it on the way in as it was on an exceedingly short stem (probably no more than 4 inches (10 cm) long, almost hidden in the undergrowth, and in a rather poor condition. I confess to clearing around it slightly in order to get a record shot.

Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera) - Cloud Wood
Further on, I spotted a Swollen-thighed Beetle lurking in deep shade - hence the relatively poor photo. I believe this was a female due to the un-swollen thighs.

Swollen-thighed Beetle (Oedemera nobilis) (female) - Cloud Wood
In a sunny spot, before I got to the entrance, I photographed a hoverfly. Lindsay gave me a Hoverfly field guide as a Fathers' Day present on Sunday, but I have not yet fully got to grips with it, so please correct me if my ID is wrong!

hoverfly (Helophilus pendulus) (male) - Cloud Wood
From here, I had a quick session at a location near Tonge, but only photographed another couple of hoverflies. I'm not certain about the species of the first, but a little more confident on the ID of the second.

hoverfly (Eristalis sp.) - near Tonge
hoverfly (Sphaerophoria interrupta) (female) - near Tonge
Sunday, 21st June

This was Fathers' Day, and I took a trip over to our daughter's home on the outskirts of Leicester. We had a lovely conversation sitting in chairs at opposite ends of the drive in front of her house. Sadly, I could not stay long as I was a long way from a convenient 'comfort stop' in this rather built-up area of the city. This meant that I had to call in at one of my strategically placed locations on the way home. Fortunately this one had a lake a few hundred metres up the path. I'd been to this lake a couple of weeks earlier in cold windy condition, seen nothing of interest, but felt sure that it should be productive for Odonata.

In spite of a stiff breeze that was building up ahead of a storm it was warm, and as I walked along the path through the long grass, clouds of damselflies were rising up in front of me, mostly tenerals. Just before reaching the lake I saw a dragonfly fly away from the lake and into the trees. I have no idea what it was but it appeared to be dark red in colour.

The thunder started rumbling as I reached the lake, and dark clouds were rolling in quite fast. I did manage to get a shot in poor light of one of a pair of Red-eyed Damselfly that I saw. 

Red-eyed Damselfly (Erythromma najas) (male) - near Cropston
This was one of many Azure Damselfly seen.

Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella) (male) - near Cropston
All other attempts at photographing damselflies (I saw no more dragonflies) failed, mainly due to black clouds killing the light, but I did manage a shot of a butterfly before heading back to the car.

Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) - near Cropston
I got back to the car just in time to avoid the deluge that then accompanied me for most of my journey home.

It had been a week with a difference, but enjoyable, none-the less.


PLEASE NOTE:-

I may be having to take a break from blogging for a while as we are now in a period of turmoil here, and there's no telling what the future might bring. What I do know is that we are scheduled to have three events happenening next week, each one of which is going to take us way out of our comfort zone, considering the Covid situation, and we're expecting to be severely distracted.

1.) They are replacing the gas main network in our area, and on Monday they are going to replace the feed from the main pipe to the meter in our house. Depending on what they find, at best this will entail them coming into our house to turn of the gas, slide a new pipe up the centre of the existing pipe, connect it to the meter, then go into all five of our downstairs rooms (snug, my study, kitchen, dining room, lounge) to check the gas appliances when they turn the gas back on again. At worst, it will entail them digging up our drive, to put the new pipe in, and moving our gas meter from under the stairs to an ouside wall, and running new gas pipes through two of our rooms - this in addition to the 'at best' scenario.

They will then need to do the whole 'turn off', and 'turn on and check the appliances' procedure again after they replace the gas main.

2.) At the weekend we developed a leak in our mains water supply. At first the water company thought it was on 'their side' of the system, but it now turns out that it's on our side. At best this will entail them digging up our drive to get at the leak. At worst, if it is under the property, it probably means digging up the floor in our tiled entrance lobby. Fortunately, it looks as if , other than the possibility of them having to enter the entrance lobby, they won't have to enter the house.

3.) One of our phone lines has developed a fault to the extent that it is virtually impossible to hear the person on the other end of the line. We have an engineer coming on Tuesday. Whether or not he needs to enter the house remains to be seen.


Until the next time, take great care, and stay safe!


20 comments:

  1. Something different, and something very interesting. Impressed by the Orchids Richard.

    Covd-19, now Gas, Water, Phone. Sorry about all that Richard, but that's no consolation to you I'm afraid.

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    1. If the Water team that came on Friday have got it right, and the previous team got it wrong, it looks as if we might have got away with that one, Pete, with the problem now reckoned to be in the road and not under our drive. Not sure when they're coming back, but the Gas team are invading the house early tomorrow (Monday) morning.

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  2. Hi Richard! What a special flower!

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  3. Hi Richard, It is good to see someone elses view of nature. Beautiful flowers. As for the living problems, jolly good luck. Stay safe. Mike.

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    1. Thank you, Mike - I could do with a little less stress in these difficult times! Take good care - - - Richard

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  4. Ah, my erstwhile companion of the Little Owl has morphed into something else entirely! Dragonflies and butterflies were one thing, but orchids have lured you away too! An all-round naturalist you say? And all to the good, of course! Sounds like you may be getting a closer association with construction than you would like, Richard. I hope it all goes well and the disruptions are not too great. Our next challenge, coming up within days, is to replace the aging computer with its old unsupported Windows 7 operating system and go to the dreaded Windows 10. We have everything backed up on an external drive and hope that the transition will go reasonably smoothly, although I fear these things never do! I will make sure we have a bottle of gin in the house for therapeutic comfort!

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    1. I've not totally given up on the Little Owls, David. In fact, Lindsay and I went out for a picnic lunch on Wednesday to celebrate our 48th anniversary - and were in the presence of a Little Owl - might have helped if I'd remembered to put the battery back in the camera!

      Best wishes for your upgrade to Windows 10. My opinion is that it's a huge improvement on Windows 7, but it might take you a while to discover all its benefits - particularly if you've hit the gin in the meantime!

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  5. WOW! yes i can see you have a lot ot contend with next week so good luck with all those things going right. Now that Lizard orchid is AMAZING and it was wonderful that you were able to find it. All your close up photography is stunning. Thanks for the comments you leave. I appreciate every one. Stay safe and have a good week.

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    1. I was given really clear directions as to where to find that Lizard Orchid, Margaret and it must have been getting on for a metre tall, so it was rather easy to find - it's how the first person found it that baffles me!

      Thank you for your kind words. Take great care with that knee of yours, and stay safe - - - Richard

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  6. Fantastic Richard. The Lizard Orchid and the Bee Orchid are beautiful. The butterflies are pretty, the dragonflies are species of all. Thank you.

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    1. Kind words, Bob! Thank you - take great care - - - - Richard

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  7. Hello Richard
    with these orchid beauties i would not move my wife any further, she would only have eyes for the flowers .. but they are also very pretty
    Your construction sites in and around the house bring a lot of hustle and bustle with you, but afterwards everything becomes quiet again and you can turn to your photos, wish you that everything goes well
    Regards Frank

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    1. I would have great difficulty in getting my wife to most of there locations, Frank, because she does not like being in woodlands and she has limited mobility.

      I'm pleased to say that, so far, the construction works are going OK, although we do now have a huge hole in our drive, and we do not have a gas supply to the house until this evening. We are managing somewhat better than I thought we would, and the people doing the work have been very good and helpful.

      Take great care and stay safe - - - Richard

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  8. Hello Richard, some amazing finds you were able to see. Those Orchids are stunning specialy the Lizard Orchid wow what a plant. Each flower is a beauty on it own but the first one is amazing. Your photos are realy most wonderful!! Reading at the and you and Lisey (hope I write her name right) are indeed awaiting difficult times with all that work that is to be done in and around your house. All that in these horrid times with a virus. I do hope it will be done quickly and all will be over soon. Take care.
    Regards,
    Roos

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    1. Thank you, Roos. I'm pleased to say that we are probably half way through the work being done, and so far it has not been as traumatic as we feared, although there have been a few problems. We are hoping that by next week the work will be finished apart from the reparing of the road, pavement, and our drive.

      Do take great care of yourself in these dangerous times. My very best wishes - - - Richard

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  9. Hi Richard,
    it is also very special if you discover a plant that you did not know existed or one that you did not expect to see nearby. Great to encounter this Lizard Orchid and even better that you share it with us.

    I also see beautiful pictures of the thistle, butterflies, insects, damselfly and much more wild orchids. Also very nicely photographed.

    Kind regards, Helma
    Stay safe and healthy.

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    1. Thank you for your visit and your kind words, Helma. Take great care of yourself, and stay safe - - - Richard

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  10. Isn't it a blessing to be able to venture out into Nature and not be single-minded about your purpose (e.g., I'm going "birding")? There is so much to see and experience!

    Richard, thank you so much for continuing to share the beauty YOU see! We have become better for it.

    Orchids! Incredible photographs of superb specimens. Gini is drooling onto the keyboard.

    Your hoverflies are a delight and I love the inclusion of all the insects. Especially noteworthy for me are the Meadow Brown and its subtle beauty and the gorgeous Tortoiseshell. I have had some difficulty in locating very many damselflies so yours have made me feel much better.

    Ugh! Malfunctioning utilities are enough to drive one insane! We hope your repairs proceed quickly so life can return to "normal" until Covid is done with us and life can return to the previous "normal". Well, now it's getting confusing.

    All is well here. Very hot, very humid. As advertised. Take good care you two!

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    1. This lockdown situation has definitely broadened my horizons, Wally, although I have always had a passing interest in the natural world. I think that, if ever this virus situation is conquered, I will retain many of the benefits I've acquired in the recent months.

      The good news is that the telephone and water are now fixed, although we do have a large hole in our drive, and the gas should be back on by this evening, although it will be some weeks before their holes are filled. It has not been as bad as we feared.

      It was cold enough here on Monday that we had to turn the heating back on again. It's not as cold today, but still rather cool for the time of year and, yes, it's raining as I write this!

      My very best wishes to you and Gini. Our local city, Leicester, is the first UK city to be put back into lockdown with 3 times the Corona infection rate of it's nearest 'competitor', and we hear that Florida is going through similar troubles, so take great care and stay safe - - - Richard

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Please Note: Due to Blogger removing the option for comments from "Registered Users - includes OpenID" option in Blogger settings, and replacing it with the option for registered Google users only. I was concerned that this option might restrict some 'genuine' users from commenting. However, I am now getting around 10 'anonymous' comments per day, and this is just getting too annoying. I am, therefore, applying the 'User with Google Accouns' restriction. If this prevents you from commenting, please let me know by email to rick.pegler@btinternet.com - please note that this is not my regular email address, which remains unchanged from the original.