We had an absolutely superb day on the reserve today, with glorious weather and a slightly chill wind. A few of the group went to continue cutting the taller scrub at the bottom of slope 3, while the rest of us divided into 2 groups and continued the orchid mapping.
Wildlife was abundant, with Brimstones, Peakcocks, Small Tortoishells & Orange Tip butterflies in the sheltered places. The first Gymnocheta viridis, a Spring-flying parasite fly, were seen sitting on fence posts and Osmia bicolor solitary bees were buzzing over the slope with their much larger bumblebee cousins.
The mapping was pretty successful but the closer you get to the end of the mapping the harder it becomes because you are trying to find all the difficult plants (ones that need tapes) or confirming missing plants, which requires longer searching or tape measurements. We closed the day on 524 plants, just 40 short of last year’s record of 564, with a good 4-5 squares still to finish. The Lady x Monkey hybrids look like they have spread a little further afield (a few seedlings were found over the fence, near the wood edge) and the clumps seem denser this year. So dense in places that we will have to produce special maps to help us distinguish each plant.
The scrub cutting party also did very well and reduced the height in a number of places, letting more light in but without reducing available cover and sheltering habitats.