Last Saturday, with Dungeness stuck in a nagging, cool, NNE wind, the observatory faithful abandoned ship mid-afternoon and went into the narrow green lanes of east Kent in search of orchids. With Gill H at the wheel, Dave W with the map and David C about to be assaulted by things with leaves (rather than feathers), our first stop was Park Gate Down, home to the Monkey Orchid. Would they be out yet?
The answer was a firm "No". This was the most forward of the lot, and there were only a dozen to choose from. Some compensation was on offer with over 1,000 Early Purple Orchids at their best, with two of them being pure white in flower. David C started to fidget so went off and located a Marsh Tit.
Next stop was the marvellously meandering reserve at Yockletts. By now the late afternoon was turning into a calm, bright evening. The scene was set and the orchids put on a fine show.
First up were at least 50 Fly Orchids, all in good flower. This diminutive plant is a favourite of mine, not as decadent as most orchids, happy to hide in the darker parts of the woods, almost apologetic. But when you look closely at the flower... they are as good as any of the others I think.
Talking of decadence, the first of 75+ Lady Orchids came into view, beacons of white and raspberry on the dappled woodland floor. Orchid royalty, maybe the true queen. We lingered awhile, happy to take photographs, to sit and drink in the scene before us. David C was itching to use his binoculars, but had to make do with a calling Tawny Owl and another Marsh Tit. I hadn't completely lost the ability to think about birds and located a purring Turtle Dove. With the crystal clear evening light, the orchids and the dove's special sound, so redolent of summer, it was an effort to tear ourselves away from here and head back to the shingle.