I was intending on visiting the steep slopes of Box Hill for a bit of orchid action, but day-dreaming at the steering-wheel found me way past where I needed to turn off, and, finding myself close to Banstead Woods, decided to accept that fate had sent me there.
The recent rains had turned the western outer footpath into an assault course of mud, nettle and bramble, not helped by my decision to wear shorts. After collecting sting-rash and scratches across my legs, I found myself in an area where several plants of Violet Helleborine can usually be found - this morning I managed just the one, and it was some way off from flowering:
Across to Park Downs and the 'orchid fields'. Orchid numbers are much reduced from last year, maybe due to the height of the grass. This year it is knee-to-waist high:
Pyramidals are in the low hundreds, Bees possibly 30+, nowhere near the heights of 2015. A small patch of Fox and Cubs (below) were welcome, and, as the sun started to break through the early cloud, butterflies started to take to the wing - mostly Meadow Brown and Marbled White, but also my first Silver-washed Fritillary of the summer.
Back along the valley at Chipstead Bottom, and the butterfly numbers really picked up. although it was another plant that stole the show, with the tallest, healthiest White Mullein (below) that I have yet seen. It was further along and higher up the slope than the others that I have previously recorded here - it was the only one present.
In other news: The BOU have seen it fit to accept the Hythe Chinese Pond Heron into Category A of the British list. It seems like a good excuse to exhume this popular post.