Sunday, 27 May 2018
2,000 Bird's-nests plus Hawfinch withdrawals
On the steep, southern slopes of Mickleham Downs you will find predominantly beech woodland, mixed with stands of yew, box and, in places, larch. Here be Bird's-nest Orchids. There are known discreet colonies to seek out and, no doubt, many undiscovered groups are also present on the difficult to access sections. For the best experience head to Cockshott Wood - just above the small car park there is a large colony which is loosely scattered over an area the size of a football pitch. I spent some time last Wednesday afternoon trying to come up with a meaningful count and reached the conclusion that there were no fewer than 2,000 spikes present. They are some sight.
From here you can look south and see the elevated woodland at Juniper Top, Ashurst Rough and - most importantly - Bramblehall Wood. Only a few weeks ago they were home to the largest flock of Hawfinches to be recorded in Britain. I did feel a pang of regret that they are no longer around having spent many happy hours watching them over the winter, the memories of which will long live with me. I listened intently for any tell-tale signs of a few still being present, but no - I do believe that they have all gone. I doubt that I will see such sights again.