During the School half-term Nina, Jack and Josh came down from Clitheroe for a few days. Pete was away taking a group round China, hard life isn't it, and we had a couple of days trying to see as many of the orchids that wereout in Kent as possible. We managed a creditable 14 species, which was pretty good going.
At one site there was an unusual Southern Marsh Orchid, Var. junialis known as "Leopard marsh Orchid". At the time the leaves were visibly very different but the flower was only just beginning to open. Today it was fully out and a very stunning orchid it is.
At one time this variety was thought to be a variation of a hybrid between Southern Marsh and Common Spotted Orchids, but the fact that they were found in colonies with no Common Spotted suggested otherwise. The fact that it is a variety of Southern Marsh Orchid is supported by genetic evidence.
While I was photographing the Orchids a Common Whitethroat accompanied me with its scratchy song. Although they have never fully recovered their numbers from the great population crash of 1968/9 they are very much more numerous than for many years in the later part of last century.
It is always worth looking carefully from the Ancient Highway form Grey Partridges. The meadows here are the best I know for watching this beautiful native species feeding out in the open.
I hadn't seen the Little Owl perched on the old barn opposite the Chequers for a while, but it was sitting in the sunshine today.