Monday, 26 May 2008

Indiana Dave and Raiders of the Lost Monkey 26th May 2008.

man oh man

aye up Monkey!

"I'm Lady you know"

Field of Monkeys

Setting off around 6.45am from home, myself, Sean and Stan (Fellow Orchid Hunters) arrived in Kent just after 9.30am to the sight of constant rain and very strong winds, maybe not a good omen to search for orchids.
Checking out the first site of the day for the distinctive Fly Orchid, we soon realised that maybe climbing down a very steep path in not great weather conditions, was probably not the best idea, and I think even Indiana Jones would have had second thoughts!
So we decided to head to Chatham, for our next site and hopefully a nice cooked breakfast.
Checking out Asda and Tesco in Chatham, to our amazement none of these superstore had a cafe!
Driving round Chatham, we finally found a greasy spoon cafe just around the corner from the next orchid site.
After finishing breakfast, we moved on to the next site at Darland Bank NR. The site it self was situated right next to a suburban housing estate, and opens out into classical meadow land habitat. The target here was Man Orchid, as in the past the site has had up to 10,000 of these corking orchids.
Walking on to the hillside, after a couple of minutes searching we started to find large groups of Man Orchids in the surrounding grassland.
Over the next hour or so we took numerous photos of the Man Orchids and to improve the day it stopped raining and the wind dropped.
I made a conservative count of the orchids, and we must have seen at least 500+ on the hillside.
Moving on from Darland Bank, our next stop was a site near Faversham, with my main target of the day, the rare Monkey Orchid.
This site was right next to the road, but as Sean and Stan said the security for this site was quite shocking in electric sense!!
Walking round the enclosure we walked up a small incline, and then into a small clearing, where a small group of Monkey and Lady Orchids were situated.
As you can imagine I took a number of photos of these exquisite orchids.
Moving into the enclosure, we then counted another ten Monkey and Lady Orchids and found at least another three Man Orchids.
Leaving this site we progress to another orchid site a few miles away near Barham village.
This site was totally different to the previous ones, as it was situated in a large wood.
After leaving the car, almost straight away we started to view orchids in the surrounding woodland.
Orchids noted included Common Twayblade (1000+), Lady Orchid (100+), Fly Orchid (10+), Common Spotted Orchid (5+), and a single Bird's Nest Orchid and White Helleborine.
At around this time, something happened to my camera, as the camera could not focus, and the telephoto lens would not work, bloody typical!!
The next site we visited was the well known Park Gate Down NR, and home to over 200+ Monkey Orchids. As we walk through the entrance gate most of the Monkey Orchids were situated on the grassland to our right.
Although my camera was playing up I did take a few shots of the groups of Monkeys Orchids.
Other Orchids we noted at this site included Common Twayblade (500+), Pyramidal Orchid (5+ coming into flower), Early Purple Orchid (20+), Fly Orchid (2), a single Fragrant Orchid coming into flower and at least 10+ Common Spotted Orchids.
Moving on from this site, the next site we checked was Wye Down NNR, to look for Late Spider Orchid.
Arriving at this site, we soon found at least ten of these Orchids coming into flower on the steep hillside.
I took a few record shots of the Orchids,and then checked the site to see if any Bee Orchids were emerging. After a good scout around of the site we couldn't find any Bee Orchids, but it was two weeks early for them to usually appear so I wasn't too disappointed on not finding any Bee Orchids.
As it was early evening by now,we checked one more site for Orchids. However this site was strangely devoid of any orchids (maybe something to do with the local rabbit population?),so we decided to make our way home.
In total it was a great day out, I saw five new Orchid species for my British list in the shape of Monkey, Lady, Bird's Nest, White Helleborine and Late Spider Orchid.
I would also like to thank Sean for doing the driving, and Jane at TomTom for her great directions!
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