I’ve just returned from a few days photography in Wiltshire/Dorset where I’ve been photographing firecrest, great bustard and Dartford warbler and, as the spring weather continued, today I went over to Brockadale to see what spring flowers were on offer. The cowslips are not yet in bloom and the highland cattle seem to be making a bit of a mess of the meadow so I’m not sure how well the cowslips will do this year. The wood anemone on the hillside are spreading well but deep in the woods, they somehow looked more at home in the dappled spring light.
It was a bright, sunny day with a hint of autumn for our visit to the vale. Corn sowthistle, rough hawksbit, both black and white bryony, creeping buttercup and cross-wort lined the pathway into the vale. Harebells blew gently amongst the rock rose and cat’s ear with self heal, eyebright, milkwort and tormentil still visible. Three species of gentian – common centaury, yellow-wort and autumn gentian were a pleasure to see. The banking was a sea of blue with three species of scabious – field scabious, small scabious and devil’s bit scabious. After much searching we finally came across the elusive autumn lady’s tresses, a very small member of the orchid family.
The ground was very dry underfoot as we headed straight ahead out of the car park onto a well used path bordered by purple loosestrife and great willowherb mingling with the bright yellow of perennial sow-thistle. Gatekeeper and meadow brown butterflies clung to swaying patches of wild carrot amongst the upright hedge parsley. Coming out onto the main path there were still plenty of flowers to see – the ladies bedstraw was coming to an end but common centaury, meadow vetchling, common fleabane, red bartsia and field scabious were still flourishing. Two species of heather, common and cross leaved were thriving in the rough ground and St John’s wort, ribbed melilot, viper’s bugloss, black medick and teasel edged the path as we turned left back onto the main path towards the car park. Broad-leaved helleborine was found in the same vicinity as previous years and along the path speckled wood butterflies were enjoying the bramble as woody nightshade crept upwards through the tufted vetch, next to three common species of willowherb – hoary, broad-leaved and great willowherb.