Wildlife diary in June 2017
6th June: Look out for orchids... and beetles
In the last few days orchids have been appearing in profusion alongside many of the walking tracks in Fineshade. These are the well-named Common Spotted Orchids, the second of Fineshade's orchid species to appear. Back in April there were Early Purples mixed with the Bluebells in the Ancient Woodland areas but they have faded now to be replaced in the more grassy places by the Common Spotteds. These range in colour from pinky-white to deep purple and have dark oval shaped spots on their leaves. It is well worth getting really close to appreciate a bee's-eye view of the closely-packed florets.
In the picture on the left it's not a bee but a beetle that is approaching the orchids. Again, a close view showed that this was a Red-headed Cardinal Beetle. These are carnivores and feed on other smaller insects attracted by the flowers.
You can find here six of the orchid family that were recorded in Fineshade in 2015. In addition to those already mentioned there were Greater Butterfly Orchid, Bee Orchid, Pyramid Orchid and Twayblade. If you should come across any of these four we'd be delighted to know. A picture and, especially an accurate grid reference would be most useful.
Another one to look out for is the strange Bird's-nest Orchid which, according to the Northants Rare Plant Register, was also recorded here before 1970. And finally it would be great to find a Fly Orchid with its black flowers resembling little flies. There are no known records in Fineshade though it occurs not far away in Wakerley Spinney. It is one of the threatened species that the forthcoming Back from the Brink project will be targetting.
8th June: Look out for Bee Orchids
Following the Common Spotteds, Bee Orchids are beginning to emerge. The lorry bays in Fineshade Wood can be good places to see these exotic flowers in bloom: they seem to thrive on the poor soil, and/or perhaps their seeds were originally imported along with the roadstone laid to create the bays.
Today, in the rain, there were at least 14 of the flowering spikes beginning to appear in one of the bays. (The one near where the Duddington-Kingscliffe bridleway crosses the main vehicle track through Fineshade.) Please tread very carefully if you go to have a look.
The flower goes to great efforts to attract male bees, having evolved with bee-like colouring and a hairy bottom petal. It even emits the scent of a female bee. Apparently this is all about aiding pollination of the flower but, in Britain at least, it's not really necessary as they self pollinate.
13th June: Rediscovery of a significant moth
It's hard to believe that this, the Concolorous, is probably Northamptonshire's most significant moth. It is small - hardly any bigger than your littlest finger nail. It is dull coloured, with scarcely any clear markings - the name Concolorous means uniformly coloured. And yet there was a small celebration in Fineshade and further afield when this little creature was found in a moth trap at Top Lodge last weekend.
The Concolorous has Red Data Book designation and is one of the target threatened species for the Back from the Brink (Rockingham Forest) Project. We'd never seen one before, so we needed to check the books carefully to make sure this really was a Concolorous. We also needed expert confirmation, so photos were sent to the county recorder, Mark Hammond, and the moth itself was taken on a trip to a nearby village so that it could be examined by local moth expert, Ron Follows. (It was later returned and released back in Fineshade.) Everyone agreed that this was indeed the Concolorous.
We are really grateful to Mark Hammond who has provided details of the moth's distribution and its history in Northamptonshire and here in Fineshade.
A number of visually more impressive moths have been found in the moth trap in recent weeks and some of these are shown below.
Female Ghost Moth -males are white
Scorched Wing looking like a dead leaf
Four huge Poplar Hawk-moths
Small Phoenix - exquisitely marked