Thursday, 5 June 2014

Cors Erddreiniog, Anglesey - 5th June 2014

Today I joined Les Colley at Cors Erddreiniog on Anglesey to look at some of the fantastic biodiversity it has to offer, with the main target being Marsh Fritillary, as this is the last population on Anglesey.
Marsh Fritillary - A fantastically fresh individual!
A mating pair - With the sun out, they seemed to only show the underwing when mating, so getting of photo of this was difficult.
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary - One of the freshest and brightest butterflies I've ever seen!
In total, we managed to see about 9 Marsh Frits and just a single Small Pearl-bordered. In addition we had the usual suspects: Wall, Small Heath, Speckled Wood, Small White, Large White, Green-veined White, Peacock, Orange-tip.
red morph female Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly. Really nice to see this. We also had several males too.

In addition to this, a real surprise was a lovely female Keeled Skimmer which I have never previously seen and it wasn't even slightly on my radar for today, so was fantastic to see. I only had my 50mm lens on at the time, so wasn't able to approach to get a photo sadly.

Species list: Keeled Skimmer, Four-spotted Chaser, Broad-bodied Chaser, Hairy Dragonfly, Large Red Damselfly, Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly, Blue-tailed Damselfly, Common Blue Damselfly and Azure Damselfly

I have recently got quite into orchids, so was quite eager to see some of the specialities of the Anglesey fens.

Narrow-leaved Marsh Orchid (above 3) - A species I've wanted to see since Steve Culley visited the site last year, but until this week, has no idea what I was looking for! This proved to be quite distinctive the more I saw it and it was by no means scarce at the site being about the 2nd commonest species. It was interesting to see the variation in colour which could be due to wear, as these were coming to the end of their flowering life. The 'one-sided' nature of the plant was really obvious and the lip had three obvious lobes. A really nice plant.
Early Marsh Orchid - The commonest orchid of the day with the normal 'rose' morph being the most common. This is a really distinctive species with the rose flower with a slightly darker top being obvious from quite some distance. The combination of a thick stalk and the leaves 'hugging' the stalk makes for a very chunky looking orchid, compared to the slender Narrow-leaved.
Dark form of Early Marsh. There was a specific area of wet ground where the really dark form of this plant occured. It was getting onto the darkness of Northern Marsh which was educational to say the least.
White form of Early Marsh. I found just this single Early Marsh that was superbly striking. Great to see three different forms/races/subspecies (?) of the same plant at the same reserve.

Getting into Orchid over the past couple of months, you obviously have a few targets that shine out as being the most-wanted. For me, Fly Orchid was my number one. I think they look superb and I really wanted to see them! I was certainly not disappointed! We eventually found about 15 of these, (I say we...I just couldn't get my eye in and didn't find a single one!) and I was astonished by how hard they were to pick out and how small and delicate they were. Up close they really are a stunning little plant and the stalk is a wonderful apple green colour that is almost fluorescent. They say you should never meet your heroes, but in this case, I'm really glad I did (mind you, it has only been my hero for about 2 weeks!)!

Lesser Butterfly Orchid - A species that I only found out about occurring at the fen yesterday, so was very excited to see this. I think these actually came out as my favourite orchid of the day as they are wonderfully beautiful and they have a lovely glow like a ghost or something. I guess because I spotted the first one, they had me won over straight away! Again, this was really educational seeing them at varying life stages, with some showing no hint of the flower at all, but still made them quite obvious to find. I was expecting these to be really big (similarly to my expectations of the Fly) but the vast majority (we saw about 20) were really small. One was about 25cm tall, which was impressive, but most were closer to 10cm.
Marsh Helleborine - Whilst this was by no means in its full glory, this Marsh Helleborine was one of two that Les pointed out and a species I had never seen before and had no idea they were on the reserve, so was a real bonus. I will have to see them again in a couple of weeks time when they are out in full flower.
Northern Marsh Orchid - I have seen this species before, along with Common Spotted and Heath Spotted which were also both present. It was nice however to compare them with the other marsh orchid species I saw. The above is actually a hybrid Northern Marsh x Common Spotted, but I didn't get a photo of a pure Northern!

A really enjoyable afternoon and I can't thank Les enough for showing me around!

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