Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Bee Orchids...

2020 has been exceptional for many reasons, Covid-19 has disrupted lives around the planet, in the UK we have experienced the warmest, driest May on record and (now that we can travel locally) I've seen more Bee Orchids, Ophrys apifera, than ever before.

The conditions this spring seem to have been ideal for many orchid species - ironic considering we haven't been able to travel to see them for the first time ever! However, now that lockdown has eased slightly, my son and I have returned to doing his preferred walk in Seaton and it was on one of these walks a couple of weeks ago that I noticed a large colony of Bee Orchids in pristine condition. The Ophrys family are probably my favourite of the British orchids, they are very distinct, attractive plants and the Bee is certainly one of the most exotic looking.

One of around 30 flower spikes

I went back again to make a short video with Nigel.

Broad-leaved Everlasting Pea
also adding a splash of colour.

Stinking Iris - I usually find them when they're
past their best so nice to see it in flower.

Sunday, 7 June 2020


Starlings are a great group of birds. Generally either loved (for their cheeky character, quirky manners and colourful plumage  or ignored (pests, noisy, too common), I'm certainly in the former group. An adult European Starling in breeding plumage is one of our most attractive birds IMO.

In recent days we've seen an influx of scarce Rosy Starlings from Eastern Europe and Asia, they've been popping up in flocks of regular starlings up and down the country. Yesterday a pair were found in Seaton, Devon about 12 miles away from here. When I heard the news I turned and looked out of the window to see a small group of half-a-dozen starlings foraging in the field behind our house. My heart jumped as a pale bird moved randomly among them - bloody hell! Could it be a Rosy Starling here too?  I frantically ran for my camera and bins and after a few tense seconds realised that it was in fact a leucistic European Starling! An individual that was completely snow white (but with a dark iris, so not albino). My short-lived disappointment (at it not being a Rosy) was soon replaced with awe as this stunning little bird weaved in and out of the tussocks and crept ever closer. Later in the day it appeared on the wires outside the house and I was able to get decent images of it.

Fast forward to Sunday (today). After hearing the news that the Rosy Starlings were 'showing well' at Seaton again this morning, I had to go and see them. They are stunning birds and being so close to home, it would have been amiss not to pay a visit. Nigel couldn't resist going for this one either and joined me there.

On arrival a few birders were wandering around, scanning the rooftops and it was apparent the birds were not showing. An older couple told me they had been there 45 minutes and not seen it. As I said 'that's a shame' I glanced up at a chimney pot and said, there it is! 

Rosy Starling...punk hair!

Rosy Starling, male singing its heart out!

This could grace my chimney any day.

The female never materialised but the male made up for it in showiness, what a fantastic bird and my best views for sure.


 A stroll along the under cliff afterwards produced in excess of 20 spikes of Bee Orchid, the perfect way to round-off a great morning.

Bee Orchid - a personal favourite.

Fingers crossed that lockdown will cease (or at least be relaxed) soon so that we can travel further and get more active.