Storks, Spoonbills, Orchids and Oversley Wood

Friday 15th June - Friday 6th July 2018
White Stork, Zwin Nature Park, Belgium
I'll start off with some photos of White Storks taken on my recent holiday in Belgium and the Netherlands. Based in Bruges, we encountered Storks nesting near the city in the pretty small town of Damme, and at Zwin Nature Park in Belgium, and also over the border in the dutch town of Sluis. Sluis is a picturesque town, and the Storks we saw here were clearly very used to humans.

White Stork, Sluis, Netherlands

Zwin

Nest with young, Zwin

Stork nest in Damme

This nest in Damme was on the historic St John's Hospital Museum, currently being renovated
I didn't see a Spoonbill during the whole of 2017, and hadn't seen one in 2018 until arriving at Zwin Nature Park and seeing one in flight over the centre. This was probably one of two I saw together from the main hide. This is a fantastic reserve with great facilities. Situated in the north-east corner of Belgium, just west of the dutch border, this is a large wetland habitat providing a refuge for large numbers of wintering birds and breeding birds in the summer. Anyway, the day after arriving back from Belgium, I saw two more Spoonbills at WWT Slimbridge.
Spoonbill, WWT Slimbridge
On returning from Slimbridge I had one of my most incredible garden sightings, that of a really fresh White-letter Hairstreak which floated down and landed for several minutes. It was like a dream and left me wondering where it had come from and wanting to search locally for Elms.
White-letter Hairstreak, Quedgeley (garden)

The following weekend on 1st July I visited Kenfig near Bridgend in Wales and the Fen Orchids and Marsh Helleborines were soon located in the dune slacks. A few dense-flowered rich purple spikes of Marsh Fragrant Orchid were looking good. The Fen Orchids were a bit past their best, and it started raining (a rare experience this summer), which curtailed further exploration and so a return visit next year is in order.
Fen Orchid, Kenfig

Fen Orchid, Kenfig

Marsh Helleborine, Kenfig


Marsh Helleborine, Kenfig

Marsh Fragrant Orchid, Kenfig
I noticed this striking pink female form of Meadow Grasshopper at Kenfig on the way to the Orchids

And then on Friday 6th July, I went for an early start before things got too hot, at Oversley Wood, Warwickshire. This is now essentially an annual pilgrimage which always offers the hope of sightings of Purple Emperor, of which I saw one, albeit in flight only. I always love seeing White Admirals but it was the Hairstreaks that were the real stars. I've never seen so many Purple Hairstreaks coming down low to rest, at least 40-50 and they were still giving good views when I left early afternoon. Six White-letter Hairstreaks were similarly obliging, and provided more photo opportunities.
Purple Hairstreak, Oversley Wood


Male Purple Hairstreak, Oversley Wood

Female Purple Hairstreak, Oversley Wood

Purple Hairstreak, Oversley Wood

Male and female Purple Hairstreaks, Oversley Wood
White-letter Hairstreak, Oversley Wood


Silver-washed Fritillary, Oversley Wood

Silver-washed Fritillary, Oversley Wood

White Admiral, Oversley Wood
The hoverfly Cheilosia illustrata, Oversley Wood

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