A forest triffid
It was one of those days when everything shows up. I haven't walked my favourite circuit from Abbots Well for over a week, and I am leading a picnic walk there tomorrow, so I thought I had better check it out, and see whether there was any wildlife. It was hot and humid, with low, muggy clouds, and yesterday's rain was still puddled across the path. As I walked under the eaves of Hasley wood, I scanned the opposite ridge for deer, but nothing. Then I caught a glimpse of a single fallow buck further down in the bog at Latchmore, so at least they were about. I stopped to watch a meadow pipit hunting insects in the heather, and looked up to see another distant deer - but this one was ushering a small, nervous brown bundle, running beneath her feet - a hind with a young fawn. On into the wood, where the mistle thrush was churring away, and siskins chattered in the pine tops. A female redstart shouted at me for getting close to a totally hidden offspring, so I went down to the side of the stream where last week I had photographed a Beautiful Demoiselle, the most glorious vivid, irridescent blue damselfly. It was still there, on virtually the same bracken frond. On route I had smelt something awful, and soon tracked down the stinkhorn mushroom which was sending out wafts of dead meat smell to attract the flies. As I walked up onto Hampton Ridge, I caught sight of another fallow hind and fawn, the mother was a pale form, her summer spots barely darker than mustard, against a white background. She quickly turned tail and led the young one into deep cover, and when I next looked another fallow hind had appeared, but this one almost ink black. There is a great variation in the colours of the fallow deer, and I often see white deer, but the dark, melanistic ones are rarer. Up on the Ridge I was just looking at the remains of the World War 2 bombing range, when I had a fly past from a Small Blue and Small Heath butterfly. I couldn't leave the heathland without getting a close up look at the sundew growing beside a swollen puddle leaching out of a mire. They are really tiny, but an awesome looking plant, which traps and digests small flies and insects. And at least I know that isn't going to hide when I bring the Picnic guests this way tomorrow!