Orchids, Dragonflies and Flesh-eating plants

Tuesday and Steve and I went west to the heathlands built on the pebble-beds.  In the main quick-draining sandy heath, some gullies from heavy rains eroding through the pebble-beds.  One mini-canyon 30 feet deep, and dry at the moment.  In some places thin clay layers have allowed marshy plants to dominate, encouraged by a build-up of peaty black stuff.  Here were marsh orchids and cotton grass.

Heath or marsh orchid (?) - on wetter ground anyway

Heath or marsh orchid (?) – on wetter ground anyway

Perhaps the common spotted orchid, beside a track on a drier part of the heath

Perhaps the common spotted orchid, beside a track on a drier part of the heath

Also a pond being guarded by several dragonflies.  One short bodied darter – Lingulella quadrimaculata I think – seemed keen to chase away all comers, especially if they seemed intent on laying eggs into the water.  A little later we saw the same fly hovering close by a female as she laid her eggs into the pond.  I guess he was defending the pond for his own offspring.

Pond on Harpford Common.

Pond on Harpford Common.

Lingulella quadrimaculata at rest

Lingulella quadrimaculata at rest

Steve found an empty nymph case from a dragonfly – ugly beasts, not elegant like the flying phase.

Empty dragonfly nymph case - probably one of the bigger hawker types.

Empty dragonfly nymph case – probably one of the bigger hawker types.  They spend more years underwater than flying above it.

Beside the pond we found small sundews.  Tiny reddish plants whose sticky leaves are adapted to catch insects and absorb the nutrients as their prey decays.

Sundew with its prey, a small mayfly or similar.

Sundew with its prey, a small cranefly or similar.

We spent nearly an hour at the pond before heading north to a road, and east back towards our cottage.  The western slopes of the Otter valley are covered with apple orchards, and some single rows of a poplar acting as windbreaks.

Poplar windbreak

Poplar windbreak

Just before a steep descent to the wide flat valley floor we got this view of Harpford village across the valley.

Apple trees in the foreground and Harpford church in the distance

Apple trees in the foreground and Harpford church in the distance

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