Orchids: May is peak season for many orchid species and only June will have more species flowering at once. Look out for Violet Limodores on the forest fringes, Tongue Orchids in damp Brenne pasture, Lady Orchids in the dappled shade and on east facing banks, Common Spotted Orchids by ditches in the pine forests and Besom Heath scrub - and many more. The orchid season has been delayed by 2 - 3 weeks compared to last year, and is likely to last longer because of cooler wetter conditions. Last year everything flowered and finished very early and quickly. I spotted my first Lady Orchid for this season only yesterday, and even the Early Purples have hardly hit their peak. Last year the Ladies came out on the same date as the Early Purples and the more precocious of the Early Spider Orchids.
It was so cold, wet and windy in April that, as feared, I didn't get a chance to do my monthly butterfly survey. Even though we still need rain, after three years in a row of insufficient rain over the winter (2011 and 2012), spring (2011) and/or the summer (2010), let's hope we get some calm sunny days in May. However, the long term forecast is for this cool wet weather to continue throughout this month too. Statistically, May is the wettest month on average in the Claise Valley, but the rain is normally accompagnied by some days of sunshine and temperatures in the low 20s.