I took a great many pictures on the outing and really struggled to choose just a few highlights for this blog post. Almost everything I photographed was another highlight! Adding to our enjoyment of the day was the warm sunny weather -- a real rarity so far this year.
The object of our visit, the lovely Red Helleborine. It was growing everywhere, and many of the flower stems were considerably taller than I had seen before.Beautiful Demoiselles Calopteryx virgo were exhibiting some interesting courtship behaviour on vegetation over a small stream. The green and bronze female was wing flicking and 'tail-lighting' (raising her tail so the pale underneath was visible). If you see a male demoiselle doing this he is signaling aggressive defence of a territory. Presumably it means something quite different if done by a female, as this male persisted in his approach, eventually landing on her and grasping her behind the eyes as a prelude to mating. If the female had been reluctant to mate she would not have been hanging around in the male's territory anyway. There were about 4 males and the same number of females in just a few square metres. These small streams are very important for the Beautiful Demoiselles, which are pickier about where they will breed than the more common Banded Demoiselles C. splendens. The Beautifuls like shaded, colder, more aerated faster flowing water over a clean gravelly or sandy bed.
The striking chlorophyll free root parasite Ivy Broomrape Orobanche hederae was sending spearheads of flowers up from the ground in large numbers.
this one in our orchard. These hypochromatic individuals have a mutation which means they lack (or are very low in) all except a yellow pigment. There were at least two of these in the grass at Panzoult. Bee Orchids are very prone to mutations, which I presume is a by-product of the fact that they frequently self-pollinate rather than rely on insect cross-pollination services.