The orchids are out but unfortunately this year we have nowhere near as many as we’d normally get. We saw our first common spotted orchid this week by the boardwalk in the Millennium Country Park, but by now there would normally be hundreds of them all over the place. The bee orchid is also doing quite badly (despite being the county flower of Bedfordshire since 2002) - which we assume is due to the dry weather. This flower mimics the look of a bee to attract pollination but is actually self-pollinating in the UK as we don’t have the right species of bee! You’ll also see the distinctive pyramidal orchid out and about (pictured below).

Bee orchid, common spotted orchid and pyramidal orchid

Bee orchid, common spotted orchid and pyramidal orchid

There is a lot of meadow and grass vetchling about on grassland and we have some beautiful waterlilies out on the pond at Rectory Wood. They can spread up to 1.5 metres across, and 1.5 metres down so they can take up quite a bit of space!

Grass vetchling (credit to Michelle Newstead), meadow vetchling and waterlillies

Grass vetchling (credit to Michelle Newstead), meadow vetchling and waterlillies

Insects and animals

You can see an amazing shot of a large red damselfly in our header photo (above) - they avoid fast flowing water and love wetlands so the Millennium Country Park is ideal. You might also see the azure damselfly around the edge of bodies of water or streams - it’s hard to miss them with their striking colour but they are easily mistaken for the common blue damselfly so if you get a photo and aren’t sure, we’re happy to ID it for you.

The frogs are out - if you have any in your garden, or want to encourage them next year then make sure your pond is frog-friendly. Log piles give them places to shelter in the damp; a gradual slope out of your pond will help young amphibians leave the water once they’re developed and plants around the pond gives them cover from birds and other predators. A rock or log in the middle of the water gives them somewhere to rest and breathe and grass growing over the pond edge will even help encourage plants which newts, potentially, will lay their eggs on. Obviously - don’t put fish into ponds that you want frogs in!

Common frog and azure damselfly (credit to Martin Rogers)

Common frog and azure damselfly 

Our photo of this large skipper is a bit far off but you’ll normally see them in sunny places, on long grasses and tall shrubs or feeding on bramble.

If you’re already looking around the edge of a water body then you might see four spotted chaser dragonflies - they look similar to other chasers but if you can see four spots on the wings, you’ll know it’s the right one!

We talked a little bit about the groundhopper last week, but in this week’s photo you can see the pronotum really clearly - the plate like structure which covers their body. They’re very similar to grasshoppers, but their abdomens are also covered by their pronotum. They’re good swimmers, so they live near ponds, feeding on moss and algae.

Large skipper, four spotted chaser (credit to Martin Rogers) and groundhopper

Large skipper, four spotted chaser and groundhopper


Our rangers saw a tan coloured crow at Rectory Wood this week (no photo, sadly) so look out for it!

Our Egyptian geese have been getting on well - 4 of their young are still with us, so this is a relative success story!

This week, we’ve seen a buzzard circling around the Millennium Country Park which is a very good sign. They haven’t been breeding here this year (that we know of) but they first bred on site about 6 years ago, after only returning to Bedfordshire about 30 years ago. The circling might mean they’re nesting nearby and we just haven’t seen them yet, so fingers crossed! We also have some old footage of young buzzards in a nest, from the Millennium Country Park.

The sand martin wall is well in use (when there aren’t idiots totally ignoring the signs and sitting in front of it) - here you can see them making use of the holes:

Finally, we have a bit of a swift update. They were seen screaming (being territorial) around Lakeview, fairly low down, so it’s likely that we have another nesting site! Make sure you download the RSPB Swiftmapper app and let them know if you ever see a swift anywhere in the UK.

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All bird videos credit to Bob Hook