Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Bramshill and Riseley

Bramshill walks

Walks around the Bramshill plantation.

Bramshill Orchids 2010
Bramshill and Riseley
Bramshill 2012
Bramshill 2013
Bramshill and Hazeley Heath 2014
Bramshill 2015

A year ago I made a successful search for orchids at Bramshill Plantation, and having missed out on a bumper crop of orchids at the weekend I decided to make a return visit to Bramshill. Here is a Google Map of the walk:

View Bramshill - Riseley in a larger map

I tried to find the Bee Orchids (Ophyrs apifera) at the spot where I found them last time, but before reaching them I came across a whole lot (over 60 or so flower spikes) just by a track.

bee prchid,Ophyrs apifera

bee prchid,Ophyrs apifera

I saw quite a butterflies and some moths, many failed to stay still long enough. This rather strange fellow is a Burnet Companion Moth (Euclidia glyphica) apparently so called because you often see it with Burnet moths. It is one of the more common day flying moths.

Burnet Campanion Moth,Euclidia glyphica

One problem with Bramshill Common is that is very large and flat and the Forestry Commission conifers are split up into lots of blocks by very similar rectilinear tracks - so it is very easy to get lost. Now more orchids, there are quite a few that look like the Common Spotted (Dactylorhiza fuchsii), some hybridise so it is more than likely that my identifications are suspect. I think these are the common ones.

heath spotted ochid,Dactylorhiza maculata

And may be Heath Spotted (Dactylorhiza maculata), with the less distinct lobe and larger lobes.

heath spotted ochid,Dactylorhiza maculata

There were lots of daisies in flower, I caught one with two beetles aboard, I think one is Rutpela maculata a longhorn beetle.

musk beetle,Rutpela maculata

I then spotted one or two of my second favourite type of orchid the Pyramidal Orchid (Anacamptis pyramdalis), the shape and plainness of petals is appealing.

Pyramidal Orchid,Anacamptis pyramdalis

I wonder if this single 'pea' like flower is a grass vetchling (Lathyrus nissolia).

grass vetchling,Lathyrus nissolia

The common spotted orchid was to be found in quite a few areas.

Common Spotted,Dactylorhiza fuchsii

Most of the orchids are close to the artificial ponds in the conifer plantation.


An appealing flower at this time of year is Common Centaury (Centarium Erythraea).

Common Centaury,Centarium Erythraea

I then left the plantation to explore the area to the north-east. Close to Bramshill is the confluence of the Whitewater River and the Blackwater River (although stream would be more accurate). Together they do not form ‘Greywater’ but ‘Broadwater’. Apparently the names comes from the colour of the water, the Blackwater rises in peaty soils while the Whitewater in chalk. I am sure I read that the confluence can look interesting, but it didn't today!


Along the hedgerow I saw a Red Admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta) with its wings closed revealing intricate patterning on the under-wing.

Red Admiral butterfly,Vanessa atalanta

The roadside then had an unusual dire warning, I was tempted to ring the bell and inform them that they probably meant ‘venomous’ rather than ‘poisonous’, as the risk of eating them is probably a low risk.

Poisonous snakes

A hedge had a patch of blackberries in flower with a mass of butterflies (dozens) and bees feeding on the nectar. Most were meadow browns (Maniola jurtina).

meadow brown,Maniola jurtina

Also, hiding on the distant side of the hedge was my first painted lady of the year (Vanessa cardui).

painted lady,Vanessa cardui

With wings closed it still gives a colourful display.

painted lady,Vanessa cardui

The area around Riseley is fairly flat. Many of the buildings are grand ‘commuter’ pads. I only found one building in need of conversion.


The grass verges were full of verdant foliage, only angelica had suffered noticeably from lack of rain. Some other less common plants included crosswort (Cruciata laevipes), although fairly common in patches elsewhere .

crosswort,Cruciata laevipes

I liked the pattern of seeds in this umbelifer, unfortunately my books do not show seed heads like this, so I can't be sure which one.


I followed the Blackwater 'river' back from Swallowfield to Bramshill, where I managed to find most of the orchid locations I had discovered last year. But, first I managed to snap this Large Skipper (Ochlodes faunus) on bracken.

Large Skipper,Ochlodes faunus

Now for more orchids, with dubious identifications. First, is this Common Spotted orchid again?

Common Spotted,Dactylorhiza fuchsii

And (Heath Spotted?). These were two feet high again this year, looking magnificent.

heath spotted ochid,Dactylorhiza maculata

I would love this to be Narrow leaved Marsh Orchid, but I doubt it. Probably Southern Marsh Orchid.

Narrow Leaved Marsh orchid

A non-orchid for a change to break the sequence, This is Yellow or Dotted Lousestrife (Lysimachia punctata) also found in gardens.

Dotted Lousestrife,Lysimachia punctata

In the woods I managed to catch this imperious looking damselfly, well probably a Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens).

Banded Demoiselle,Calopteryx splendens

As this plant was in water I would presume Marsh Orchid is a fair bet.

Marsh orchid

This was the location, you can see a host of orchids on the inaccessible far bank.


Finally to end where I began, with a bee orchid.

bee prchid,Ophyrs apifera

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