Sunday, July 12, 2015

Fermyn and Fen

Having worked up quite the sweat at 5 a side football in 26 degrees and blazing sun on Friday I was about to pop in the bath but decided that a decent layer of residual sweated salts may be just the ticket to encourage a closer visit from HIM during Saturdays trip to Fermyn.  We did get buzzed by His Majesty quite energetically but Mark's, undoubtedly well laundered, trousers proved to be the main attraction.

We had lots of opportunity to drink in the magic with plenty of groundings and lots of lower level sallow searching towards midday, particularly on the western edge of Lady Wood.  One took on a low pioneering flight out into the middle of the meadows and looked like he was going to keep going and then thought better of it looping a return back to the homelands of the wood where he headed straight to the canopy. The clouds drew in from midday, although with plenty of warmth activity was still apparent. 

The day was not through though and we headed back to our own homelands on the Fen where we have now gone purple.  The cloud had broken again by 1pm as we walked through the remnant idyll of Woodwalton Fen, Cambridgeshire to a stand of Oaks that shade the Rothschild Bungalow.  This building nestled within the trees was built in 1910 by Charles Rothschild who created the UK's first nature reserve in 1899 when he bought a chunk of Wicken Fen which he later donated to The National Trust.  Rothschild purchased Woodwalton Fen also and built his bungalow on stilts to prevent the dampness of the Fen from soaking the building into it's sodden peatiness. He used it as a base for his field studies and excursions on the Fen and I'm sure he'd be over the moon to know that it now attracts His Imperial Majesty down from the high boughs to seek salts from it's steps, balconies and balustrades. 

Our first views here, typical of early afternoon, were of a male on guard on the highest spray of Oak leaves.  Quite quickly it became evident that there was lots going on up there and at least 6 individuals were seen in almost constant flights.  There were frequent spectacular dogfights, the most intense and prolonged from the canopy top, over the bungalow and cascading to ground level where the defeated briefly grounded on the steps while the victor returned to his sentinel.  

I can't recommend this spot enough for watching iris, it really is lovely and hopefully they will secure a healthy presence at the site over time and provide enjoyment and pilgrimage for years to come.



irisscientist said...

Lots of talk here about 'salts'. Consistent with the earlier work published by Beck (1999) the jury is still fully out on the attraction capabilities of salt solutions, the most likely attraction to male Nymphildae specimens being of protein origin. Humidity however is another factor altogether. Despite what is currently known/published, the possible attraction of male A.iris by salts is poor at best. I copy the link to Beck (1999):

Matthew Oates said...

Thanks so much for such a lovely account of doings in Cambridgeshire. Delighted the county has become Purple...