Six southern marsh orchids were present in the usual spot, three more have just been found nearby, and a further two were stumbled upon in Tonford Field. The number of known pyramidal orchids in Whitehall Field has also increased from one to four!
Normally, cattle would be grazing the Boardwalk Field from April onwards, but thanks to the problems encountered immediately after arrival (see May newsletter), the beasts were promptly removed, and have yet to return. As a result, the vegetation in that field is far more luxuriant than usual, and one unexpected side-effect has been the prolific flowering of pale flax in one corner of the field. This is a very delicate plant, with thin, wiry stems and very narrow leaves. There are only a few pale blue flowers per plant, but each one is beautifully veined in darker blue. Scarce in Kent apart from in the Dover-Deal area, it is even rarer inland, so there are three possible explanations for its occurrence at Hambrook: it is indigenous to the site, which seems unlikely, as it is a plant of dry places; it was brought in with spoil used to backfill the quarries after all the gravel had been extracted; or it was sown by the previous owners. We may never know which supposition is correct.
Two great crested grebes were still present on Tonford Lake on 1st,
but with no sign of any chicks, and the adults seem to have
abandoned the lake now. This is a relatively long-lived species (the
record is nearly twelve years), so the population can be maintained
without every pair successfully rearing young each year.
Reed warbler and garden warbler have both been singing from the
narrow strip of osiers that is not being cut by the willow weavers,
and which therefore can be allowed to grow on for several years,
providing habitat for these birds. A pair of linnets appear to have taken up residence on the marshes.