Friday 17 May 2024

The Ranscombe Loop - 17th May 2024

Hungary beckoned but as it required a drive south I opted to divert to Ranscombe for a walk around my old stomping grounds.  It was actually warm and sunny after the last few dismal days and I was encouraged as I headed out from the top of Razorbill Close. The ground was still amazingly wet and churned up in places – especially where the off road bikes had been through  but I was undeterred and set about looking for Orchids alongside the CTRL.

I found a couple of Twayblade and many spikes of gone over Early Purple before discovering several that were still in relatively good nick.  However I could not find one Bee Orchid in any of the regular places and one year I had nearly 300 behind the fence! 

Early Purple Orchid

Early Purple Orchid

Common Twayblade

The Man Orchids and White Helleborines at the top of Kitchen Field were already looking good and one of the latter was quite open and looking all tropical but I was upset to see that the solitary clump of Lady Orchids had been dug up since my last visit in Marsh when a large rosette of leaves was present.  The Fly Orchid enclosure is still fenced but had been let go and is no longer visible from the path.  I found just one spike inside but the Privet and Sycamore saplings are taking over and it needs urgent attention by Plant Life.

White Helleborine with Heliophanus Jumping Spider

White Helleborine

Man Orchid

Man Orchid

Fly Orchid

There were plenty of other flowers too with Sanicle, Narrow-fruited Corn Salad, Scarlet Pimpernel, Salad Burnet, Bluebells, Spindle, Milkwort, Wood Spurges, Bugle, Heath, Field and Germander Speedwells, Columbines and Stinking Iris.

Wood Spurge

Dog Rose

Salad Burnet


Heath Speedwell

Common Cudweed

Stinking Iris

Black Bryony

Meadow Clary

Wild Liquorice



Common Gromwell



Narrow-fruited Corn Salad


I was hoping that the Small Blues would be on the wing and I found 16 in their usual spot although some of the best habitat right alongside the CTRL fencline had been sprayed each side with a herbicide. Burnet Companions danced around them and I also saw a couple of Red Admirals, Peacocks, Speckled Woods and a Small Heath while I kicked up 19 Silver-Y as I walked along – part of the large east coast migrant arrival.

Burnet Companion

Small Blue

Small Blue


There were lots of micro moths zipping around including Pyrausta aurata but it was the lekking Alabonia geoffrella that stole the show.  I have only ever seen the odd single before but I had 14 over three leks!  Geoff is sexy and he knows it!  A much tinier shiny Longhorn - Cauchas rufimitrella was keeping lower to the ground with the males battling over Strawberry flowers.

Alabonia geoffrella

Cauchas rufimitrella

Cauchas rufimitrella

Crambus lathoniellus

Dichrorampus sp

Pyrausta aurata

I found several each of Pyrochroa serraticornis and Cantharis rustica and the first Oedemera nobilis and heaps of a largely orange sawfly that I have yet to identify.  Woundwort and Hairy Shieldbugs were plentiful.

Pyrochroa serraticornis 

Dock Bug

Cantharis rustica

Woundwort Shieldbug

A very abundant Sawfly

Also Sawflies I believe


Pisaura mirabilis

Oedemera nobilis

Azure Damselfly I think

There were plenty of Flies with Pipiza austriaca being the pick of the Hoverflies and Buff-tailed, Early and Common Carder represented the Bumblebees while several imposing Hornets were seen.

Helophilus pendulus

Lucilia sp

Myathropa florea

Pipiza austriaca

Pipiza austriaca


Common Carder Bee

I was surprised what I squeezed into three hours but it was good to be back and surrounded by insects and flowers once again.  I have no regrets about moving to Suffolk; it is quiet and chilled and has equally wonderful wildlife for me to discover but I still have no idea how I lived with the constant roar of traffic on the M2 that followed me around this green haven. 

However, I said that I would not abandon it and promised to drop in when I can if only to remind me of the place that literally gave the confidence during that long year of Furlough and Lockdown to strike out and do something new.

I really should get some sleep – off to guide in Hungary in a few hours time.


  1. Lovely set though I'm sure the speedwell is Thyme-leaved rather than Heath Speedwell.

  2. It was a wonderful local patch and it nurtured your life today.

  3. Hi, I visited this time (May) 3 years ago and saw a bumper crop of the poppies. Also visted in early July last year and there were none.

    I visited today and again, the poppy field seems completely empty.

    Is there a reason for this? Or do you have any idea when they should perhaps bloom? Interestingly there were poppies just beyond the roundabout as you enter and elsewhere in the county poppies are blooming everywhere!

  4. One more question actually, when I last visited years ago there was a wonderful field filled to the brim exclusively with bright Periwinkle blue flowers, couldn't quite locate that this time around. Any ideas where that would be on the reserve?

  5. morning anonymous person! quite simply it varies from year to year as to what germinates and whether it is annual or perennial. The blue field a few years ago was all Vipers Bugloss and the following year was Field and Opium Poppies. The Valley is best for Poppies and late June, early July seems best. good luck

    1. Thanks very much 😀 I will be visiting again end of this month then on the back of your advice hoping for a fruitful visit. One year I think I recall a lovely flax field I think, but that hasn't been repeated