Lucky enough to spend the morning in Altcar Rifle Range today, for a coastal conservation meeting - I haven't been in there for an alarmingly long time (28 years!!!!) and then it was a brief visit to ring a brood of Little Owls one evening with Tony Duckels.
So I was happy as a pig in poo to get in there today, and with lots of familiar faces - John Houston, Phil Smith etc etc - it was an enjoyable bit of work.
The meadows around the firing ranges are stunning - bursting with wild flowers from Ragged Robin to more Common Twayblades than you could shake a Bee Orchid at, and there were a bewildering array of marsh orchid hybrids to get paranoid about too.
This one below is either a mega Sefton coast find or not - the grown-up orchid folk will have to decide, but Phil seemed excited, which I always take to be a good sign.
Very slender, small and with very, very narrow leaves....(the orchid, not Phil).
Way too late for Green Winged Orchid of course, but I'll be keeping my eye out for the next guided walk in 2011.
Top marks to the MoD for careful management.
Birding was pretty good too - day flying Barn Owl and no fewer than three reeling Groppers, one conveniently perched up on a Hawthorn bush.
Eyes to the skies everyone, eyes to the skies...