After a morning of persistent and torrential rain, the sun finally broke through just as I was setting off for a meeting with two other botanists, to hunt for a rare sedge at Ancaster Valley SSSI. The brisk, cool wind had dried the vegetation by the time we arrived, which was fortunate because much of our time was spent walking on steep slopes, which could otherwise have been quite slippery. Sadly we didn't find the sedge, but saw plenty of other rare and local plants, and confirmed the continued presence of a good population of early purple-orchid in the adjacent hangar woodland.

On my way home I called in at the Woodnook Valley SSSI (see extra), another area of species-rich limestone grassland. Despite the sunshine, it still felt quite chilly and there was very little in flower. I was hunting for rosettes of man orchid. There was a good population a couple of years ago, but today I only managed to find one, though I suspect there are really many more that will become much more obvious in a few weeks.

I also spotted this solitary bee, hunkered down among the grass. It must have been quite cold, because it didn't fly away when I approached it. I haven't yet got a definite id, though it could be Andrena scotica, a common and widespread spring species which forages on spring-blossoming shrubs and trees and various low-growing flowers.

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