The weather sadly deteriorated for the final day of our Fen Edge holiday, but didn't stop us enjoying Upwood Meadows NNR, a wildlife gem located right on the Fen Edge. The richest display of wild flowers was in Bentley Meadow where medieval ridge-and-furrow and the many ant hills provide differing microhabitats for plants and invertebrates. Our visit was timed perfectly to catch the vivid display of purple and yellow provided by thousands of Green-winged Orchid in a sea of Cowslip and Bulbous Buttercup. While most of the orchids were the classic magenta colour, we found one beautiful white-flowered spike which showed up the green lines on the lateral petals to perfection, as well as several soft-pink versions. The small population of Heath Dog-violet was also in full flower at the northern end of the meadow, growing among a range of unimproved meadow species such as Tormentil, Saw-wort, Devil’s-bit Scabious and Betony , visible as leaf rosettes. The damper parts of the meadow also supported abundant Great Burnet whose zig-zag edged leaves are nearly as attractive as the flowers.
The surrounding mature hedgerows and veteran trees provide nesting habitats for many birds. Perhaps the most important of these is Turtle Dove. The distinctive purring call was heard briefly by some members of the group whilst we were admiring the Green-winged Orchids. After pausing and quietly waiting the rest of the group were eventually rewarded by hearing the calling Turtle Dove. Unfortunately, despite extensive scanning, the bird never left the dense hedge it was calling from.