walking at burnham overy yesterday we came across three woolly bears, the long furred and very speedy caterpillars of the garden tiger moth, Arctia caja . they were in a hurry to get to the next plant, humping across the sandy path, but nowhere near a garden, so that must be a misnomer.

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it is a very special time of year in the sand dunes there, the orchids are in flower, masses of them.

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early marsh-orchid, “subspecies coccinea is a well-marked subspecies which is confined to damp ground in sand dunes: it is fairly frequent around the coast in suitable situations and is distinguished by its bright red flowers”. bright purple flowers in this case, and only this area of the dunes which is like a flat valley between the older higher dune-hills and a new strip of dunes which edges onto the beach, and has been eaten away into dune-cliffs by this winter’s storms. it looks as though this tiny habitat may be threatened soon with rising sea levels. it is damp and mossy, where the sand has been blown off the soil.

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peaceful scenes of cattle grazing in the lush marshes protected by high banks from the saltings and edged with deep ditches and reed beds which hush in the wind, reed or sedge warbler singing loudly from the tall reeds next to the path and larks high up above.

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as everywhere this year, dog roses are at their riotous best; white like this one, or pink.

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then from the top of the dune-cliff, the beach, almost empty, a shrimp trawler close in.

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with Tilda out of action (too close a contact too fast with an old barbed-wire fence) Emmet was our hero, battling the waves and scampering up and down the dunes.

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our own comic and rather wet woolly bear.

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