What to see

Pyramidal and Bee orchids.
Pyramidal and Bee orchids.

From as early as March Bepton Down bursts into life and the visitor should not be disappointed.   The first real treat to be seen is the carpet of cowslips with their nodding flower heads.  A beautiful sea of yellow.  At the same time the Early Purple orchids should be putting in an appearance and will be in flower from April onwards.  Not many are to be seen on this site but careful scrutiny of the area should reveal some of these jewels.

May brings with it the massed ranks of the Spotted orchid which overtake the whole site in shades varying from pale pink to purple with the occasional white one thrown in for good measure.  The late flowering ones will still be visible in August depending on the season.  At the same time the difficult to spot and not so numerous Common Twayblade will be flowering from May until July.

The first of the Pyramidal orchids start to show in June and most will be in flower by the end of July and some will still be flowering in August.  As the photograph shows both Pyramidal and Bee orchids seem to co-exist side by side but the Bee orchid is usually over by the end of July.  Another orchid to bloom from June onwards is the Greater Butterfly orchid.  It has a short flowering season and is over by the end of July.  It is not very common on Bepton Down but the sharp-eyed visitor will usually be able to  spot a clump or two.

Then there are all the other beautiful chalk downland flowering plants ranging from the tiny Eyebright, which is always a welcome sight as it is parasitical and weakens undesirable grasses, to the larger and more obvious wild herbs such as Basil and Marjoram.

Numerous butterflies enjoy the bounty provided by Bepton Down and there is a short list of some of the ones seen here elsewhere on this website.  Bumblebees are to be seen too as are many other types of insects.

Later in the year various types of fungi will emerge depending on climatic conditions at the time.

Bird life is plentiful and an occasional Barn Owl might be seen quartering the Down in the early evening especially if it has owlets to feed.  The South Downs support several birds of prey such as the Sparrowhawk, the Kestrel, the Buzzard and, a more recent delight, the Red Kite.

Both Roe and Fallow deer exist on Bepton Down and will come into the grassland to feed in the early morning or at dusk.  They might also be joined by a Badger though these are mainly nocturnal.  The sharp-eyed visitor might detect badger hair caught on the fencing wire.

All in all there is plenty to see.  The Bepton Down Conservation Group occasionally organise a walk and should you wish to join us for this we suggest you book to avoid disappointment as numbers are limited.



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