Braving the rare carnivores

The Ranger has recently returned from a few days house-sitting for a friend on the mainland, in Dorset. By happy co-incidence this house was situated just a few metres from a heathland nature reserve. As the Isle of Wight is more or less bereft of heathland, this was a splendid opportunity for wildlife watching, and many happy hours were spent grovelling in the heather. The resulting discoveries kept accompanying photographer Cat busy, and here’s a little photo essay about one plant they found on their excursions. One of the most intriguing and exciting plants found in wet heath is the carnivorous sundew, and the bizarre-looking Drosera rotundifolia seemed to pop up in just about every damp patch – this wet summer must have suited the little things.

Drosera rotundifolia (round-leaved sundew)

The sundew’s sticky pads are efficient traps for invertebrates as this wood ant will testify!

Drosera rotundifolia (round-leaved sundew) with red ant

Many of these little annuals were flowering, and so vigorously that the cheerful white spikes formed a carpet on the pink-leaved ground in some places.

Drosera rotundifolia (round-leaved sundew) flower spike

After a few visits, the explorers were rewarded by the discovery of a small colony of the much rarer oblong-leaved sundew Drosera intermedia.

Drosera intermedia (oblong-leaved sundew)

But, sure enough, even out here in the back of beyond the fragile habitat was subject to the bane of discarded balloons!

Sundew plant and discarded balloon

Here, a few centimetres from the delicate oblong-leaved sundew, is a purple balloon featuring Brewster The Bear, an icon of the Brewster pub chain owned by Whitbreads. To be fair, this one was starting to decompose, and had no plastic insert attached. But why was it there at all? The Ranger cleared away the balloon with much shaking of his head. Find out in his next post what happened when he tried to track down something a little more lively than a carnivorous plant…

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