This year's orchid count is underway; so far there are 80 early marsh (Dactylorhiza incarnata), a few northern marsh, lesser butterfly and heath spotted orchids. The first heath fragrant orchids are just coming into flower. The variability of heath spotted orchids is considerable, made even more tricky by hybridisation with other marsh orchids. There is an example below.
|Heath Spotted Orchid (but maybe Common Spotted as the central lobe of the labellum is very long)|
|Lesser Butterfly Orchid|
|Early Marsh Orchid (ssp. pulchella?)|
|Early Marsh Orchid (ssp pulchella ?)|
There is a little ritual developing with one of the deer; I come out with a camera at 7.30am, take a couple of pictures until it sees me, then it heads off at pace to find a part of the fence it can jump, its night-time grazing over. The same on three days so far.
|Small Angle Shades|
If the weather conditions are suitable I shall run the trap again at the weekend.
I looked at some of the early marsh orchids but could find very few with pollinia missing. All I found were some flowers where slugs had damaged the flowers.
|Early Marsh Orchid one week after the first flower opened, probably damaged by slugs|
An unexpected small treat was to find an uncommon plant on the road verge (the A87 gets another mention), 50 metres from my gate: moonwort, a strange looking fern last recorded in the tetrad square (i.e. 2 km by 2 km) 26 years ago. In truth it is easily overlooked, and I was in any case looking for orchids.