Tuesday, 12 June 2018

More Green Stuff

It has all been very quiet on the birding front and even the butterflies have been slow as we wait for the summer species to appear. The solution, spend some more time looking for Orchids. Sussex can sometimes seem like a Bermuda Triangle for interesting birds, particularly at this time of year, but I can't complain about the variety of Orchids. You just need a lot of time to search for them.

Hollingsbury Hill and Wellcombe Bottom with twelve species of orchid recorded, looked like a good starting point. We didn't manage to the find the scarce Man Orchids but Fly, Greater Butterfly, Chalk Fragrant and especially Common Twayblades were found in good numbers.

Fly Orchid  -  Ophrys insectifera

Fly Orchid  -  Ophrys insectifera

Greater Butterfly Orchid  -  Platanthera chlorantha

Greater Butterfly Orchid  -  Platanthera chlorantha

Chalk Fragrant Orchid  -  Gymnadenia conopsea

Chalk Fragrant Orchid  -  Gymnadenia conopsea

Common Twayblade  -  Neottia ovata

Common Twayblade  -  Neottia ovata

Common Twayblade  -  Neottia ovata

As with the Twayblade above, not every orchid gives you a colourful flower to photograph and to help you locate them. Some are just dull greens and tend to blend into the background. The Twayblade being taller is easier to see. The Frog Orchid below, at another site, took a lot more searching and it looks as though this is as good as it gets flower wise.

Frog Orchid  -  Coeloglossum viride

The Birds Nest Orchid goes one step further. A dull brown colour, it survives by digesting fungi in the ground rather than by the process of photosynthesis. It only appears above ground as a flower spike. Fortunately in its favoured environment of deep leaf litter in shaded Beech woods there is little else growing to conceal it. This specimen just a bit past its best!

Birds Nest Orchid  -  Neottia nidus-avis

Back to more colourful varieties, Pyramidal Orchids are now starting to appear in good numbers all across the downs.

Pyramidal Orchid  -  Anacamptis pyramidalis

Pyramidal Orchid  -  Anacamptis pyramidalis

and below a very pale Chalk Fragrant

Chalk Fragrant Orchid  -  Gymnadenia conopsea v albiflora

At least I assume all the Fragrants were variety Chalk Fragrant. I am not sure that I have the skills yet to differentiate between Chalk, Heath and Marsh.

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