Today is probably just about my last orchid hunting trip of the season as Autumn Ladies Tresses are the last orchid species to flower in the UK, so today I visited Badbury Rings to find Autumn Ladies Tresses and Autumn Gentians.
The Autumn Ladies Tresses were easy to find along the outside edge of the middle ring, whereas the Autumn Gentians took a little more searching for as they are really quite small.
Tonight, I re-visited Wilverley Plain after being given the heads up that the Field Gentians (Gentianella campestris) were in flower. I’d missed these on my first visit as I hadn’t been in quite the right place.
This time I approached from the A35 side of Wilverley Plain and found the Field Gentians at the edge of the lawn just about where the heather starts to come in (thanks for the heads up Chris).
Here are the best of tonights photos.
As far as I can see, the Field Gentian is very similar to the Autumn Gentian (Gentianella amarella) with the exception that the latter tends to be found on dry calcareous grasslands, which Wilverley Plain is most definitely not. I am sure that there are other, more subtle physical differences between the two species, I have to confess that I’m not a good enough botanist to know what they are.
I’ve been waiting to visit this site to see the Autumn Ladies Tresses (Sprianthes spiralis) since I was told about it by a friend right at the start of the orchid season (thanks Ian).
The short turf of the forest lawn at this site must be ideal for these beautiful orchids as there were literally thousands of flower spikes, many still in bud, but a good proportion were in full flower, although the best specimens took a bit of searching out.
After work tonight, I took a bit of a detour, well 40 miles of detour actually, in order to photograph Green Flowered Helleborines (Epipactis phyllanthes) at a site next to the A343 just south of Newbury.
There were loads of GFH at this site, but as there isn’t much in the way of verge its a pretty scary place to set up the tripod and camera as the traffic flies by at high speed.
I donned a high vis vest, which I would recommend as a necessity for everyones safety at this site.
I’ve been waiting for the past couple of weeks for some Broad Leaved Helleborines (Epipactis helleborine) to open up in full flower. This morning, I called in to see what they were looking like, and was pleased to see that they were in full flower.
Then tonight, I called into a location I’d been given the details of in Winchester to see Green Flowered Helleborines (Epipactis phyllanthes). This was a first for me, and I have to confess that despite these spikes being up for several weeks that the flowers weren’t open. I have read that the flowers are self-fertile and sometimes do not open at all, and I guess that is the case with these ones.
I made an early start this morning, and on the way to a job in reading called in to Mapledurwell Fen next to the M3 at Basingstoke.
According to the Natural England SSSI citation (http://www.sssi.naturalengland.org.uk/special/sssi/sssi_details.cfm?sssi_id=1001308), “Mapledurwell Fen is an extraordinarily rich site which is the last relict of a formerly much more extensive area of similar vegetation largely lost to drainage and motorway construction. The site holds one of the richest known associations of fen species in central southern England.”
I called in at this site to photograph the Marsh Fragrant Orchid (Gymnadenia conopsea ssp. densiflora) and some pale flowered Marsh Helleborines (Epipactis palustris var. ocroleuca).
Marsh Helleborine (Epipactis palustris var. ocroleuca)
I spent this afternoon searching for Frog Orchids at Badbury Rings. As this site is only fifteen minutes away from home, I thought it’d be a pretty poor show if I didn’t manage to find the Frog Orchids on my own patch.
It took me a while, but I did eventually find some, the first ones when a call from my wife distracted me from photographing a Pyramidal Orchid, only for my eyes to fall on a group of Froggies.
Some of the ones I found today were much larger than the ones I saw last week at Noar Hill and Ladle Hill.
There were both the green flowered variety.
And the much redder variety.
The Common Fragrant Orchids, most of the Common Spotted Orchids, and the vast majority of the Bee Orchids were past their best, but I did find this single Bee Orchid that wasn’t in bad condition.
The Pyramidal Orchids were putting on a spectacular show.
And today I thought I’d take an alternative view of a Pyramidal Orchid.
Its been about a fortnight since I visited the Heath Fragrant/Marsh Helleborine site in New Forest, and I thought I’d drop in tonight to see how the Marsh Helleborines (Epipactis palustris) were progressing.
I was pleasantly surprised to find quite few spikes out in flower. This is the first time that I’ve actually seen this species in flower, so was pleased to find them out.
I also found some tall white orchids in a very boggy stand of trees. There were some Heath Spotted in amongst them, but this particular plant didn’t have any spotted leaves. I’m not suite sure what it is, but haven’t had a really good look at the flower shape.