Monday, 30 June 2008

Anything for the weekend sir?...Indiana Dave searches for the Fen and Musk Orchid! 29th June 2008.

Early Marsh Orchid
subspecies coccinea

Fen Orchid

Marsh Helleborine

Musk Orchid

Musk Orchid

Travelling down to South Wales, my first stop of the day was the excellent reserve Kenfig NNR.
This reserve is well known for its rare bird sightings, but it's also probably one of the best sites in the UK for orchids, as up to fifteen species of orchids are regularly recorded at this site.
The target at this reserve was Fen Orchid.

Getting up to date information from the visitor centre, I checked out the area in the dunes just east of the beach near Sker point.
Orchids I noted in the area included good numbers of Common Twayblade, Southern Marsh Orchid, Common Spotted Orchid, Pyramidal Orchid, a very late Green winged Orchid, Early Marsh Orchid of the subspecies coccinea and huge numbers of Marsh Helleborines.
After checking this area for over an hour, I finally found a single Fen Orchid in a group of Marsh Helleborines.
The orchid looked like that the local population of rabbits had eaten most of the flower, but at least you could still tell it was a Fen Orchid due to shape of the outer leaves and colouration of the plant.
Returning to the visitor centre I let them know of my find and I spoke to the staff about the numbers of Fen Orchids this year.
Apparently this year Fen Orchid numbers have been down, and the local rabbit population had removed the majority of the flower heads, which I had seen previously.
Hopefully next year the numbers will again be back to the levels I saw at Kenfig a couple of years ago.

Driving back to Leicester, I stopped off at Barrow Wake Country Park, near Gloucester to look for Musk Orchid.
Parking near the entrance to the country park, I soon located good numbers of Musk Orchids on the surrounding slopes.
Taking a number of photos of the orchids, I counted at least 100+ Musk Orchids on the slopes, and was the most Musk Orchids I had ever seen.
Other Orchids seen at this site included Common Twayblade, Pyramidal, and Heath Spotted Orchids.
Although I only found one Fen Orchid at Kenfig was a slight anticlimax, finding over a hundred Musk Orchids at this site was a excellent end to my trip to South Wales and the West Country.
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