I was delighted yesterday, as I walked up the west paddock at Cosmeston Lakes Country Park, to spot my first two flowering Common spotted orchids of the year. This is just the beginning of what will, I’m sure, be another stunning display, as both the east and west paddocks are usually awash with orchids in the summer months.
The occasional smatterings of rain we’ve had in the last few days have eased, ever so slightly, the drought conditions hereabouts, and the flush of new growth that was evident during this morning’s early walk through the fields at Cosmeston included my first Common spotted orchids of the year. Superb!
Remember I said on Friday that they’d be ‘coming soon‘, well here they are. The Six-spot burnet moths have begun to emerge, buzzing around the wildflowers like little red-and-black bumblebees. Delightful!
As more and more orchids are now appearing, I thought I’d post a few photos of those I’ve seen so far this year. The first were the aptly named Early purples (Orchis macula), though this year they were even earlier than usual I’m told – I spotted these beauties at Lavernock Nature Reserve on 23 April.
Next up were these pretty little Heath spotted-orchids (Dactylorhiza maculata) found growing at the Aberbargoed Grasslands National Nature Reserve on 15 and 21 March, when I was visiting for the Marsh fritillaries.
During Monday’s wander at Lavernock I spotted the first open flower of a Common spotted-orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsia) and on Thursday, 23 May, I found the first couple of these at Cosmeston Lakes Country Park.
And today’s delightful discovery, also at Cosmeston, was my first Bee orchid (Ophrys apifera) for 2019. I look forward to the warm summer days when the fields at Cosmeston are awash with (mostly Common spotted) orchids – they’re a joy to behold!
Not only is this day 19 of #30DaysWild, but today is also the second day of National Insect Week. To celebrate, here is one of my favourite British insects, the Swollen-thighed Beetle (Oedemera nobilis). I see these little guys on almost every type of flower at this time of year – this one’s on a Common spotted-orchid – and they always make me smile. It’s the male beetles that have those fat thighs – I haven’t been able to find out why, so if you know, please do tell.
#30DaysWild, 30 Days Wild, Bee orchid, Blackcap, Brimstone butterfly, Common blue butterfly, Common spotted orchid, Emperor dragonfly, Grangemoor Park, Holly blue butterfly, Large skipper, long-tailed tit, Meadow Brown, Pyramidal orchid, Southern marsh orchid
Day 9 of #30DaysWild saw me at Grangemoor Park, a place that used to be Cardiff’s rubbish dump: when it closed in 1994, it contained an estimated four million cubic metres of garbage, both commercial and household. Now, it’s not only a public park but also a SINC (Site of Importance for Nature Conservation), and is home to a wonderfully diverse range of flora and fauna. My photos show just some of what I discovered there today …
For day three of #30DaysWild I went searching for orchids at Cosmeston Lakes Country Park, and I got lucky. The Common spotted-orchids are blooming in good numbers now, two of the small number of well hidden Greater butterfly-orchids are flowering, I found my first Bee orchid of the season, and I think I found my first Southern marsh-orchid as well. It couldn’t get much better than that!
Common spotted-orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii)
Greater butterfly-orchid (Platanthera chlorantha)
Bee orchid (Ophrys apifera)
Southern marsh-orchid (Dactylorhiza praetermissa) (and Common blue butterfly)
Anacamptis pyramidalis, Bee orchid, British flora, British orchids, Common spotted orchid, Cosmeston Lakes Country Park, Dactylorhiza fuchsii, Greater butterfly-orchid, native orchids, Ophrys apifera), orchid, Platanthera chlorantha, Pyramidal orchid
The meadows at Cosmeston Lakes Country Park are awash with orchids, Common spotted-orchids, (Dactylorhiza fuchsii), Bee orchids (Ophrys apifera), Pyramidal orchids (Anacamptis pyramidalis) and, in a secluded location off the beaten track, a tiny smattering of Greater butterfly-orchids (Platanthera chlorantha). To walk along the paths amongst these beauties is simply magical!
In the past, when I heard the word orchid, I would think of the exotic tropical species to be found in places like Singapore and other Asian countries. Now I know there is an entirely different kind of orchid that is a British native and, while not as spectacular in appearance as some of the exotics, these natives are, I think, even more beautiful.
The flower spikes stand tall, like sentinels, amongst the more flippant flora of the meadows and chalk grasslands, though the individual flowers are delicate little poppets, with a surprising range of patterns and hues. This is partly because they hybridise easily which can make them difficult to identify. I think I have here examples of the Common twayblade, Early purple, Southern marsh and Common spotted orchids.