June is the month when orchids take centre stage in the Cotswolds with 15 species in Cotswold Commons and Beechwoods NNR alone. Below are some pics of just a few of these taken whilst out and about over the last couple of weeks.
I call this orchid the green-flowered helleborine but I was told today that the name has been changed to pendulous-flowered, hence I think I’ll just use the Latin to save confusion! Not a very exciting orchid to look at this one but quite exciting to find as it does not occur very widely and before it popped up in 2008 hadn’t been recorded within the NNR. It has now been joined by its tiny buddy, the musk orchid, another species that wasn’t in the records for the site but magically appeared last year in the way that orchids do. It is likely that both of these orchids once made a regular appearance on the common but disappeared during the years in which grazing was abandoned and the site became neglected. Their reappearance therefore is an encouraging endorsement of the grazing and scrub management taking place on the site.
Bee orchids in particular appear to be having a fantastic year in the Cotswolds and I have certainly found more than in previous years. Bee orchids are a classic example of the tendency of many orchids to appear sporadically when the conditions are right. Many orchids can lie dormant for years if not decades, only pushing up an energy sapping flower spike when conditions are absolutely perfect and bee orchids epitomise this habit. I have rarely found them in the same place twice although there tend to be areas in which they are more likely to be found which provide a good place to start looking.
There is a much rarer variant of the bee orchid called the wasp orchid and this seems to share the same habit of keeping its fans waiting, sometimes for years at a time. I have known about its presence on one of our sites since I started my job nearly 8 years ago but never managed to find it. Last year someone ‘kindly’ (and a little bit smugly) sent me a photograph of it with directions of where to find it and I still failed utterly. However, a couple of weeks ago fate smiled on me and I somehow managed to walk straight to it, finding not just one wasp orchid but three!
Conveniently they were growing near to a number of bee orchids so it was great to be able to compare the two, see pics below. Apologies if I come across as smug but I really am, come on… 8 years I’ve been looking for this thing and it really was a stunner!