Thursday, 31 January 2013

There was a very good turn out to the meeting in Haynes yesterday evening. Around 80 people gave up the TV to hear about the proposed Wild Orchids of Bedfordshire book and the two years of survey needed to check old locations and look for new ones.

Chris Boon introduced us to the current knowledge on orchid distribution in Bedfordshire captured in his award winning new flora. Records for the flora were up to 2006 so with the two years of the current survey we will be dealing with an extra eight years of records. Chris showed distribution maps of several orchids, some like the bee orchid apparently expanding its range while others like butterfly orchid and birds nest orchid have reduced alarmingly.

Graham Bellamy introduced the Adnoto orchid recording form developed by Keith Balmer of the Bedfordshire and Luton Biodiversity Recording and Monitoring Centre (BRMC). see   The orchid recording Adnoto forms can be found on the Beds. Natural History Society (BNHS) at  and are easy to use, especially in getting the grid reference for your records. We would like to know details of the fate of orchid flowering plants, particularly the rarer ones and those in decline. Do the flowers all get eaten off?.. do they set seed or not? If they are not setting seed then this would be a major and obvious factor in their decline. These observations can be added to the Adnoto forms.

After a break for refreshments and looking at books, chatting and signing up to offer help with the field work Richard Revels showed some excellent pictures of orchids and orchid habitats in Bedfordshire. Richard is keen to know of any rarities or hybrids that turn up so that he may photograph them for the book.

The next stage is for the offers of help to be collated and acknowledged, field trips to be organised and for ernest preparation for the coming field season.

Many people can usefully survey their local patches, areas they walk frequently and perhaps visit other areas close by that may hold orchid interest. Orchids can occur on your lawns, road verges, churchyards and even recreation grounds. The BRMC web site has a good link to Accessible Wildlife Sites in the county and these may be visited at any time. There are around 200 of these AWSs, many of them nature reserves. Do send in any orchid records you have, old and new, we found that people have knowledge that  was assumed we knew about, please err on the side of caution and tell us about your finds.

The BNHs have two field outings to look for orchids, one to West Wood on the 23rd May and the second to Pegsdon Hills on the 1st of June..further details to come.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Reminder that there is the first meeting of the Bedfordshire Orchid Group at haynes mission Hall tonight (Wednesday 30th January) at 7.30.

An interesting link to orchid conservation is the work being done at Kew with the Sainsbury Orchid Conservation Project

Many orchid populations are declining and some are so few that it is thought that pollinators are no longer attracted to them.Seeds of orchids are being grown and plants put back out into nature reserves to boost numbers.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Bee orchid leaves..

So how do we know these leaves are bee orchid and not some other species?...

Well, most of the orchids that can be found in Bedfordshire do not produce leaves until  later in the year..mostly march onwards. However there are other so called "wintergreen species" and leaves of burnt tip, man orchid and green winged orchids  could also be found now, but are much less widespread than bee orchid. Burnt tips have only one known location, man orchid only from the Totternhoe area and green winged orchid from only a handful of known sites.

Bee orchids can occur in numbers on roadside grass verges on mown grassland around offices and other buildings and on abandoned arable land only a few years after the soil was disturbed and put down to grass.

Bee orchid leaves can be spotted even from September and the leaves will persist right through the winter to July the flowering time. The leaves tend to be broad, up to 2.5cm across, and with a shiny film like appearance almost like slug or snail trail on the leaf surface as shown in Richards photos.

Once the snow has gone have a look on your own lawns, or fieldside paths in the countryside..have a look at the grass banks around carparks when you go never know what you might find!

Happy hunting.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

January Bee Orchids

Eighty-six Bee Orchids have already be recorded in the first couple of weeks of January (before they became buried in snow!) by Richard, Chris and Graham.

By searching verges and lawns they were able to identify rosettes emerging in the Biggleswade and Shillington areas, with over 40 identified at one site. So you don't have to wait until they flower in July before starting to record. These images taken in February 2010 show what to look for...

The images are Richard Revels' copyright.

Launching the Project

Orchids as a group tend to grow well in the most unaltered habitats such as ancient woodland and old grasslands and their continued presence can be an indicator that all is still well above and below ground at least in some parts of our changing countryside. Some are able to colonise new habitats and grow well in grass verges and abandoned quarries for examples, so new locations are always possible to find.

A snapshot taken over the next two years will be a valuable "state of the orchid nation" in Bedfordshire that future changes can be measured against. We hope you can help.

Please therefore join us on Wednesday January 30th 2013 at The Mission Hall, Haynes, at 7.30 pm for the project launch, where more details will be provided during a digital presentation outlining the project.