Friday, 28 June 2013

CSO maps 2!.. Fill the Gaps

Common Spotted Orchid screen shots continued....
can you fill the gaps?

The South shows the Totternhoe block, but very sparse elsewhere with none yet entered for Blow`s down, Houghton Regis or Cottage Bottom.

Mid East of the County again shows a sparse coverage where there will be records up the river valleys and along footpaths.

Good luck with your hunting and lets fill some of these gaps!

Fragrant summer...

Thank you to everyone who have sent orchid records in on Adnoto. It seems to be a good year for Fragrant Orchids on the Chalk with some decent colonies at Barton Hills.
Common Spotted Orchids are doing well and  there must be even more that can be found.

 Below are some screen shots of Adnoto showing the location of records sent in as of yesterday for Common Spotted Orchid, you can see there are considerable areas with no records..i feel sure there will be plants along unexplored footpaths and trackways. Do get out and have a never know what else you may find!

The North of the county shows records on the road verges around Thurleigh and on the Nature reserve at Felmersham but large areas with no current records..footpaths and river side grassland are all worth a look now.

The South West shows a lot of records on the chalk ridge and at Totternhoe but a big gap around Woburn the M1 and Flitwick

The mid East shows again the concentration on the chalk but a large gap on the Greensand ridge and clay areas.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Bee prepared...

Yes! Bee Orchids are now out and about.

Time to check on those leaves you recorded earlier in the year to see how many have flowered.

Yesterday you were busy finding and recording orchids.
 We received 58 Adnoto entries recording over 3,600 flowering plants. Many of these were Common Spotted Orchids which are having a good year so far. Do get out and enjoy them.

Wilf Powell`s photo shows just how beautifull a good show of orchids can be.
Fragrant Orchids seem to having a good year also with good numbers recorded for Barton Hills, and i saw my first Pyramidal Orchids in flower yesterday.
Now is also a good time to visit any wet areas to see if there are any marsh orchids. They are in flower on Cowslip Meadow in Luton but because of the drainage of our wetlands are now scarce in the county.
Happy hunting!

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Spots before the eyes....

At last our orchids seem to have decided they had better get going around the longest day before it gets too late.

Commom Spotted Orchid are now approaching their peak and there are some cracking plants and colonies that can be seen now...please send colonies in on Adnoto and dont assume someone else will!
Common spots at Whipsnade Downs
Fragrant Orchids are also mid way coming into flower now, look out for the long spurs at the back of the flowers as in this one below. They do not have spotted leaves and stand out amonst the common spotteds with which they may occur as appearing more delicate.
Other Orchids will be some time in coming into flower.
The Frog Orchids on Dunstable Downs are still being shy and will be another two or three weeks before they are more easy to find. Pyramid Orchid is only just begining to show some colour in their spikes and Bee Orchid wil be out in the next two weeks also.
 Frog Orchid leaves

Recording the presence and absence of our orchids is important to get an idea of the current distributions and population sizes. For our rarer orchids i am keen that we find out something about what is happening to their populations. Most have retracted their range in recent decades. Do they get pollinated and set seed? 
Our Wildlife Trust has been studying Man and Musk Orchid at Totternhoe. If pollination has been carried out then the seed pods enlarge as the seeds develop. 
A similar study of the Burnt -tip Orchids is important as in the last few years all the flowering plants have either been trodden on or eaten by rabbits before seed has been set.
Burnt -tip with three lower seed pods swelling indicating that the these flowers have been pollinated. The remaining thin seed pods have not and will quickly wither once flowering has finished

The Burnt-tips have had some plants protected from rabbits and feet with wire cages so we can learn if pollinators are present and seed can be set.
I am interested if you see swelling seed pods on the orchids you see and also if you see pollinators at work!
White Helleborine are now out in good numbers in places, look out for them particularly beneath Beech trees on the chalk. Although they can be out in grassland also.
White Helleborine
Happy hunting!

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Good year for butterflies?

This little beauty was found close to Thurleigh yesterday.

Greater Butterfly Orchids can be found in woodland and grassland so keep your eyes out in woodland rides and wood edges especially on the boulder - clay areas of the county.

The flowers have long nectar filled spurs that are visited by moths to effect pollination...the flowers are scented at night so those with a keen sense of smell may be able to locate them by sniff!

These orchids appear to be able to survive without flowering for extended periods so it is worth following up old records. John Dony recorded it as frequent in our boulder - clay woods and rarely in open pasture. It has declined..or at least records of this lovely plant have that Chris Boon descibes it as rare in Bedfordshire...this year may be a good year to rediscover it in some old haunts.  Ancient woodland, old grassland, even road verges around Thurleigh, Sharnbrook, and other areas of boulder-clay and limestone are all worth a look. It should occur in woods on the chalk but there are no recent records.

The even rarer Lesser  Butterfly Orchid should also be out now...if in doubt take a photo of the flower looking in the "face" of the flower..the pollinia ( pollen bearing structures) are two parrallel bars in the Lesser but they are widely separated at the base but converging at their tips in the Greater.

If you find one...or even a whole wood or field full it would be a red letter day.!

Good hunting always

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Now it`s hotting up....


Image Steve Halton
June..or at least it should be..the first two weeks of June are usually the best time for finding our wild orchids. 
However this year does seem to be an exceptional one. June sees May blossom yet to reach its peak while the first Dewberry is in flower and Cow Parsley is still out. 

Steve Halton`s spectral Butterfly orchid drawn especially for our orchid survey should inspire us to get out now and look for this rare and declining plant.

Chris`s atlas records Greater Butterfly Orchid  to the north-west of the county as the remaining stronghold, with possibilities at Potton Wood and in the centre of the county . The even scarcer Lesser Butterfly Orchid was last seen in Potton Wood in around 1980, but may well be lurking awaiting discovery by some intrepid surveyor!  

Many of our commoner orchids are now coming into flower and I await a flood of Common Spotted and Twayblade records in the next week!.

 Bee Orchid, Pyramid and Fragrant will be out by the end of the week..if we get some sun at last . There is still time for someone to find Bird`s-nest elusive phantom of some of the darkest parts of our woods.
Records have continued to come in every day and a big thank you to everyone who has so far contributed..we hope you are enjoying the survey.

It does appear that this year is a bumper one for White Helleborine with probably over two thousand shoots visible in Tingley Field Plantation close to Pegsdon that are viewable from the permissive footpath to the Icknield Way.

Burnt Tip Orchid has had a good year so far with over sixty plants in flower. Some plants will have protection from rabbits this year in an attempt to get some seed produced..they have failed to do so in recent years.

Let`s see what the next two weeks bring..this should be the most exciting time to record your local orchids. Good luck everyone.