Orchid Walk – 11th June

A group of us enjoyed a walk at Netherfield Lagoons looking at the orchids this Saturday morning. Despite the odd, dodgy looking cloud, the weather stayed fine as we ambled around the site. The scrub clearance along the northern bank of the Slurry Lagoon has been successful. We saw some lovely displays of Common Spotted Orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii). One or two of them were pure white whilst others were hybrids with the Southern Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza praetermissa), their flowers being a slightly darker pink and their leaves showing variation in the extent of spotting. There was a fine specimen of Southern Marsh Orchid, with no spots on the leaves and two large spikes of quite deep pink flowers. However, they still weren’t really dark pink/magenta enough to be totally ‘pure’ Southern Marsh Orchid, but who cares, they were magnificent!

We next walked along the Causeway to see the Pyramidal Orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis), which was beginning to bloom with two beautifully pink spikes. It was then on to the end of the Causeway to look for Bee Orchids (Ophrys apifera). We checked the usual area on the outer bank of the Deep Pit and found a few specimens in flower, once we’d got our ‘eyes in’ so to speak. They are hard to spot, but once you’ve seen one you can usually find a few more nearby. We continued to look for them as we wandered around the Deep Pit and found a few small colonies scattered along the banks, but you have to look hard to find them.

Also along this bank are the Northern Marsh Orchids (Dactylorhiza purpurella), which Dave Wood found last year. We had a good look at these smaller marsh orchids, with deep magenta flowers, through our binoculars to save us all climbing the fence but none of us could be 100% sure of their identification, despite having a variety of botanical books to consult!

It was then on to the Small Gravel Pit to admire the new information board and dipping platform, before heading home. It was an enjoyable way to spend a Saturday morning.