We usually start to look for the rare orchids (Lady, Monkey & hybrid) on sunny days in February but we only start really serious mapping and counting in March. It is important to know how the colony is doing so that we can plan management work on the site and report the statistics back to BBOWT and other conservation organisations.
This year we have been fairly successful and at the time of writing we have a grand total of 427 plants (a record for the site) with maybe 20-30 additional ones that need to be checked. We also expect several more new plants will also be found once they start to flower so this number is likely to rise to perhaps 440 this year.
The increase in numbers has come primarily from the discovery of a patch of 40 new Lady orchid seedlings just above the existing plants. As the Lady orchids and hybrids grow in numbers we will have to think seriously about providing more detailed statistics that account for the 3 separately.
UPDATE: by the end of the season we actually mapped 477 rare orchids (397 Orchis simia, 51 Orchis purpurea & 29 Orchis purpurea x simia)