Today I went up to the reserve with Becca, a good friend of mine and one of the on-site wardens from years gone by. We concentrated on square A1, where most of the Lady orchids & Lady x Monkey hybrids are located.
It was pretty obvious from just a glance that we have many more hybrids this year – possibly due to a genuine increase in numbers and also because we probably didn’t map-in all the tiny plants that came up last year. Sure enough, we found lots of small plants and seedlings dotted all over the same area where the hybrids have always been found but they don’t seem to be expanding their range much, though a few plants have been found over the boundary fence in the edge of the woodland.
The day was really warm and very Spring-like, with Buzzards & Red kites overhead and butterflies like Peacock, Brimstone (including 1 female ovipositing), Orange-Tip, Small Tortoishell, Comma, Holly Blue & a potential Dingy Skipper. I say ‘potential’ because I saw a Burnet Companion moth a few minutes later and it could have been that. We were also treated to good views of a Weasel playing in the hedge next to where we were mapping.
We closed the day on 22 Lady orchids (3 will flower) & 289 hybrids – over 100 more than last year (of which at least 66 will flower). The total number of all rare orchids this year is over 700 – a new record by about 150 plants, mainly due to the hybrids.