An Orchid Safari (& Much More) to Hampshire & Sussex 6th June 2016

Not all wild orchids are found in Kent, so if I ever want to see other species I have to travel. The object of this visit was primarily  to find and photograph Sword-leaved Helleborines and anything else of interest along the way. These beautiful orchids are now likely to be extinct in Kent, thanks to neglect of their last habitats in the County. Their last known sites were located in woodland near Brasted. In the great storm of 1987 all the trees were flattened and later cleared. In this bright open environment, garden escaped Rhodedendrons spread rapidly and basically shaded out everything else, including these orchids. Such as  shame. Anyway, we had a not very nice drive to Hampshire to a known location for them. Needless to say the M25 was at a standstill and we had to divert a long way South through country lanes, adding an an extra hour to the journey. On arrival, we were the only car in the car park and slowly walked through the main path of the wood. It didn't take long

KWT The Larches & A249 Stockbury Reserves - 5th June 2016

After leaving Holborough (see previous blog) there was still plenty of daylight left to explore elsewhere. I hadn't been to the Larches for a while so headed there. It's a KWT reserve near the A249 Detling Hill and comprises a mix of woodland and grass meadows on a steep chalk scarp slope. I couldn't find anything of note in the woods such as Birdsnest Orchid or Yellow Birdsnest that I have found there in the past so I headed into the lower meadow. In a month or so there will be a fantastic display of Broad-leaved Helleborines here. As you can see from the photo, they've some way to go until they flower. Epipactis helleborine Under some Beech trees at the top of this meadow were a multitude of White Helleborines, an uncommon wild orchid. They rarely open to show much of the yellow lip and look like small tulips that grow in the shade. So I was lucky to find several nicely open flowers and shafts of sunlight filtered through the canopy illum

KWT Holborough Marshes - 5th June 2016

 I had visited three venues this day, but the blog would become far too long if all of them were combined, so I have split them up for easier reading. I had planned to revisit the Kent Wildlife Trust Holborough reserve again as the orchids there should be at their best now. Being a wet alkaline fen like environment it is a very rare habitat and I also wanted to see what else I could find there. At first glance I thought these were Field Horsetail, but the leaves have a rather different arrangement, the teeth along the stem and the flowering time is different (though they aren't technically flowers). It's Water Horsetail, a fern. Equisetum fluviatile Not a brilliant photo in the bright sun, but this is the first Meadow Vetchling coming into flower, there's a lot of it here. It differs from the trefoils/birdsfoot in having grass like leaves. Lathyrus pratensis I soon came to one of the orchids I wanted to see. T