Thursday, 25 June 2009

Does one Bee make a summer?

The small colony of Bee Orchids in the Paddock at Bockhill seems to have vanished for good. This may be due to the grazing pressure on the area from the ponies.

Nigel Jarman had told me that there are Bee Orchids on the downs near Folkestone, on the slope above Holy Well, and this afternoon I decided to see if I could find them. I have to admit that I'm not good at finding flowers in amongst the grasses, I suppose it is because my colour vision is so bad. There were quite a few butterflies to see as I wandered down the slope, crisscrossing it on the paths, (needing one leg longer than the other). I saw my first Ringlets and Marbled Whites of the year, but it was so hot that they seemed to be constantly flying, seldom settling for a photo.

As I got lower down the slope I found this Comma zapping around, stopping occasionally to sun itself. You can just see the "comma" on the underwing. It is the first I've seen since a few in spring that had over wintered.

I reached the bottom of the slope and I still hadn't found any orchids, and considered turning round. Instead I continued to the boardwalk and came across my one and only orchid of the day, just a foot or so of the left of the wooden walk way.

Bee Orchid Ophrys apifera

Of all our Orchids the Bee seems to have that extra special simple beauty. It is the only member of the genus Ophrys that is self pollinating, so that although it seems to mimic a bumblebee it is in fact quite independent of insects for its survival.

The flowers are quite similar to Late Spider Orchids, but they lack the yellowish nib at the base of the lip that is present in the Late Spider orchid.

As I was looking at the orchid this strangely coloured Rabbit ran into the wood nearby. It was a sort of beige colour, not one I'd seen in a wild Rabbit before.


Kingsdowner said...

Coincidentally, I also quartered Sugarloaf Hill and Holywell yesterday, looking for Late-spiders of course. None of these, but I found two colonies of about 20 Bee orchids each, plus a few individual specimens.
Nice place!

Kingsdowner said...

And there were a few light-coloured rabbits.