A fulvofuscus re-visit and other bits, 28 June 2019

When I visited this Bee Orchid var. fulvofuscus a few days ago it was raining so the photos all show wet and shiny plants. So, being the perfectionist, I wanted to go back and get some better photographs! Here they are:

 Bee Orchid var. fulvofuscus

While in the area Belinda and I went for a couple of nice walks and ended up with an early evening picnic which was very pleasant and peaceful. Things of interest we saw were a party of 8 Mandarins, forests of Viper's Bugloss, Common Toadflax, Ladys Bedstraw, Marsh Woundwort, Water Forget-me-not, Dark Mullien and also my first Essex Skipper of the year and Small Coppers, Small Heaths, Painted Ladies, Ringlets, Meadow Browns and Large Skippers. Odonata were represented by Emperor Dragonfly, Hairy Dragonfly, Black-tailed Skimmer and Four-spotted Chasers.


Essex Skipper

Common Toadflax

Common Comfrey

Small Copper

 Marsh Woundwort

Back at home today (29th) I had a close encounter with a Sloe Shieldbug and a Cucumber Green Orb Spider.

Sloe Shieldbug

   Cucumber Green Orb Spider

Bee Orchid var. flavescens, 27 June 2019

More Bee Orchid variation shizzle I'm afraid!

This time I found a distinctive 'flavescens' plant on a roundabout. This variation is basically a stp down from a full 'chlorantha', showing white sepals but with a lip that shows a faded quality like a shadow of a standard lip pattern. These can be confused with faded standard Bee Orchids but this was a fresh flower and those sepals are pure white.

While I was having a mooch about I found some more variable brown-lipped plants which, it could be argued are either bicolor or atrofuscus but don't fit either exactly. It's all a matter of where you draw the line!

Bee Orchid var. flavescens

 Bee Orchids var. anyone's guess! (bicolor/atrofuscus?)


More strange Bee Orchid nonsense! 26 June 2019

At the risk of boring anyone not into orchids!

A very strange Bee Orchid variant was found by a friend near the hospital in Norwich today so I popped along to take a look. This is what greeted me - neither fulvofuscus or bicolor but somewhere in between. It could even prove to be an atrofuscus but the jury is out. As a footnote, later in the day 4 more similar plants were discovered about half a mile away. What on earth is going on is anybody's guess!

A veritable forest of Hoary Mullion was nearby and the belgarum Bee Orchid is now looking a little faded but with one new flower emerging at the top.

Strange times indeed.

  Hoary Mullion

Bee Orchid var. fulvofuscus - the orchid madness continues! 25 June 2019

My arse hasn't touched the ground for the last week and today the orchid action ramped up yet another notch with the discovery of a Bee Orchid var. fulvofuscus in East Anglia! This variation is only known from one site at Radipole in Dorset where there is apparantly one plant this year that is only 3 inches high. Imagine my surprise to arrive at the new site yesterday and find a large healthy looking plant about 15 inches tall and with plenty of flowers on! Despite the rain it was a real stunner with the rarity value only adding to the attraction. The location will not be broadcast, certainly not at present as strictly speaking it's on private land. Hopefully access can be arranged and is being worked on. Also there were a handful of normal Bee Orchids and Broad-leaved Helleborines not quite in flower.

Bee Orchid var. fulvofusca

Broad-leaved Helleborines

Later in the day I made 2 visits to a meadow on the edge of Broadland to see a pure white Southern Marsh Orchid var. albiflora. I say 2 visits because I couldn't find it on my first visit! There were upwards of 1500 Southern Marsh Orchids there too plus 2 Bee Orchids and both Swallowtail and Norfolk Hawker. Neither of those stopped long enough for my camera though. Plenty of Ringlets were out with Large Skippers, Four-spotted Chasers and 1 Black-tailed Skimmer. A Grey Wagtail was also briefly by a small weir.

Southern Marsh Orchid var. albiflora


Bee Orchid var. belgarum and Early Marsh Orchid ssp cochinea, 24 June 2019

Today began with a last minute decision to head up to NW Norfolk. Since the colony at Overstrand died out I'd not seen Early Marsh Orchid of the ssp cochinea for some years. As it's such a stunning looking plant with it's unique red colouration I wanted to re-connect with it and luckily I found quite a few in the dune slacks it favours. Also in the same area I had Southern Marsh Orchids (including a hybrid or 2, one of which looked like what used to be referred to as 'Leopard Marsh Orchid'), Pyramidal Orchids and a single Common Spotted Orchid. In the dunes I was also treated to some nice close views of a Cuckoo, a Lesser Whitethroat heralded my arrival and there were Painted Ladies everywhere.

Fast forward to the evening when, while back at home I learned of the discovery of a Bee Orchid of the belgarum variety near Norwich. After I was kindly given directions I shot straight up there and found it with ease. This variation is identified by a yellow band across the oval shaped lip and is surprisingly distinctive. What a stunner and in East Anglia almost unheard of!

Early Marsh Orchids ssp cochinea

Hybrid Southern Marsh x Common Spotted Orchids (the 2nd pic showing the leaf blotches previously thought to indicate what was called Leopard Marsh Orchid)

 Bee Orchid var. belgarum


An ultra weird Fly Orchid in Suffolk, 23 June 2019

Having missed this oddity last weekend I ventured back this weekend safe in the knowledge that it was stil there and now marked by no less than 6 flags! Even I couldn't fail to find it! It really is one of the weirdest Fly Orchids I've ever seen being stunted, with flowers not fully opened and also a vivid green fring to the lip and 'arms'. It's also interesting to note that every single other Fly Orchid had gone over yet this beaastie prevails.

On to a nearby meadow where the sheers number of Pyramidal Orchids was stunning, with a good variety of colours including several pure white alba specimens. The spot was also overrun with Sulphur Clover! Nuthatch, Garden Warbler and Song Thrush were also seen/heard in the wood.

weird Fly Orchid

Pyramidal Orchids

 Sulphur Clover