Friday, 13 June 2014

Hunting orchids in Montgomeryshire

I went to two sites in Montgomeryshire this week to try to refind old orchid records. The first, Pseudorchis albida (small-white orchid) was last recorded in 1981. There was a fairly good description given of the location, as well as a grid reference, but when I arrived it was fairly clear that the heavily cattle-grazed field was unlikely to support the species. I had a good search round (on the northern slope of the knoll, as described) but no sign. I suspect the grassland has been considerably improved and enriched by the cattle grazing since it was last seen.

Luckily, I was also able to visit a SSSI on the same farm's land, which was supposed to support Trollius europaeus (globeflower). Although I did not refind globeflower, it was a nice site to wander around and record a species list for the vice-county recorder. While looking along the river bank (just outside the SSSI) I caught a glimpse of yellow and wondered for a moment if it could be what I was looking for, but in fact it was Meconopsis cambrica (Welsh poppy) - more likely to be a garden escape than a native plant.
Meconopsis cambrica - Welsh poppy - glimpsed through the trees on a river bank
I then went on to another local site, a SSSI with a record for Epipactis palustris (marsh helleborine) - from 1989 (three non-flowering spikes). This one had a really good grid reference but sadly once again I was unable to refind it. There were some lovely swarms of Dactylorhiza maculata (heath spotted-orchid).
A very impressive display of Dactylorhiza maculata - Heath spotted orchid
So not one of my targets refound but hopefully my species lists will be somewhat useful for the vice-county recorder in her preparations for the 2020 Atlas.

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