Northern Marsh Orchid is the first of our local Dactylorhiza orchids to open:
|Northern Marsh Orchid|
The next specimen is paler and has a slight tooth to the front edge of the lip, so I'll give it 90% Marsh and 10% Common:
|Northern Marsh Orchid with signs of Common Spotted Orchid|
This third specimen is clearly a hybrid with Common Spotted Orchid (tall spike, still paler flowers, visibly sharp tooth):
|Northern Marsh Orchid x Common Spotted Orchid|
I'm pretty sure that third one has some Heath Spotted Orchid in it too.
Interestingly enough, the hybrids tend to follow the flowering dates of their major partner: Northern Marsh Orchid is always around 3 weeks earlier than Common Spotted or Heath Spotted, with hybrids somewhere in between, so it's not only physical characteristics that are shared. My 'clean' Spotted orchids are only starting to make spikes now.
I was astonished to also find a Common Twayblade orchid in this location:
I strongly associate Common Twayblade with limestone, so the road in this area must have been fortified or built with limestone chips, since this location is in a strongly acidic heath area. We need to be alert to just how much our actions can affect populations of plants (and hence insects).
Staying with the theme of habitat alteration, this part of the heath has become overrun with False Salmonberry:
False Salmonberry is an american rubus species that was introduced in Northern Ireland to support game birds for shooting. I first saw it locally about 5 or 6 years ago as isolated specimens, but now it has covered acres of heath, eliminating native species as it spreads. It is clear that this is yet another highly mobile and invasive plant.
Bumblebees that are brighter than usual tend to be males, especially if they have yellow hair where black would be expected.
|Male Bombus lucorum|
The hoverfly Sericomyia silentis is an excellent wasp mimic:
|Sericomyia silentis hoverfly|