Monday, 14 June 2010

A Needle in a Haystack...

That's what looking for the diminutive orchid, Lesser Twayblade is like, in this case the 'haystack' was a fairly large area on Exmoor. I went up there this Sunday armed with a ten figure grid reference which pinpointed the exact location of a flowering spike seen last year. The only problem with this seemingly foolproof plan was that I don't own a hand-held GPS navigator! I hoped  that I might meet someone on site who did have one (rather optimistically) and what do you know, I did! :o) Unfortunately there wasn't any sign of the orchid at the 'magic spot'  but we were in the right general area so preceded to search amongst the heather on what was a  very steep slope in places, quite tiring it was too. Four of us searched for nearly an hour before one was eventually seen. I was amazed just how small the plant was, I knew it was going to be small, but not that small! It was barely 4cm tall and the stem was only about a millimetre thick, like a piece of string it was. The flowers were minute, only a couple of millimetres across and undistinguishable to the naked eye. Still, great to see such a rare (well south of Scotland) orchid. I think the difficulty in finding it adds to the pleasure (if you do find it that is). One of the men on site yesterday was in his eighty eighth year and had been looking for Lesser Twayblade for 50 of them (not continually obviously!) Goes to show how difficult it is to spot even if your in the right place.
The 'haystack'.
A crouching figure (right in the centre) marks the spot where the orchid is growing.

The diminutive, nay, microscopic orchid, Lesser Twayblade.
Close up the flowers show the typical orchid form resembling tiny and exquisite elfin figures

Here Bun is looking suitably overjoyed at seeing such a rare and beautiful plant. 
I mean, who wouldn't be?

To finish, a few more new moths.

Small Angle Shades
Green Silver Lines
Figure of Eighty: Easy to see how it got the name.


Bob Hastie said...

Well done for putting all the work in to find this Karen, well worth it in my opinion.
Maybe I ought to start looking up here.
Now where do I start?

Karen Woolley said...

Thanks Bob, It wasn't as difficult as it would have been without the grid reference. I believe it's actually locally common in 'your neck of the woods'. North facing heather clad slopes would be a good starting point. Good luck! ;o)