2 Jun 2014

Orchids galore

Colin Miles

May 27th 2014 Weather – Cloudy, dry and cool though it did get rather sticky later on! Orchids were the theme for today and as we had rather a lot of ground to cover we split up into two groups.  One went by car to the outer reaches of Waun Las in order to survey the Hay meadow whilst the rest of us walked up to meet them through the Garden and the Whorled Caraway meadow.

So starting out from the Stable block as usual the walkers moved up through the car park towards the Bull.  And soon came across a group of Marsh Orchids, and yet more further on in the Wild Flower meadow – or perhaps they were the Common Spotted Orchid.  The main problem with identifying Orchids is that they are very promiscuous and hybridise very easily.  Thus within a very small area there can be all shades of purple, all sorts of shapes and degrees of leaf spottiness.

Once up into Waun Las we entered the Whorled Caraway meadow.  At first sight it didn’t look at all promising.  Apart from lots of rushes and hundreds of Froghoppers hiding away in their Cuckoo spit there was very little which seemed suitable for Orchids.  But, as Michael pointed out, it all depends on the Fungi in the soil and they will only grow if these are suitable for Orchids.  And once we had got up past half-way we found a patch of Heath Spotted Orchids, about 18 in total  – very exciting.  Then a little further on was another larger group of maybe 25, then yet another even larger and several more groups scattered around.  So that perhaps in all there were approaching 150.

After our fill of these beautiful Orchids we made our way up to the top Hay meadow to meet the others. What had they found? Lots more Orchids, Common Spotted, Marsh, Heath and the Greater Butterfly Orchids amongst this beautiful meadow. And later on as we headed back we found yet more groups of Marsh, Common and Heath.

Of course at this time of year there are many plants and insects about and this looks as if it will be a good year for them, particularly the Common Blue Butterflies and other Butterflies.

Anne’s notes: On the way down to Waun Las a few Marsh Orchids were visible to the right of the path whilst at the bridge we saw a Grey Wagtail and a pair of Mistle Thrushes in field.

Whorled Caraway Meadow: Greater Birdsfoot Trefoil, Trailing Tormentil, Foxglove, Bugle, Lousewort, Heath Spotted Orchids in many large patches, Wolf Spider carrying large egg sac, Common Blue butterfly

Cae Allt Goch: Bulbous Buttercup, Meadow Buttercup, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat Cae Tegeirianau – Orchid Field (Top Hay Meadow), Heath Spotted Orchids, Common Spotted Orchids, Marsh Orchids, Butterfly Orchids SN. 53473 18159 and 534179 18161, Early Forget-me-not, Various Bumble bees, Peacock Butterfly
Car Park: Blackbird, Blackcap – seen, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Garden Warbler – seen, Great Tit, Robin,Song Thrush Pr Speckled Wood Butterflies, Orange Tip Butterfly

Thanks to Anne for these detailed notes and to Peter and John for their photos. If any volunteer or member is interested in joining us please send an email to Colin Miles – you DON’T have to be an expert in anything, just interested. If you click on the Wildlife Walks heading on the left-hand side under News you will see a list of the last 10 Wildlife Survey blogs. If you find an injured bird, hedgehog or other wild animal and want help and advice then phone the Gower Bird hospital. on 01792 371630.