Bee Orchids

bee orchidfunnel webWe take a walk around the Woolley Colliery site on our Wakefield Naturalists’ Society midsummer field excursion. I remember this being a grey spoil heap in the 1980s but it’s now fully restored. Hundreds of orchids are in flower on the grassy slope including plenty of bee orchids, a species which I don’t remember having seen before.

Amongst the grasses a spider has spun a large funnel-web. It was lying in wait in the centre but I didn’t manage to show it in my photograph.

Woolley colliery site

common spotted orchid
Common spotted orchid

We decided that most of the orchids here were common spotted, with a few paler, taller flower spikes that might be hybrids.

Could this be a hybrid between a common spotted and a marsh orchid?
Could this be a hybrid between a common spotted and a marsh orchid?

Willow warblers and chiff chaffs were singing at the scrubby edges of the meadow area while down at a rush-fringed lagoon a reed warbler was enthusiastically going through its varied guttural performance.

There were plenty of toad tadpoles, many of them sprouting their first pair of legs, congregating near a drainage pipe at the sunny edge of the lagoon.


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    1. The reserve lies close the edge of the range of two species, the southern marsh orchid and the northern but the warden tells me that most of the orchids you’ll see here are the southern species although you’ll also find hybrids with the northern. Southern marsh orchids are robust, growing to two feet tall and typically have no spots on their leaves. Thank you for the link. I wouldn’t try to grow orchids, they’re so unpredictable in the wild – especially the bee orchids – so they’d be beyond my skills as a gardener, I’m sure!

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