The mild winter and this year's weather seem to have suited the orchids. Walking round Holme Dunes this week they seem to be everywhere.
The dune slacks are full of the small, stumpy inflorescences of Early Marsh-orchids (mostly the red ssp. coccinea but also a few of the pale pink nominate ssp. incarnata). The deeper purple spikes of Southern Marsh-orchids appear in more grassy areas, including those grazed by the ponies during the winter. Smaller numbers of Common Spotted-orchids are present in some of the longer grass. Common Spotted-orchids hybridise with both Early Marsh-orchids and Southern Marsh-orchids to produce a wide range of flower forms, often on very vigorous plants.
Another member of the orchid family present in the dune slacks in good numbers, but only just coming into flower, is the Marsh Helleborine.
At first I thought that Bee Orchids were struggling for numbers this year but as I walked around the reserve I kept coming across them in small numbers but in numerous locations. Like all orchids they can appear in a place one year and not appear there again for a number of years.
The other orchid presently flowering at Holme is the Pyramidal Orchid. This appears in a section of the drier dunes and is showing in very large numbers this year (I counted 739 flowering spikes yesterday).
Early Marsh-orchid Dactylorhiza incarnata ssp. coccinea
Early Marsh-orchid Dactylorhiza incarnata ssp. incarnata
Southern Marsh-orchid Dactylorhiza praetermissa
Common Spotted-orchid Dactylorhiza fuchsia
One of many Dactylorhiza hybrid orchids
Marsh Helleborine Epipactis palustris
Bee Orchid Ophrys apifera
Pyramidal Orchid Anacamptis pyramidalis
Some of the hundreds of Pyramidal Orchids in the dunes