The Pyramidal Orchids are now in flower here at Radipole Lake. I counted twenty plants on my walk this morning and I am sure more will appear in the next week or two. They can easily be seen after the kingfisher gate, about 50 paces on the left hand side of the path on the way down to the North Hide.
Elsewhere on the reserve, the hedgerows are beginning to change to the yellow and pinks of summer wild flowers. The Greater Willowherb is starting to bloom in the wetter parts of the reserve. This plant can grow up to 1.8 m tall. Near the Pyramidal Orchids is a stand of Perforate St John's Wort with its large yellow flowers.
Over at the Discovery Centre there were two Little Egrets on the island and five Grey Herons nearby. Over at the North Hide, the Marsh Harriers, Peregrine, Kestrel and Hobby have been seen. The Bearded Tits have been seen by the Discovery Centre more frequently in recent days.
The Brown Bee Orchid is still attracting visitors on the reserve. The very last flowers at the top of the spike are now in bloom. The photos below were taken this morning.
Join us for a guided mini beast hunt followed by a bring your own picnic by the lake. Suitable for children of all ages, accompanied by an adult. at 11:30am Thursday; 28th July, 4th,11th and 18th August.
Booking essential - cost £3 per child or £e per child if RSPB member
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I went out on the reserve this afternoon to check on the progress of the first Brown Bee Orchid to make its appearance this year. Another flower was in bloom. The plant had clearly had many visitors since I first found it as the area had been trampled and some 'gardening' had taken place. I searched the hedgerow counting the Bee Orchids and found the second Brown Bee only six feet (1.8 metres) away from the first.
In the vicinity of the Brown Bee Orchids I found five more typical Bee Orchids. Photos I took this afternoon of a couple of the best specimens are below:
Elsewhere on the reserve spring is giving way to summer. The honeysuckle and meadowsweet are starting to bloom in the hedgerows. I like to take the time to stop for a moment, smell and enjoy the deliciously scented flowers.
On the way to the office to write this very blog I found a Common Broomrape Orobanche minoron on the edge of the car park near the Discovery Centre. I had been looking for this plant on the reserve these past couple of weeks, so I was very pleased to find one. The Common Broomrape is a parasitic plant which does not have any chlorophyll. The stems are normally brown, the flowers have a papery-look and are lilac veined. Broomrape needs a host plant to survive and obtain the nutrients it requires to grow. The preferred hosts in this case is the red clover but the plants have been known to use members of the pea family as hosts.
For locations of the Bee Orchids and the Common Broomrape, pop into the Discovery Centre or phone on 01305 778313. You can be sure of a warm welcome. With a heat wave predicted next week, the Centre will have ice cream and cool drinks available.
This morning when I visited the Discovery Centre there had been reports of typical Bee Orchids around the reserve but none as yet of the Brown Bee Orchid. I am pleased to report that I did found our Brown Bee Orchid on my wildflower wander. The photos below were taken this afternoon. There are currently two flowers with more to come. I will be coming back next week to check on its flowers. So far I have only found one plant but there could be more. In the past two or three have been recorded. Contact the Discovery Centre for further information and for the location on the reserve.
Below are photos of other Bee Orchids on the reserve. The photo on the left does not qualify as a Brown Bee but some of the yellow makings are missing. The photo on the right is the typical Bee Orchid. All together I found 9 Bee Orchids around the reserve.
Other sightings today include 29 Southern Marsh Orchids with two near the viewing shelter. In the hedgerows there is now Hedge Woundwort which can be mistaken for an orchid but is in fact a member of the Lamiaceae, the Dead-Nettle family.
Butterflies seen today include Holly Blue, which stayed long enough for me to take the photo below, Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell and Speckled Wood butterflies. A Scarlet Tiger Moth was also seen but did not want to settle for a photo shoot.