Being helped to discover a Common Twayblade orchid

I joined Bernard Baverstock, chairman of the Camberley Natural History Society, and allround knowledeable guy on flora and fauna, on a morning walk over the local heathland. The aim of the walk was so that he could point out to me the Common Twayblade orchids that I’d signally missed seeing in the dozens of my orchid spotting walks.

Here’s what Surrey Wildlife Trust say about it, in which they note it’s easily overlooked. By gum, that’s true.

The Common twayblade is a medium-sized orchid that can be easily overlooked despite being one of our commonest species. Common in the woodlands, scrub and grasslands of chalky soils, its flower spike carries a very loose cluster of yellow-green flowers that are not as showy as some of the other, more exotic-looking orchids. It is in bloom from May to July.

Here are photos of Bernard pointing out the Common Twayblade orchid, and a closer view of the plant. Thank you Bernard, I’m a happy soul now.

Naturally, I followed Bernard’s advice on spotting wild orchids: UPDATED

UPDATE: Do read Bernard’s comment. He says my photo is not a Twayblade. Oh dear, I’m going take him up on his offer of a guided walk.

Yesterday, for my daily constitutional walk, I followed Bernard Baverstock’s advice and went looking for a wild orchid variety that I’ve not previously recognised. I’ve already said how I feel humbled when expert advice points out something that I’ve missed, especially as I’ve been studying the local wild orchids for months, and months.

On my way to search for the Common twayblade – Neottia ovata,  I encountered a cyclist on a very narrow path through the heather. Part of today’s social distancing fun, we offered each other priority of travel. It was easier for me to step off the path into the heather. We got into conversation, as one does, with Mark – that’s his name, saying that he reads this blog. Much enjoyable chat followed. It’s always an odd experience to meet one of my readers.

Anyway, I found the Common twayblades, at least I think I did. Didn’t spent long studying them as a dirty big black cloud began raining on me. I’ll have to go back again to take some better photos. Here’s my, not great quality, photo.

Wild orchids get room to flower

This week I walked on the heathland track the borders Red Road in Lightwater, and which looks down over Folly Bog. It’s not something I’ve done of late, so was pleased to see invasive trackside vegetation cut down. I’d have cut more down, but hey, what’s been done will make life better for the wild orchids, as you can see from my photos. The wild orchids appear on the trcakside verges and ditches.

It’s great that in the process of cutting back the invasive plants, a new easier access to Folly Bog has been created. Gone is the difficulty of fighting may way through vegetation to get down to the boggy area to espy the progress of sundews, mosses, and Early March Orchids. All in all, I’m looking forward to spring and summer in the local heathland.

A track surface made up of scalpings and junk

The heathland track alongside the Bisley and Pirbright Ranges from Lightwater to Deepcut is a regular walk of mine. I enjoy the distant view of London from Chobham Ridges, and just as much the seasonal changes to the flora and and fauna.

On one walk I noticed a piece of junk buried in the track, and on subsequnent walks I noticed more and more buried junk. Yesterday I photographed some of the buried junk, and thought you might like to see it. These five photos are the most obvious pieces of junk.

The surface of the track is mostly scalpings of one sort or another. Occasionaly there are exposed areas of bricks and crushed ceramics.

Some say they’ve gone fishing, I say I’ve gone orchid hunting

No, I’ve not gone fishing; I’ve gone orchid hunting.

I’ve managed to do a spot of wild orchid hunting in the local heathland and bogs, as is my wont. It’s a bit like stamp collecting, always hoping to identify a treasure in a pile of stamps.

One key difference, I can’t collect the wild orchids, other than by photographing them. The pleasure, or is it pain, I don’t know which, is getting out the orchid identification sources and then expanding my photos on my computer for comparison. A stamp catalogue is easier to use. Ah, well, at least I got out into the heathland and the bogs.

The good news is that the wild orchids are flourishing alongside the heathland track next to Red Road in Lightwater, and here was me being overly concerned about their late arrival. I don’t think they’re quite as vigourous as in previous years – more photo comparison needed to prove this. The Spotted Orchids are variable, so will take time for proper identification. Meanwhile, there’s more good news in that the Early Marsh Orchids in Folly Bog are also flourishing. Here are my photos for you to enjoy.

First the good: Dartford Warblers seen in local heathland

Delighted to say I saw a couple of Dartford Warblers in the heather in Hangmoor Hill, just the other side of Red Road in Lightwater.

How did I recognise them, since they’re on the Amber List of endangered birds? Well, they are known to inhabit this area. They like heaths, and feed of insects. They can be seen on top of gorse bushes, and seen flitting around in the heather looking for insects. What really identifies them is their long tail and habit, that’s how I recognised the pair. Did I see their colour? no I didn’t. Even though they were close to me, all I saw was they appearing dark brownish/grey to me. Photo courtesy of Dean Eades BirdMad in Wikipedia.

Grrrrr, dog poo and aggressive mountain bikers on the heathland

The heathland surrounding Lightwater is a shared resource for us all to enjoy.

Not all users respect the enjoyment of the rest of us. On a heathland walk yesterday to espy the arrival of wild orchids, I naturally wandered on the heathland track and into the heathland in Folly Bog and Hangmoor Hill in search for the little beauties.

What did I experience, sadly, plently of dog poo, and an onrushing mountain biker. Dog walkers, having picked up their dog poo, dump it in a bag by a gate into the heathland, thinking it’s then somebody else’s responsibility. No it’s not. Why do this dog walkers? Having carried it to the edge of the heathland, all you have to do is carry it home and put it into your grey recycling bin. Job done.

As for mountain bikers, with whom we share the heathland track. For goodness sake, when you’re hurtling down the track, at least give warning via a bell, shout, or whatever. You’re simply selfish, arrogant, and aggressive disregarders of others.