Orchids have a strange effect on me

A few days ago I was delighted to discover I am getting better at finding and identifying orchids out in the field. In 2016 I was struggling to see them let alone identify, and last year I was very confused by the hybrids. This year however not only was I spotting them relatively quickly I even managed to identify quite a few straight off. All sounds rather marvellous, unless you had been watching me. Then you would have probably been very amused as I headed off down slippery banks and skulked beside country roads. What about the views most walkers would have cried! I simply didn’t care though as I had been struck down by ‘orchidelirium‘!

It became evident I had caught this Victorian condition again when we were at one of our favourite birding spots – Ludo. We had only just started out when I spotted Bee Orchids at my feet, and moments later I found gorgeous Green-Winged Orchids and Mirror Orchids. I’ve completely forgotten what birds we saw that day!

The following afternoon I simply had to go out again to find more. We headed this time into the barrocal, an area where traditional farming practices can still be seen and it is possible to enjoy strolls along tracks which have not changed for decades if not centuries. There was one track in particular I had in mind as it is here every year I discover at least 5 species of orchids. We were not the only tourists there on Friday as it is on a popular walking guide trail, however not one of the four couples we saw striding noticed the hidden beauty at their feet.

Now whilst I appreciate the orchids hidden in the grasses are not easy to spot, I do find it strange that they didn’t notice those at knee level. Some of them were just flaunting themselves in the sunshine. And who can blame them they are gorgeous.

After a short distraction watching a Woodchat Shrike and Red Rumped Swallows I was off again on my hunt. I knew that somewhere there would be Serapias, and I was determined to find at least one before we returned to the car. My efforts were to be awarded at the side of a road. I am confident they are both Tongue Orchids, but I have no idea if they are Serapias lingua, Serapis strictiflora or Serapias parviflora. My best guess is lingua but would welcome an expert view.

We didn’t have time to return to the section of the walk where I have seen broad-leaved helleborines nor the field where heart-flowered orchids can be found. But I know they are there, and so I’ll be back next year when I hope I will be overcome by orchidelirium once more. It is after all a rather wonderful condition to have.

Author: BeckyB

It's a good life walking, cooking, photographing, volunteering, reading, blogging, and best of all spending time with family, friends but unfortunately no longer the cat.

34 thoughts

  1. If they’re there I usually spot them, I timed it well at Exmouth last year, I must go back next month! I don’t usually know what kind I’m looking at though, but that’s okay 🙂

  2. I think there are bee orchids in Cornwall but I have yet to find them. And I walked past several pyramidal orchids without seeing them! Your post is a delight to read and accompanied by beautiful orchid portraits too.

    1. Thank you so much 😄 I was saying to Gilly I know nothing about English orchids. I must go out exploring as I’m back in time this year, that’s if I find time. Been so so busy since our return – really not enough hours in the day.

  3. As usual, brilliant illustrations to a fascinating post. I must admit I’m not very observant when out walking in the countryside but I shall be more diligent from now on in.

  4. What a wonderful orchid gallery, Becky. We do have a couple of obvious common varieties on Windmill Hill (not till June though) – pyramidal and spotted, and also sometimes the very uncommon bee orchid, but the latter is tiny, tiny, and hardly to be seen unless some ‘in-the-know’ person points you in the right direction.

  5. For a moment after I read your title I wondered if you’d been smoking orchids! 🙂 I am always amazed by people who just barrel along a walking track without stopping to actually look at anything. But at least they’re soon out of the way, leaving the rest of us to enjoy the little things.

  6. wonderful to go for a walk and find such lovely and interesting things.

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