2016 has to be one of the best years for orchids at the Gravel Pits for a very long time. Quite what the count is is hard to determine since there are that many (see the featured image for just one example). They are largely on the South Lawn but there are also a few on the North Lawn which is encouraging. Most look to be Southern Marsh Orchids although some are likely to be hybrids.
Whilst not technically on the Nature Reserve, an estimated 40+ Broad-leaved Helleborine orchids have sprung up at the Gravel Pits. The featured image shows just how well they blend in with the greenery. See below for a close-up.
An abundance of Orchids have been spotted at the Ben Rhydding reserve today (see the featured picture of a Marsh Orchid). They are also flowering at the Sun Lane reserve where we were lucky to spot several Brimstone butterflies and a Comma this morning. The Brimstone’s seemed to be thriving among the Alder Buckthorn trees; the food plant for their larvae. Sun Lane currently has an abundance of Birdsfoot Trefoil, which is good news for a possible Common Blue revival. We will be keeping our fingers crossed for this year.
One of our aims at the Ben Rhydding reserve has been to try and promote a wider variety of native plants for birds and insects and we have already planted many plug plants and spread wildflower seed in a coppiced area of Hawthorn. We are happy to report that, after a long period of little plant life, the latter has sprung into life with new flowers making the most of the extra light now available to them. In a bid to try and understand what sort of plants the reserve would support, Steve Peel, of Natural England and a regular volunteer with us, has also analysed a series of soil samples for us. We were most grateful for his efforts since the information will be very valuable in our continued efforts to enhance the site’s biodiversity.