Monday, 27 June 2016

#30DaysWild day 27: Rhodochila Yoesden

Yoesden is such a joy to visit at any time of they year, as it's always full of colour, life and extraordinary things. Today I was going to look for something very special indeed though. Rhodochila is a rare variant of the common spotted orchid, that has a dark red-purple lip, lacking the spots and swirls that usually appear on the common spotted orchid. It also has dark purple leaves where the spots have merged to form a single block of colour. I knew it had been found at Yoesden last summer (Peter Creed had told us about it on an orchid walk) but the orchids had gone over by the time I looked for it, so I've had to wait almost a whole year to look for it again.

The chalk grassland slope at Yoesden is pretty big, so it felt a little bit like looking for a needle in a haystack. It was a very enjoyable search though!

There were thousands of common spotted orchids growing everywhere, along with pyramidal and fragrant orchids. I even found a very soggy looking bee orchid.

Fragrant orchids

Pyramidal orchid
I concentrated on looking for dark red in amongst the paler pinks and was fooled by some quite dark coloured common spotted orchids, but they all had markings on the lip of the flower.
Common spotted orchid, but not a Rhodochila
Then I saw an orchid that jumped out because it was so different, with a very dark red lip lacking any spots, lines or whorls. I'd found it! I took some photos of it and looked up to see another one near by. There were two of them. Brilliant!


and another

Rhodochila between two 'normal' common spotted orchids
The leaves were almost completely purple. You can see them below, between the usual spotty leaves of the common spotted orchid.

Rhodochila leaves
The orchids are fabulous at this time of year, but there's plenty of other things to see too. Even on an overcast morning there were masses of marbled whites, meadow browns and ringlets fluttering all around me.
Marbled white

Meadow brown
I saw one skipper, but it was just hiding in the grass and not flying. I guess it wasn't sunny enough for many of the butterflies to be on the wing.
Either a small or large skipper (not sure which)
 As well as the butterflies, there were plenty of other insects.

Marbled white sharing a scabious flower with a longhorn beetle and some
dance flies
Black striped longhorn beetle

Dance fly (I think)
I walked back to the car through the meadow and had a look for the roe deer carcass that I'd found on my last visit about a month ago. At that time it was fairly recently dead, so I was interested to see what was left of it. All I could find was a few bones, so natures scavengers had done a good job on it.

Not much left!

There were several beetles crawling on the carcass as well as nearby, which I think were a type of burying beetle and will have helped to clear up the remains of the deer.

Burying beetle
I also found this very friendly beetle in the long grass.

What a fantastic place that has surprised and delighted me once again.

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