07/05/2018 Hartslock Nature Reserve, Oxfordshire

Lady Orchid: (Orchis purpurea) Let me open with a brief introduction to Hartslock Nature Reserve. This is by far one of the most beautiful little places I have had the pleasure of visiting. It's located on the north side of the Thames between Whitchurch and Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire. .
The reserve is stunning with breath-taking views of the unimproved chalk downland hills overlooking the river Thames and is full of rare beauties.
 Little Hartslock Nature Reserve has now and its surrounding area a beem designated ‘Site of Special Scientific Interest’ (SSSI) and the whole Goring Gap region is an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ (AONB).

One of the rare orchids little Hartslock is known for its the lady's orchid, second to lizard orchid the lady orchid is the biggest orchid we have in Britain.

The sepals and upper petals are known to be purple, hence the lady orchid adopting the Latin name purpurea. The lady orchid gets its name from its sepals and upper petals shapes as they are known to resemble a lady wearing a white dress and purple bonnet.

The orchid family has adapted wonderfully for cross pollination, with the flowers’ complex shapes primary function being to ensure that its own pollen does not reach its own stigma. In turn insects and other pollinators have adapted to the shape of specific orchids.

Hybrid Lady x Monkey Orchid: (Orchis purpurea x O. simia) Hartslock is famous for the monkey and the lady x monkey hybridised orchids found in recent years.

I've read on the Hartslock Nature Reserve website that back in 1997/1998 they first discovered an orchid rosette that was much more vigorous than a normal monkey orchid. And only it 2002 it flowered for the first time and they discovered that it was a lady orchid (Orchis purpurea).
In subsequent years they monitored several more lady orchid rosettes and a few others that seemed slightly different but it wasn’t until 2006 when one flowered that we discovered that they had something really quite different and very exciting.

Here is a  plant that had the stature of a lady orchid but the flower colour and to a degree shape of a monkey orchid.
So these lady x monkey orchids exhibit features from both original parent pants, for example the hybrids are much larger and more vigorous than the normal monkey orchid and much closer in form to the lady orchid and predominately the hood is strongly speckled, like that of a lady orchid.
 They also have an earlier flowering period, five days after the lady orchids and one week before the bulk of the monkey orchids.
Met lost of friendly visitors while enjoying the blazing heat of the sun and the wonderful spectacle of the orchids. Thanks to those who kept me company, even if for a short while.

Grizzled Skipper: Hartslock is also home to the particularly scares grizzled skipper a butterfly with a checkered type pattern across its wings and the dingy skipper, a duller and but equally scares butterfly.
Both of which I saw along with plenty of brimstone, speckled wood, green hairstreak, small copper to name just a few.
Small Copper: I could have spent hours exploring the orchid patch but in this beautiful setting, sitting in the sun and gabbing away with the locals. But with the bank holiday traffic on my mind I thought I should make a move.
Green Hairstreak: Big shout out to Chris Raper, the wonderful warden of this wonderful Hartslock Nature Reserve. Thanks for pointing me in the direction of the skippers.

Pasque Flower: (Pulsatilla vulgaris) vulgaris alright, they super bright flowers stand out across the swaths of green grasses of the chalk hill.
The golden yellow anthers at the flower’s centre are a perfect contrast to the velvet-textured purple petals. These are worth travelling miles to see, even if these particular flowers are from an introduces stock.
I look forward to visiting again.