20/05/2018 South Cumbria

The Lady's-slipper Orchid: (Cypripedium calceolus) This is a very striking and special plant,  it is the flower's characteristic yellow slipper-shaped pouch that gives this species its name.
These pouches attract bees which, once inside, can only get out through the narrow opening where they either collect or deposit pollen.
Not only is is special due to its beauty, but it is known to be Britain's rarest flowering plant.
Due to over collection with sellers and enthusiasts the Lady's-slipper orchid population decline resulting it being declared extinct by 1917.
This little gem can be found at Gait Barrows, a National Nature Reserve (NNR) in Lancashire near the South Cumbria boarder. Where there has been huge efforts to reintroduce this rare orchid.

Gait Barrows is a fantastic reserve that also has Duke of Burgundy butterflies, Angular Solomon's-seal (Polygonatum odoratum) and herb Paris (Paris quadrifolia) which was in full leaf near about 10 yards from the information sign and gate.

The only negative is the number of ticks!!! they are everywhere.

Fly Orchid: (Ophrys insectifera) About 5 miles north you reach the South Cumbria border and cross over in to a lovely small called Milnthorpe  (this is where Dawn went to school).

Here there is a site whcih is perfect for another one of my most anticipated orchids, the fly orchid.

These are typically found on alkaline, limestone soils and cleverly mimics a fly. It does this so that male flies are attracted to it, and are duped into trying to mate with it!

During this attempted mating, the orchid can deposit some pollen onto the fly, and when it flies off, probably with a feeling of disappointment. And will eventually transfer the pollen onto the next orchid so fertilizing the flower.

Clever stuff eh?

This small area besides a busy road was a treasure trove with several fly orchid spikes, cowslips and bunches of common twayblades.

Huge thanks again to my orchid guru Dr Richard bate.

Common Twayblades: (Neottia ovata) I recently read in a Plantlife article that Britain’s roadside verges are home to more than 700 species of wild plants, one in eight of which (12%) are threatened with extinction or heading in that direction.
I guess that some of these grass verges are effectively fragments of wildflower-rich ancient hay meadows and grasslands, most of which have been lost through the countryside since the 1930s, while coastal plants have exploited motorways and A-roads which are salted in winter.
Councils and local government need educating on this as I see the mowing of road verges earlier each year and watch in amazement as species rich habitat (in-comparison to the land around it) is mowed down. Which only gives early flowers a chance to set seed before they are chopped down, and later plants struggle to survive under the cuttings left behind.
Still, this place looked safe as the manicured grass verges remained away from this special site.
Tick: Although I didn't get bittern,  I still found two of these horrid creatures on me and my camera equipment.