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Thursday, 18 June 2009

Orchid Meadow bites the dust?


Yesterday, I conducted a survey of a small area of land in North Lowestoft of just 1.62 hectares of "waste ground" which last year held incredible numbers of over 3,000 Southern Marsh Orchids and also 20 or so Spotted Orchid for good measure too.
To see these many orchids out in flower with their gorgeous deep purple flowers providing a feast for the eye in the middle of June is truly a sight to behold.
It is one of the many wonders of nature and was recently voted no.17 in a recent BBC poll of top wildlife spectacles.
However, on conducting my survey this year it was immediately apparent that there were far fewer spikes this year, 2/3 less to be precise.
I counted 868 spikes of Southern Marsh orchid with 24 Spotted Orchid and around 30 hybrid Southern Marsh X Spotted Orchid.
Why is this? There are two reasons firstly, the site is rapidly drying out and where there were ponds, puddles and wet patches there is just dry meadow, certainly not prime conditions for a wet loving marsh orchid. Secondly, there has been the rapid encroachment of bramble and scrub covering around a third of the area since last year.
What can be done about it? I have contacted the Suffolk Wildlife Trust in the hope that either the area can be properly managed to the benefit of wildlife and people or in the last resort the plants can be relocated to a protected area nearby.
My advice is to go and see them now why you still can. You may never again get the chance to wander through a meadow covered with Southern Marsh Orchids in North Lowestoft again.


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