Man, oh man
Trip Start Jan 05, 2012
142Trip End Ongoing
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The Ufton Fields reserve in Warwickshire came up several times as a location for Man Orchids which is a species that is not easy to see, partly because they're not common but partly because, well, they're not very easy to see. They're mostly sort of the colour of tall grass and they grow in tall grass.
On arrival at the reserve we realised that we were going to have our work cut out finding the flowers because it was much bigger than we'd perhaps anticipated, with several ponds and small lakes interspersed with pastures and the remains of old limestone quarrying, now well on the way to being reclaimed by nature
We expected to find the orchids in fairly open areas so started off hunting in the first pasture we came to where we found a few examples of common orchids but nothing out of the ordinary. The first highlight though was an insect, not a butterly, a Small Copper which is a species that I used to find in my back garden in Southport when I was a little lad but which I hadn't seen for ages. It didn't stop for long though so we couldn't get a decent photo. There were also several Cinnabar Moths, a day flying moth that is as pretty as any butterfly.
Continuing around the reserve we climbed over a style into a meadow and immediately felt that we were in the right place. The first things we spotted were Twayblade Orchids, almost certainly Common Twayblades. These are actually the commonest orchids found in the UK but they are much less familiar than some of the more dramatic species like the Marsh and Spotted Orchids because they are unremarkable when sen from any distance, although they can grow to a reasonable height. However a close look reveals the rather unusual flower structure, although the name is derived from the large double leaves rather than the flower's petals. There were lots of these around the entrance to the meadow and we soon noticed some Spotted Orchids and a couple of Greater Butterfly Orchids as well (there were actually quite a number of these distributed around the field). However we soon found the Man Orchids because each one has been afforded its own little piece of protection, presumably to prevent nibbling by rabbits and trampling by people.
After admiring the rather odd orchids that were perhaps a little late in flowering this year because of the consistently poor weather since late March we completed the circuit of the reserve, not quite managing to avoid the sharp shower that began when we were a few minutes from the car and then headed for a night out in Shrewsbury.