Monday, July 16, 2012

A Northumberland Endemic.

A trip up to Holy Island was almost thwarted when on arrival JWR announced that he had left his bins in the car - at Alnwick. We almost decided to give up when a plant theory came to mind. And what a fantastic idea, the dunes of Lindisfarne are a botanists dream with lots of rare and scarce species and even a plant so special that it is found nowhere else on the planet. Its a shame we aren't botanists and struggle to identify our flora, but we gave it a go.

The dunes were very wet underfoot, but maybe this was a benefit to wetland plants such as Cotton Grass and the various Orchids.

The Snook, Holy Island clouds of Cotton Grass
 We found many hundreds if not thousands of Marsh Helleborines and full bloom, a fantastic sight.

The flatter areas near Snook House and Tower were covered in Marsh Helleborines.

Marsh Helleborine
 But on the lower slopes of small dunes was the star of the show - the Lindisfarne Helleborine. This was once thought to be a form of Dune Helleborine, but analysis has found it to be different enough to award it species status.

  A new species for both of us, and one that orchid hunters would be well jealous of. A small well hidden plant, we cheated really, because the best way to find one is to look for the tiny wire mesh fences to keep rabbits off.

Lindisfarne Helleborine

Common Spotted Orchid maybe of the form 'alba'?
 Another plant of wet flushes, the Brookweed is very rare in Northumberland being found in only a few locations, including Howick Cliffs but I've not seen it there.

The Round leaved Wintergreen was in good numbers in a dune slack where we usually look for Wrynecks or Shrikes! 
Round leaved Wintergreen
Other plants noted include Common Spotted Orchid, Northern Marsh Orchid, Lesser Spearwort, Eyebright, Common or Seaside Centaury, Piri piri Bur, Burnet Rose, Quaking Grass, Heath Speedwell and a very early small Autumn Gentian.
Dark Green Fritillary
While searching at ground level, a few butterflies were on the wing - 22 Dark Green Fritillary, 12 Small Heath, 3 Ringlet, 2 Small White, 1 Large White, and moths included 23 Yellow Shell, 2 Narrow bordered 5 spot Burnet and 1 6 spot Burnet

An excellent morning out, not bad for someone with optics left behind, its just as well he brought his camera.


abbey meadows said...

I haven't found the time to get up there this year. You don't need your bins for those plants, nice pics Stew.

Killy Birder said...

Really enjoyed that post. I've certainly found that the rain has made the orchids flourish although locally they tend to be Common Spotted or Hybrids, nowt as interesting as the ones you show here. Cheers.

Greenie said...

Stewart ,
There a few species that I would like to seen amongst those .
Especially your 'star' the Lindisfarne Helleborine .
Remember doing the cage routine when I went for the Military Orchid .

Flora said...

Envy oozing out of every pore :-))

Sharon Whitley said...

Love that last photo of the butterflies - would make a lovely painting! I'm from over the other side of the country in North Wales and had never visited the East coast before - last month I took a trip to the Farne Islands - well worth the 4 and a half hour drive there and back - and planning to spend a few days in that area soon to visit Lindisfarne, and for some good walking - following!

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Excellent post Stwart - reminds me of my first job at Formby Point. Never realised that your otrchid had been split from the rare enough already Dune Helleborine, got a couple or three of those on the dunes here in Blackpool but RLW was always my fave.



Stewart said...

Hi all, ta for the comments.Its been a while...

Northumbrian Birding said...

Nice one, It's awhile since I snuck doon the snook in me sneekers !!