Slow is the new fast…


Undeniably it is quieter than normal birdwise in the dunes when the temperature soars – scabby looking Mipits, Stonechats, Linnets, Whitethroats and the odd Skylark, but luckily if you keep your eyes to the ground (rather than the skies) there are some gems to be found, even if all things botanical are running a fortnight late this year.


Can’t argue with the curtisii form of Dune Pansy, a superb plant, and my first flowering Dune Helleborines of the year at Ainsdale today.


This was lucky as I had a husband and wife team of crack orchid-lovers out on the dunes with me (a pleasure Elinor and Phil), and they’d come especially for Dune Helleborine. A quick search yesterday revealed plenty of plants, but none flowering in favoured spots, so I was relieved to be able to show ’em off today, the flowers opening once the sun had hit ’em a bit.
Last year the Dune Helleborines were flowering on July 1st, but like I said, things are running late this year.
At least nine species of orchid in a few hours: Bee, Pyramidal, Early Marsh, Southern Marsh, Common Twayblade, Marsh Helleborine, Green Flowered Helleborine, Dune Helleborine and Common Spotted Orchid, with the coccinea form of Early Marsh, and despite the amount of hybridisation in marsh orchids in the dunes, possibly, just possibly, a North Marsh…
A good day, if exceptionally hot, with plenty of other botanical stars including Bog Pimpernel, Seaside Centaury, Round Leaved Wintergreen and Grass of Parnassus.
Got home and cracked open a cold one, ambling down to the greenhouse, where I was delighted to find a Banded Demoiselle trapped against a window – garden dragonfly tick!
Caught it, took a crappy out-of-focus record shot in one of my moth holding jars then released it gently onto a leaf, primed the camera for a great close-up shot….and promptly watched it fly off to the south before I released the shutter…


Clearly reports of their range expansion in the area are correct.