Tuesday, 29 April 2014

A quick trip to Upwood Meadows NNR

I'd arranged to pick Pete up from a meeting at Woodwalton Fen, and as we were so near to Upwood meadows we made a quick detour. I particularly wanted to photograph the heath dog-violets Viola canina subsp. canina, and we soon found plenty flowering in the north-west corner of Bentley Meadow. They are the last of the dog-violets to come into flower, and have a characteristic slate-blue colour, and a very blunt yellowish spur, as well as more oval lance-shaped leaves. They are classified as Near Threatened on the GB RedList, and are only found in heaths, acid grassland and fens.

And while I was there I couldn't resist a few photographs of the green-winged orchids Anacamptis morio which are flowering profusely. This is the harlequin of orchids, found flowering in meadows in late spring. Its Latin name, morio, means 'fool' and refers to the jester-like motley of its green and purple flowers. It gets its common name from the green or bronze coloured delicate green veining which lines the flower's hood. This gives it the appearance of having green wings. Unimproved grassland is the habitat most favoured by green-winged orchids and in Cambridgeshire it is restricted to a few ancient undisturbed hay meadows and pastures on the heavy boulder clay lands. 

The adder's-tongue Ophioglossum vulgatum was also proliferating, with several very large patches, holding hundreds, if not thousands, of fronds. And we found clustered stonewort Tolypella glomerata in the main pond. Not bad for a fifteen minute visit!

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