Friday, 14 May 2010


Visited this private back garden next to Victoria Esplanade in West Mersea to admire the display of green-winged orchids on Friday 14th. I've visited this site several times in recent years, (except last year) and it's still a fantastic sight to behold, marvelling at several hundred wild orchids flourishing in a little back garden!

Most of the spikes were a deep purple-pink colour, although this one pictured above had paler flowers. The orchid is named after the green-veins on the sepals that form the hood on each flower.

No count was made of the number of spikes flowering but there were probably 400+ spikes on show. It seemed as if I timed my visit right, just at the peak of their flowering as there signs on quite a few spikes of flowers just starting to fade. The lady owner told me how the flowers were almost a month late appearing on the lawn this spring, presumably due to the cold winter, and then suddenly they shot up with the sunny weather of the last month.

This undisturbed back garden beside the Esplanade is located only 50 metres away from a block of flats known as Orchid Court, that were built in the mid-eighties on a site full of green-winged orchids. Up until 1985 it was estimated that 15,000 orchids flourished on this old pasture only 0.4 ha in size. Not surprisingly this little site made national headlines when the orchids were sprayed off to make way for the new flats.

Hidden amongst the green-winged orchids are a few common spotted orchids, although the leaves of this plant seem exceptionally spotty. These will flower next month with pale pink spikes.

Earlier in the morning I visited the Rewsalls marshes including the small beach, pictured above, near the East Mersea Youth Camp. The erosion has eaten into the beach a lot over the last winter and the clump of sea hollies is much reduced. Ringed plovers have usually nested on the beach here in the past but not this year.

Other birds noted in the area including either side of the Coopers Beach caravan site were cuckoo, turtle dove, corn bunting, 3 male reed buntings, 4 singing sedge warblers, 5 singing reed warblers and 20 common whitethroats.

The first hairy dragonfly of the spring at the park was seen and also one or two orange-tips, speckled woods and small white butterflies.

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