Monday, 21 July 2014

Another dodgy Helleborine

OK,  I  deserted Waldridge again.

Having seen the 'Tyne' Helleborine last week and having a day off toda, y I decided to go and have a look at it's cousin Young's Helleborine. This species was first discovered in 1976 and is very closely related to the Broad-leaved Helleborine which varies a fair bit. Indeed, it may only be a variant of this species,and one theory is that it is a hybrid between Broad-leaved and Tyne.  The only differences in the flowers are the lip and colour of the bloom.  The cup is more shallow, and the lip forms a pointed arrow-shaped epichile coming out from the cup. The flowers are pale green to cream in colour. It is very rare with only a few sites in Scotland and South Northumberland. Scientists, as usual, differ in opinions as to its origins but if it is a true species,  it is one of very few endemic to the UK.

So off I went to Killingworth and found the orchid within minutes. I spent a fair while on my hands and knees looking at them, ignoring the dog-walkers funny looks as they passed by. 

Young's Helleborine

Afterwards, a look around the lake produced Great-crested Grebe and Common Tern and several broods of Coot

Coot and chicks

Around the edge was Flowering Rush, not a common plant in the north-east but probably introduced here and a few Common Darter.

Flowering Rush

As I was close by to another of the Helleborine's sites, Gosforth Park Nature Reserve I had a meander over. This is a private nature reserve owned by the Natural History Society of Northumbria and is open exclusively to members. I have been a member for a  long time but it's a long time since I have visited here. I called in at the bird feeders and watched the usual woodland species there including Great-spotted Wodpecker, Nuthatch, Treecreeper and a couple of Blackcap.

Great-spotted Woodpecker


 Into the reserve and on the pool in the fields to the east was a Little Egret, a nice surprise.

Little Egret (and Lapwing)

Though I mdidn't know where to look for the Youn'ds Helleborine I found 3 remarkably quickly so proceeded to the lake to see idf the Bittern reportedly still present was on show. It wasn't.A few butterfflies were around including a couple of Common Blue in an open patch by the lake which also had Scaly Male Fern (Dryopteris affinis subsp. borreri).

Common Blue

Scaly Male Fern (Dryopteris borreri)

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