Monday, 4 July 2016

July 4th A Secret Location and Harrison's Wood

Lizard Orchid
Lizard orchids are extremely rare in the UK. There are only a small number of them found in only a dozen sites mainly dotted across southern England. So when word came to me about a single individual plant growing in a location somewhere north of Norwich, I really wanted to see it. The only thing is, the location was being kept a secret and it took me some asking around until I finally got directions to it. As this is the only lizard orchid (that I know of) in Norfolk, I am not allowed to tell you where the location is to prevent illegal orchid collectors from finding out.

Lizard Orchid (up close)
Thanks to a friend's directions, Norfolk's only lizard orchid was surprisingly easy to find. It stands out like a sore thumb, standing tall and alone in the short grass next to a large bush. From afar, it looked like a dried up weed. Up close, however, it looks more interesting. Lizard orchids are so called because the florets look like little lizards. Using some imagination, the 'hood' at the top of each floret is the head of the lizard, below that is the body with some legs and the long spur twisting downwards is the tail. It also has purple spots and streaks, adding a splash of colour to this mostly green plant. After a few photos, we decided to leave. We were only there for a matter of minutes, but it was enough time to reflect on how privileged we were to see this single plant. It is like finding the Holy Grail in the most unlikely of locations, it is that precious.

Harrison's Wood
Leaving the lizard orchid behind, Mum then took me to Harrison's Wood, a new site that was recently open to the public a couple of months ago. We obviously have never been here before, but we do drive past it a lot as it is located not far from the Tesco's supermarket we go to and a garden centre near Sprowston. It isn't a big place, just enough for a short walk. Though sited next to a busy road, it seems peaceful and full of trees that makes you feel like you're in a natural place, making you forget what is just outside its boundaries. It was a nice day and I decided to wear shorts, but this turned out to be a bad idea at this place. I was trying my best to identify what was possibly a spotted flycatcher darting about amongst a curtain of needles of a fir tree alongside some long-tailed tits, when I felt my exposed legs being ravaged by biting insects. It was unbearable! I forgot to bring any insect repellent, so I decided to abandon the walk and made a hasty retreat. On the way out, I saw a jay and I believe heard a tawny owl calling (not hooting) as if it was disturbed by the jay squawking.

Speckled Wood
Large Red Damselfly
The site's pond
Red Admiral
A scruffy Robin

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