At the edge of our village lies a disused clunch (and coprolite) pit, unworked since the beginning of the 20th Century. It is a relative small affair compared to others nearby (see for instance blogger Jonathan Spain’s account of the history of South Cambs. clunch pits). It is fairly isolated, being surrounded largely by productive farm land. But as with all abandoned open cast mines, nature has reclaimed it and clothed the bare chalk. In fact, with a little local management and grass cutting, nature has outdone herself, because the pit is now filled with floral treasures …. of the Orchid kind.
So I took a wander up to the quarry today to see if the wild orchids were out yet and I was in luck. They are looking fantastic and I have never seen them so numerous. There are four kinds in the quarry in flower now: spotted, bee, man and twayblade. The view across the pit was tinged with the pink from the spikes of common spotted orchids, Dactylorhiza fuchsii.
Looking more closely however, I would say that the Twayblades, Neottia ovata, were better represented and certainly covered a more extensive area.
Man Orchids, Orchis anthropophora, were fewer on the ground, but with their hoods were easier to spot.
And scattered just here and there were the dramatic Bee Orchids, Ophrys apifera:
These wild orchids are growing in amongst a rich tapesty of other chalk-loving wildflowers such as:
Common Milkwort, Polygala vulgari, which range in colour from dusky purples to blue:
All in all, the old chalk pit is a wonderful place to wander or walk the dog and June is an excellent time to see the orchids there.