At the first sensible opportunity, Francine was go up to base camp on the Bernia to comb the edges of the roadside for orchids. Today was that first sensible opportunity so off we set.
We parked near the entirely wood-fired restaurant and began searching. It wasn’t easy, a start was slow in coming, but we did eventually find some examples of Ophrys. I’ve chosen my phraseology carefully because Francine has been tearing her ever so curly hair out with the identification conundrum. There are lots of Ophryses to choose from, many looking pretty similar. Just to make it more interesting, the markings vary considerably so it can be a tad difficile to know just what you’re looking at. To keep you on toes, they probably hybridize, too. Great!
After due consideration and looking decidedly thin on top, Francine seems comfortable that this particular example is a Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera). I love it to death; it looks like a little chap lying on his back chuckling because his tummy is being tickled. Hardly a scientific description but it seems to sum it up to me. Glorious.
Now, compare and contrast. There were others that were not, perhaps, Bee Orchids. I must apologize for this photographic effort, hardly in the same class ‘cos it’s taken on my new travel lens – nothing like as sharp as Francine’s macro job. Anyway, we (i.e. Francine) think this is a Woodcock Orchid (Ophrys scolopax). It does look quite different but remember the variation and the hybridization tendency. Awkward little beggars.
Fortunately there were some easier-to-identify old favourites up there too in the shape of Pyramidal Orchids. However, since they were only just bursting forth, I’m not convinced that I’d have recognized some of them. I did recognize this one, though, with just a few flowers open.
I was thinking that I might take up flowers, which have the advantage that they don’t fly away when you try to photograph them, unlike dragonflies. However, if they are this tricksy, maybe I should stick to what I know. Still, everyone gotta start somewhere.