We have embarked upon a few orchid hunts following various publications and they have been, what shall I say … a little disappointing? The Indre departement seems to have an enviable reputation for orchids and Francine even has a book on them. Perhaps it’s a poor year for orchids. Alternatively, our timing hasn’t been great.
First, there was our orchid field south of Rosnay which was admittedly very pleasant but which yielded only two species, Tongue Orchids (Serapias lingua) and Lesser Butterfly Orchids (Platanthera bifolia), though both were in large numbers.
Second, we drove to a village where there was reportedly an orchid walk but we could find nowhere to abandon ship with any degree of safety or confidence, so ended up just going shopping instead.
Today, we tried again and followed instructions to a stretch of road near Saulnay, published as an orchid hotspot, where we did manage to park and began scouring the verges. At first, orchids were not jumping out at us but we did begin finding individual plants along both sides of the road. They almost all appeared to be examples of the same single species but Francine also found a pair of Common Twayblades (Listera ovata). [Here’s a macro shot showing the tiny little flowers.] I don’t think either of us would’ve considered this a hotspot. Nonetheless, conditions were pleasant and we sauntered while Francine snapped away happily.
On our way there, we’d passed a spot with a track leading off, a spot that I recognised as having been described to me as an orchid area by a contact back at home. It looked just like it did on Google Earth. Having scoured our verges, we returned to it, parked and began exploring the track. We started well with a Lizard Orchid (Himantoglossum hircinum) beside our parking spot, although there was an irritating barbed wire fence behind it marring the background.
Our track joined another at a T-junction. Francine took one arm and I, the other. We continued to find nothing. Francine joined me and eventually we came across an opening into a field which Francine entered and I heard her tell-tale “ah ha”. She’d found some more Lesser Butterfly Orchids.
There were other pink-purple orchids which, along with those on our first roadside stop, Francine thinks/wonders/hopes might be the endemic Brenne Orchid (Dactylorhiza brennensis), though for identification purposes she is trying to work from a French description that she’s having to translate. They are known to hybridize so a definitive species name may prove to be elusive and we may end up having to settle for just Dactylorhiza sp. Back at home base, an English description will hopefully prove more helpful. If it is the Brenne Orchid, Francine will be very happy. 😉
After lunch we made a short bike ride, 5kms or so, to La Maison du Parc, which has a decent dragonfly pond at its rear. Just for the record, to be added to my map later, this is what we found there.
- Southern Emerald (Lestes barbarus)
- Dainty Damselfly (Coenagrion scitulum)
- Blue Emperor (Anax imperator)
- Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa)
- White-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum albistylum)
- Broad Scarlet (Crocothemis erythraea)
We made our return cycle ride in the dry but as we were having a reviving shower, the heavens opened and the sky lit up with the occasional lightning flash. It’s OK in the late afternoon/evening, though, especially if the BBQ is out of commission anyway.