In the teeth of the cold north wind, I didn't expect to find anything interesting on a short walk on the cliffs above Dover's eastern docks. But there was an early Spider orchid, then another, and eventually I counted 40.
All very short, rarely over 2 inches high, sheltering from the chilling wind.I do like these orchids - each one has a distinctive character depending upon the 'face', 'arms' and 'body' which, being rather anthropomorphic are recognisable to our eyes.
This particular one seemed a cheery little chappie. A "Nick Clegg", if you will.
This one, by contrast, is stolid and serious, wearing a tweed jacket.
[Post script - there are seven ESOs on the rifle range at the mon=ment, downwind from last year's colony]
Yesterday I went on an organised walk (unusual for me to do this, but a good way of learning from experts) run by the White Cliffs Countryside Project, through the rarely-visited woods between Alkham and Lydden.
Early Purple Orchids were in flower, and belatedly carpets of Ransomes were just starting to bloom.
But the discovery of the day for me was .....
....Toothwort - just a small colony, sucking away at the roots of a hazel tree. One walker described the plant as feeling like potato buds, with a strange furry texture.
We encountered a large patch of Green Hellebore, which is a plant I've not seen in the wild, and sprigs of Bugle pretended to be blue orchids.