A tale of nature, wildlife and birding from Cheshire, North Wales and across the globe....

A tale of nature, wildlife and birding from Cheshire, North Wales and across the globe....

Monday, 27 July 2015

Lesser Twayblades - Cliburn Moss, Cumbria (6th June 2015)

After spending the morning at Sandscale Haws back at the beginning of June, the afternoon was spent making the journey over to Cliburn Moss near Penrith to see if the Lesser Twayblades were still flowering. Having visited the reserve on numerous occasions before in search of both the Creeping Lady’s Tresses that grow there and the Lesser Twayblades, I was already well familiar with the site, and quickly found my way to the area the orchids were flowering in after following some excellent directions that were absolutely spot on.

I quickly spotted several individuals in front of a Silver Birch, with another few plants scattered around in roughly a five metre area away from the tree – like the Coralroots it was simply a case of getting your eye in to spot them all. As is usually the case with orchids, once you spot one, there are usually several more in the immediate vicinity.
Lesser Twayblade - Cliburn Moss, Cumbria
Lesser Twayblade - Cliburn Moss, Cumbria
Lesser Twayblade - Cliburn Moss, Cumbria
Absolutely tiny in size, each plant was no more than 10cm and due to the coppery-brown colouration that blended in so well with the pine needle covered floor and the fact many plants had their leaves eaten away, they were very tricky to spot indeed.
Cliburn Moss, Cumbria
There's a Lesser Twayblade in here somewhere......
Cliburn Moss, Cumbria
I’ve had a grid reference to the spot the Lesser Twayblades were flowering in on my previous visit, but being slightly too late that time and not heading far enough in to the trees where the plants seemed to grow best amongst, we sadly didn’t spot any on that occasion.

With two distinct leaves at the base, Lesser Twayblades are like miniature versions of the larger and much more abundant Common Twayblade – the double basal leaf structure is distinctive of these two species.
Lesser Twayblade - Cliburn Moss, Cumbria
The two leaves at the base are clear to see
Each rust coloured flower column also had numerous individual florets in the shape of tiny elves – amazingly dainty and exceptionally fragile in miniature form!
Lesser Twayblade - Cliburn Moss, Cumbria
Lesser Twayblade - Cliburn Moss, Cumbria
Another northerly orchid with populations found in abundance throughout the upland heather moors of Scotland, plants can also be found growing in suitable habitat in North and mid-Wales as well as the northern English counties, with some populations also occurring in wet woodland and native pinewoods (like Cliburn).  

Usually found growing actually underneath heather bushes in some cases, it was also a relief that the flowers were standing proudly out in the open! Lesser Twayblade is a species I have wanted to see for some time, and it was great to see them at their best before the flowers went over. 
Lesser Twayblade - Cliburn Moss, Cumbria
Lesser Twayblade - Cliburn Moss, Cumbria
Lesser Twayblade - Cliburn Moss, Cumbria

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