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Pierrepont monitoring, 18th June 2011

by Brian Lavers

Four of us assembled to complete another sample count of Southern Marsh Orchids on the Wey Meadow SSSI (site of special scientific interest). Despite some heavy and disruptive showers the task was completed in good order.

Countryside Restoration Trust volunteers line up to start counting orchids.

Line abreast at the start of another section of the surveyed area.

The same sample half hectare of the meadow as last year was marked out using tapes and surveying poles and then each quarter of the area walked line abreast as we counted the orchids.

An orchid in full bloom is easier to count, as Countryside Restoration Trust volunteers discovered.

An orchid in full colours and thus easy to count.

Our count, conducted on almost exactly the same day as last year, produced a total for the whole sample area of 114 orchids, amounting, most surprisingly, to just 6% of last year’s total. While last year almost every flower was in full bloom this year most were well into decline – thus requiring a more painstaking search. Clearly, this year’s exceptionally dry and warm Spring has had an impact.

Despite the weather an enjoyable exercise on what is, from almost all monitoring points of view, one of the most interesting areas of the farm.

Countryside Restoration Trust volunteers also report that an orchid in decline is harder to spot.

An orchid in decline is more difficult to find.