Friday, 29 June 2012

Heath Spotted at Hothfield Heathlands

As a kid it was always Hothfield Common but it's got a smart new name now and is very well managed by the KWT.

I'd been over a few times during the winter to do some landscape photography and was drawn there again by reports of over 1,000 Southern Marsh Orchids on the reserve. I arrived just before 6am and located them shortly afterwards, but there was a problem. The orchids were growing in a marshy area that was a few inches deep in water with even more inches of mud. Furthermore, the resident highland cattle appeared to frequent this area so there was the cow dung to contend with too. I had my walking boots on but it was going to be a 'wellie' job for sure.

I made my way across to the main bog and as I approached, I could see it was covered in Bog Cotton. On getting closer I could make out what I thought were Common Spotted Orchids but on closer inspection, turned out to be Heath Spotted. This was a real bonus as there were thousands of them with many being easily accessible. I spent about an hour photographing them before the wind got so strong as to make things impossible.

Heath spotted orchid flower spike
A trio taken from above
Close-up showing the beautiful flower detail

Back in my wellies

I returned that evening with the appropriate footwear to photograph the Southern Marsh Orchids. I could not lie or sit down so had to squat precariously, ankle-deep in slurry. Focusing was very difficult, even with live view, to the extent that I only managed a few record shots.

Southern Marsh Orchid flower spike
Although rarer than the Heath Spotted, they are not as photogenic, exacerbated by the fact that most of them had 'gone over', with brown tinges appearing on the lower petals.

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