NEW Layout: Our Site Map is now ON A SEPARATE PAGE;  we are keen to bring more News and Updates to the fore. Remind us if we don’t update it regularly! This HOME PAGE will now be used for current or attractive or relevant new data. Use SiteMap to find a specific Page. is a personal initiative exploring where we live with many photographs and years of recording. Of course, we are pleased if people appreciate our work and (by and large) feel free to use it. We  take a traditional Natural History approach to observing and recording what we see — and sometimes this gels with what other people are doing. We see our role largely as presenting data in an attractive format and getting excited about rare or unusual species and worried about losing others from our National Ecology.
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Summary of Results for 2021 1. S. romanzoffiana
CONCLUSION 2021:  DAILY RECORDS 2021: PREVIOUS YEARS: SITE MAP 2. Orchids near Roscommon Click on Compass points. 3. Winter Encounters 21/22
EAST Bee Orchid Birdsnest Orchid
WEST Marsh Orchids Fragrant Orchids
NORTH Small White & Greater Butterfly Orchid
Green Winged Orchid Dense-flowered Orchid  SOUTH
Identifying Spring flowering ORCHIDS… This refers to ONE!

A: Spring orchids of the north west, April to June.

Spring Marsh orchids are always puzzling and very variable. Of course our first love in this area are the rare and beautiful orchids — especially those ones that are well represented in Ireland. Being on the edge of a continental mass we inevitably have a lesser range of species but living in a very diverse country there are habitats to suit the needs of many different species. For many years we have been observing the needs and life story of Spiranthes romanzoffiana. This is a ‘rare’  orchid but plentiful on ‘our patch’ Here the study is not about identification but about survival and how these plants replenish themselves every year. The Marsh Orchids however are not so simple and easy to identify; there are tiers of species, subspecies and varieties. Within these are numerous colours and different choices of lifestyle. The species shown left is normally red or purplish; this is an albino form, common enough in the Dactylorhiza family to which a majority of Irish orchids belong. We now have a large pictorial view of many of the varieties in this large group — commonly grouped together as ‘Marsh Orchids. Follow this link to explore the brilliant colours and sheer variety of shapes that makes this a difficult group to understand. Yes, the professional botanists, always have definitive ideas about classification but, sometimes, these decisions may change or be changed.

B: Spiranthes romanzoffiana 2022

This will be our fifteenth year studying these wonderful plants. To date we have investigated: Distribution mainly in North Connacht. Life Cycle: images of their overwintering habits have been provided to the Natural History Museum (London) Restocking our population from North America via the Jet Stream. The embryology of their seed and its ability to survive very cold upper air temperature.

Many Goals Achieved

Survey 2022: 666 specimens. In 2022 all the well known sites were visited several times. All sites had good numbers; some sites had minor damage and a few sites had serious damage as cattle were released onto shore with maturing Orchids. 2022  has been rewarding; slight reduction in Numbers but huge improvement in seed production and lateral budding on existing plants. Survey 2022: 1. Numbers, Locations, Many Photos…  2. Spiranthes Reproduction in Ireland (Mayo) 3. SEED Production study over 3 Dry months! (Please go to bottom of Page to see Seed Examples) We know where to look in established nurseries and we can sometimes predict where hitherto unrecorded colonies may appear.

C: Later flowering species… Spiranthes spiralis and others.

There are a few other species we want to promote. These are dispersed geographically and their season ends in August with Spiranthes romanzoffiana’s cousin, the Autumn’s Lady’s Tresses (Spiranthes spiralis) which come and go very easily and may appear in vast numbers if a location is right. These may be ’cousins’ they but have a different lifestyle, overwintering overground, mass colonisation in habitats that suit them perfectly  — dunes, golf courses, etc . (S. romanzoffiana habitually lives within 40cm above average water level and, despite rumours, they are hardly ever found away from water. Stories of growing in bogs might have some truth but is not part of their lifestyle.) This year, in the Autumn, it would be nice to go to Sligo and Mayo and look for the patterns in their distribution. They may shed seed locally but there is also some evidence of aerial distribution, this time on a local scale. It is all very fascinating and it is rewarding to add to the pool of knowledge of spiralis  as we have done for romanzoffiana! We prefer to get to know a species intimately rather than just tick records off a list. Getting to know S. romanzoffiana has been a rewarding experience and has brought us contacts through Europe and America with occasional visitors travelling to Ireland to view this unknown European. (It is an American species.) BUT, the Autumn’s Lady’s Tresses is not an American species and it seems coincidental that they occur in such vast numbers on our western seaboard?
The strange competition between the Eider and the Great Black backed  Gull
NOW October already and feeling a bit Wintry — a good time, perhaps, to catch up on writing — but our hearts tell us to go out adventuring whenever the wet weather abates and the late Autumn sun shows through. So this is Strandhill, Sligo, and a few gulls were stealing from 5 Eiders. Tide was filling and a channel near the tip of the dunes was getting deeper — too deep for the gulls which had resorted to attacking and bombing any Eider bouncing up to the surface and trying to steal their catch by landing on top of the duck!
Wildwest this year has made a big drive to try and come to grips with Marsh Orchid classification. We are taking it in small steps and look on morphology and habitat as important features in naming a specimen being assessed. We have taken numerous photographs fro, several lakes and have put them side by side and looked for the fine details that define them. These are all Dactylorhiza (like the fine white Heat Spotted orchid (BELOW). The LINK Below will bring you to a large site (covering all Irish Spring Orchids where we have arranges the Marsj Orchids in blocks called.. D, incarnata, D. pulchella and D. coccinea

There are so many variants/varieties of Orchids some complex some simple…

Image above is a Common Spotted Orchid but this is a white version of the regular pink/lilac colours of the two Spotted Orchid species. (Annaghmore Marl Lake)
In the paragraph above we refer to the late flowering Autumn Lady’s Tresses, but before they flower, there is another beautiful white orchid, the Greater Butterfly orchid which all three images portray. This is becoming quite a rare plant as more and more limestone marginal land is being grazed. Grazing or fertilising such areas as fertiliser will cause heavy grass growth and suffocate orchid growth (orchids are species of marginal land). We have recently surveyed the area involved and due to careful management by the owner, the numbers of this increasingly threatened species are increasing in her area. But other hills in the region have lost similar clusters of this very attractive species. However, on another part of the Kesh/ Bricklieve slopes is being protected by exclusion of animals at the time of flowering.

Research and Conservation

There are a variety of instruments used in the past that are now being planned, whereby protection of biodiversity and farming activity can go hand in hand. We believe that this is the ideal way to go, as everybody wants to see the country remain healthy and attractive and we all need to survive especially in small rural areas where there may be no other opportunities to make a living. WE hope to find out what exactly these proposals entail and how we can contribute in terms of research and information so that landowners may be able to encourage whatever biodiversity is on their property, rather than pursue a difficult path of reclamation which will quickly remove all biodiversity particular to that area.

More Information anon…

Look at these images and ,if you see big flamboyant white flowers (often quite tall) peering up through the rough grassland, then you are looking at a site that is probably rich in rare plants and animals.
Greater Butterfly Orchid, Plantathera chlorantha This plant can be tall, prominent and emotionally rewarding when seen on a limestone cliff or a mountain pasture, or in large numbers as in the present l;ocation.

Summer species to be considered include:

Frog Orchid Fragrant Orchids Marsh Helleborine Bog Orchid Dark Red Helleborine Green Flowered Helleborine ……. TOP of PAGE SITE MAP + + + +
A: Work for 2022
S. romanzoffiana 2022 numbers now coming in. View GREEN BOX on opposite side of Page +