I’ve been travelling around Shetland lately showing people the stunning wildlife we have here in the islands midsummer – plenty of breeding seabirds and waders, seals, and Otters of course. That said, I’ve made a conscious effort this summer to photograph a particular family I’ve always had a soft spot for, the orchids. Having lived in Kent for a while, I was spoiled for choice back in the day – wonderful species like Lizard, Lady, Monkey, and Early and Late Spider Orchids to name but a few were literally on my doorstep when I lived at the foot of the downs.
Nowadays, here in Shetland, I still have orchids on the doorstep – my fields are full of Heath Spotted Orchids, and where I’ve allowed damp banks to recover from prior overgrazing I have my first colonising Northern Marsh Orchids. These are the most numerous orchids found here in the islands, but there are others…
It’s been an exciting time lately, as besides seeing the well-known (albeit localised) Early Purple and Frog Orchids, I’ve also caught up with two new species for me in the islands – Lesser Twayblade, and Early Marsh Orchid.
The former was thanks to a kind tip-off from a sharp-eyed visitor to Unst (twayblades are very small, subtly coloured, and easily overlooked), and the latter were all our own doing – a new, previously unrecorded colony, and a long way from any other known colonies. Not only a pioneering orchid then, but a very beautiful one too – for now, these are my new favourites. Their flowers’ colouration reminds me of raspberry ripple ice cream – and that’s far from a bad thing!