If our preoccupation with the weather had, hitherto, seemed stereotypically British, that had not been without good cause – our destinations on the preceding two days had been determined wholly by reading the forecast auguries and, with a degree of good judgement, dodging the worst of what the turbulent weather was throwing at the Eastern Mediterranean as a whole.
Today was to prove something of an exception to this, for the entire island was taking a beating, with relentless bands of rain marching across Rhodes throughout the day. We made a brief pit-stop just outside the village for second helpings of Ophrys ferrum-equinum and regis-ferdinandii before braving the weather to drive to Lindos for a spot of sightseeing for those who wanted to see the acropolis there.
(A number of the group were more ambivalent, but the prospect of Lesser Kestrels was, perhaps, a little more enticing. In the event, those of us who made the climb up to the castle also enjoyed distant views of a soggy Nightingale and Sardinian Warblers in the bushes far below us.)
The journey across the island was nothing if not eventful – not least for the discovery of a fine roadside stand of Naked Man Orchids Orchis italica. We made the most of these, and the surrounding bushes of aromatic French Lavender Lavandula stoechas, though the cool temperature and dampness in the air felt decidedly un-Mediterranean.
A roadside grove of trees is normally a reliable and pleasant site at which to see both Loose-flowered Orchid Anacamptis laxiflora and the decidedly less showy Ophrys bombyliflora. The latter, presumably present, were completely submerged beneath a large pool of water that surrounded the trees; and the Loose-flowered Orchids were surrounded by water that precluded an approach any closer than from the road itself. (I’ve cheated here, and used a Loose-flowered Orchid image from a dryer day the previous year…)
Floodwater was becoming something of a theme of the day for, on our return towards our home village, we found a ford that had previously been merely tyre-deep was now a surging torrent rushing across the road. We paused, eyed it nervously, and decided discretion was the better part of valour – turning around, and taking a longer, but safer, route back home.
With some daylight left to play with once back in the village, and with the blue sky finally reasserting itself over the island, we decided to explore the terraces near to the hotel. Whilst we found nothing new, this was a good opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with Ophrys rheinholdii, sicula and omegaifera, more Giant Orchids Himantoglossum robertianum, and the delicate purple flowers of Orchis anatolica – not to mention the gorgeous, subtle flowers of Drooping Star-of-Bethlehem Ornithogalum nutans.
To say the day had been something of a washout would be to disguise the fact that we’d still managed to see no fewer than 13 species of orchid – which is none too shabby! That said, the challenging conditions meant we had only added two new species to the trip list. Tomorrow, we would have to try a little harder…
NB – I should be leading the Orchid Odyssey tour in Rhodes for Greenwings this week – due to the coronavirus outbreak that’s been regretfully postponed for 2020. Instead, I’d like to invite you all to join me on a virtual orchid-hunting tour there, with daily posts throughout the week. I hope you enjoy them.