As a new orchid summer gets under way, the first orchids to flower are always keenly anticipated by orchid hunters. Chief amongst them are the charismatic (and highly variable) Early Spider Orchids, found only along the south coast of England from Kent to Dorset. Their finest British station is surely on the Dorset coast, where they flower in their many thousands in their favoured locales of herb-rich coastal turf.
Nor are they alone here, for they share their habitats with other orchids besides - Green-winged and Early Purple Orchids are also to be found here, amongst other beautiful wildflowers, including the secretive and sought-after Early Gentian Gentianella amarella ssp anglica, and the indigo blue Chalk Milkwort.
This day trip, in the company of the charismatic and friendly European orchid expert, Dr Richard Bate, promises a wealth of wonderful orchid and wildflower encounters, and many excellent photographic opportunities. Exploring on foot the mosaic of habitats that comprise the extensive and panoramic Durlston Country Park, the pace will be gentle and we'll be taking our time to see what we can find. Early Spider Orchids are prone to some interesting variations, and often reward a second glance! Moreover, at this time of year some of the local reptiles will be emerging from hibernation, so if the weather is fine we stand a chance of watching courting Adders, and basking Slow Worms and Common Lizards. There is always abundant wildlife of all kinds to be seen here on the spectacular Isle of Purbeck, and Richard looks forward to sharing it with you.
Though the pace will never be rushed, a reasonable level of fitness will be required for this day trip. Guests are invited to bring their own picnic lunch with them though, at the end of the day, if they would like to join Richard for his favourite fish and chip supper in Swanage, he will be delighted to have their company!
Guests can choose one or both of the two dates available - 27th or 28th April. Both days will follow the same format though, of course, with the more mobile wildlife we may not expect to see the same things on both days, or at least not in the same places!