Sunday, 10 May 2015

Bernwood Meadows

We have had the most wonderful morning on a guided walk around Bernwood Meadows. We knew there would be Green-winged Orchids there, but had no idea what a fabulous sight they would make.

Bernwood Meadows are owned and managed by BBOWT and form part of Bernwood Forest. This is an ancient royal hunting forest that dates back to the 11th Century and has been protected since that time. It means that the meadows have never been farmed using modern farming machinery and are about as ancient and untouched as you can get.

We walked through part of the forest to find two large meadows, bursting with beautiful Green-winged orchids. The majority of them were purple, but even these had variations in colour and pattern. All had the distinctive veins on the wing petals, although in the dark purple flowers these can look purple instead of green..

You can clearly see the veins that give the orchid its name


In amongst the purple flowers there were quite a lot of pale pink flowers and even a few white ones. The range of colours amongst the flowers was quite surprising.

Pale pink variety

A brighter pink

Pale pink, showing the green veins

There were a few white orchids in the meadows,
but they still show the green veins
The meadows were beautiful. You could still see the ridges and furrows where they were farmed in the past. The orchids all grew on the tops of the ridges, while Ladies Smock grew in the damper furrows.

There were lots of other wildflowers growing in the meadows and in another month they'll be covered in Common Spotted Orchids. We also saw lots of tiny Adder's-tongue Ferns in amongst the grasses and other plants.
Common Spotted Orchid showing a flower bud

Adder's-tongue Ferns
To top it all off, Bug Mad Girl spotted some Marsh Orchids growing in one boggy patch of the meadow. There were about half a dozen of them and they were very short, which is apparently due to the dry weather. They were a different shape and colour to the Green-winged orchids and didn't have the green veins.
Marsh Orchid

Marsh Orchid
We were also looking for butterflies, but it was a bit cloudy most of the time we were there. We did see a couple of Peacocks, an Orange-tip and a Green-veined White though.

Then we spotted a large beetle larva crossing the path. Bug Mad Girl rescued it and put it out of harms way at the edge of the path. Have just been told it was a Glow-worm larva, which is really exciting!

A lovely morning, in a beautiful medieval meadow, with friendly and informative guides. Another great example of the wonderful work performed by BBOWT.


  1. I saw a glow-worm larvae at Strumpshaw last year. I had no idea what it was at the time and thought it was a caterpillar lol Made my day when I got it ID'd.

    1. We thought it was a huge ladybird larva! Thrilled when we found out what it was. Glow-worms are high on the wish list for this year, so we're half way there already!

  2. The orchids are so beautiful, those are incredible photos! I've not been able to get out to see the wildflowers this spring because of exams so it's really nice to see the photos. I've never seen a Glow-worm larva before, that must have been so exciting!

    1. Thank you - It was one of those places that takes your breath away when you walk through the gate. Absolutely amazing! Very excited to have found a glow-worm larva. Made Bug Mad Girl squeal with delight when we eventually found out what it was!