Thursday, 22 June 2017

#30Dayswild Day 22 - Tiny musk orchids and huge Roman snails

The weather had finally broken and it felt fresh and breezy as I walked around Grangelands and the Rifle Range this morning. The orchids are always fantastic and you can find common spotted, chalk fragrant, pyramidal and the occasional bee orchid out on the chalk grassland. It was another, very special orchid that I was keen to see this morning though. The musk orchid is one of our smallest orchids and is listed as nationally scarce, being found at just a handful of sites in the South East of England.

They're tiny and green, blending in to the grass and other wildflowers. You could easily walk right past them without even seeing them if you didn't know they were there.
Using my finger to show how small they are
They seem to be having a great year this year, as I counted over 100 growing in a small area.

We'd had a few minutes of rain and a rumble of thunder on our walk to school, so I thought there might be some Roman snails around. The rain had hardly made the grass damp though and I only saw one snail braving the dry conditions. They're our largest land snail and their shells are the size of a  golf ball, making them considerably larger than a garden snail. They're thought to have been brought here by the Romans as a source of food and live on chalk grassland along the ancient Ridgeway.

Roman snail

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