Monday 28 June 2021

Morris's Wainscot and Marsh Fragrant Orchid

Morris's Wainscot - near Culverhole Point. So chuffed to find this - a very rare species found only along a short stretch of coast, roughly between Sidmouth, Devon and Black Ven, near Charmouth in Dorset. I was photographing Diamond-backs when it flushed. Fortunately it landed close-by and settled. In flight it was very white, and my first thought was that it was going to be one of the Grass-veneers. Many thanks to Barry Henwood for confirming the id. I'd almost written it off as a very worn Small Dotted Buff.

After work I walked from Seaton to Culverhole Point - a long trudge along energy-sapping pebbles but so worth it with my target, Marsh Fragrant Orchid, found along with a host of Marsh Helleborines and Southern Marsh Orchids. Also noted - plenty of Wood Whites, Hummingbird Hawkmoth, Peregrine, Bee Orchid and Common Spotted Orchid. Additionally - loads of Sea Kale, Rest Harrow and Brookweed, plus Ivy Broomrape, Yellow Wort, Broad-leaved everlasting Pea and Wild Carrot.

Marsh Fragrant Orchid - just one found on Culverhole Point but it looked great and smelled fantastic!

Fragrant Orchid has been split into three different species - Chalk, Heath and Marsh. They all look pretty much the same but grow in different conditions. It's interesting to compare this with the hundreds of Chalk Fragrants Kev and I saw in Hampshire on Saturday. They were all well into flowering or even just past their best whereas this Marsh Fragrant is yet to fully open. To my eye this seems less pink and a little more mauve. It was growing in a wet 'flash' on the landslip.

Wild Carrot.

I was fully focused on finding Marsh Fragrant Orchid so to find dozens of Marsh Helleborine flowering on Culverhole Point was a brilliant surprise. They're just gorgeous.

Common Spotted Orchid.

Twin-barred Knot-horn Homoeosoma sinuella.

Bee Orchids provided a back-up cast to Marsh Fragrant, Southern Marsh, Common Spotted Orchid and Marsh Helleborine. What a place!

Some odd orchids amongst the Southern Marsh - perhaps some hybirds involverd?

A plain and very pale Southern Marsh or hybrid?

A densely-flowered and very fulsome Marsh Helleborine.

Yellow Wort.

Lots of  Diamond-backs on Culverhole Point. Good numbers of Silver Y and a Hummingbird Hawkmoth also pointed to ongoing immigrant activity. This pair of diamond-backs is resting on Sea Kale.

Wasp species - possibly Box-headed Mason Wasp Gymnomerus laevipes - thank you Nick.

Southern marsh Orchid.

Marmalade Hoverfly on Wild Carrot.

 White-legged Damselfly - stopped off to look at these on the Axe.


  1. Great post Matt. It's years since I've walked out there. I don't recall seeing anything like that many orchids, but I wouldn't have had much idea what I was looking at anyway. I might have to take a long lunch break sometime soon... 😊

    There are some amazing ammonite-encrusted slabs out that way too, though perhaps further towards Lyme? Hope the naturists were discreet. 😉

    1. Thank you Gav - well worth the walk - an absolutely gorgeous place made even better by the lack of people. The Marsh Helleborines alone are worth the trudge. Mercifully no nudists yesterday. Suspect sunny weekends will bring 'em out. Never a good look carrying a camera and bins on a nudist beach. Good luck if you go! Matt.

  2. Lovely post Matt. Nice to see a few insects amongst the botany :)
    the Morris's Wainscot is fab - very jealous of that and well spotted. I wonder if the wasp (having had a quick look in a book or two) is Gymnomerus laevipes (Box-headed Mason Wasp)

  3. Hi Nick - many thanks. Would thoroughly recommend Culverhole Point - not only are the flowers amazing but it's heaving in insects - moths, butterflies and dragonflies - think you'd enjoy it. Hope to see you soon. Matt.

  4. Wonderful selection of plants. One of my highlights last weekend was seeing good numbers of Northern Marsh Orchids at Flamborough & Bempton.

    Nice to see the White-legged Damselfly. It's a species that seems to have almost disappeared from the London recording area. We've had many gains in recent years, but sad to lose this one.

    Not heard of Morris's Wainscot-not one I'm likely to see. Should attend my first local mothing event at dawn tomorrow. Looks a warm night-so hopefully productive!

  5. Hi Neil - hope the mothing went well. I've not seen Northern Marsh Orchid yet but hope one day, in the not too distant future, to make some trips for those plus other orchids and insects. Having not ventured much beyond the south-west in recent years there's a load of stuff I want to see. All the best. Matt