Connecting for Nature

A Biodiversity Partnership for Ryedale, Scarborough and the Howardian Hills

Date set for orchid count

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If you live in striking distance of Scarborough, are a botany buff or an orchid devotee you might like to help in an awesome orchid count. In previous years we have counted over eight thousand flower spikes of Pyramidal, Bee and Common Spotted orchids on a steep slope overlooking Scarborough’s North Bay. Known to orchid officianados as ‘The Orchid Terrace’, this patch of grassland is a hidden gem just shouting distance from the beach-goers in front of North Bay beach chalets.

For a number of years a few hardy dedicated volunteers have clambered up and down this grassy hillside carrying out a survey of the three orchid species among a wealth of other flora. The terrace is just a part of the grassy seaward-facing cliffs just north of Peasholm Park. Thousands of summer pop concert-goers at the Open Air Theatre must sit blissfully unaware of the botanical treats loftily perched between them and the beach huts.

A high level of botanical knowledge is not necessary as the three key species are readily told apart on site with a few minutes’ guidance. That said if a competent botanist is willing to volunteer their skills, a more comprehensive species survey is desirable every few years to understand the changes in the site’s floristic make-up on a wider scale and amateur botanists will appreciate the flora on the site. Local botanist and orchid obsessive Peter Robinson has undertaken the count for 12 years, plotting the numbers of flower spikes on show each year, which he has shown may fluctuate wildly from one season to the next. In connection with Prof. David Read, Emeritus Professor of Botany at Sheffield, the long running data set is providing a valuable picture of exact orchid numbers on a well defined site.

The Bee orchids are now in flower and the count is on for the week after next- so if you are willing and able to lend your eyes for a few hours, particularly Mon 26th / Tues 27th Jun please email asap to tim.burkinshaw@scarborough.gov.uk and I’ll give you directions You may also contact me to enquire about visiting the site individually, but please bear in mind it is sensitive to trampling as the orchids can grow very densely some years.

A mass of Pyramidal Orchids growing together in one of the survey transects.

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Author: Tim Burkinshaw

I work in ecology and biodiversity in North Yorkshire. I'm often found outdoors snapping nature and landscapes or spotting birds. In the garden I enjoy having my hands in the earth and striving for the perfect mix of greens and browns in my compost! As a Daddy I'm used to endless questions about the world around us, and generally have an answer up my sleeve for most things. If you spot me and my hat in real life or on social media do say hello!

One thought on “Date set for orchid count

  1. Pingback: Counting down to the orchid count – A little bit of wild…

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