I’ve been tempted into visiting some beautiful sites recently – mostly Wildlife Trust sites from the excellent NatureFinder App. Many of these sites have some exciting species which you know you will see if you visit at the right time of year which is a brilliant opportunity, but does sometimes feel a little like cheating.
One real positive however is to see the kinds of sites, assemblages and habitats in which these species occur, which gets your eye in for spotting other potential locations where the same characteristics occur. So as well as the excitement of seeing these unusual species, it is training to finding sites for yourself.
Last week, I found common spotted orchids flowering in a damp area of grassland and rushes just next to the Grantham Canal – a patch I investigated carefully because the species assemblage and conditions seemed similar to Wildlife Trust sites where I’ve seen this species recently. There is no record of this species in that location at present, so I recorded the sighting on iRecord to ensure that this record is made available to conservation groups.
This morning was another such opportunity – walking to work I spotted a stretch of grassland next to the road which was similar in character to some of the Wildlife Trust Roadside Nature Reserves (RNRs) along the A1 at South Witham which host a range of plants including orchids. Sure enough, a closer look revealed bee orchid spikes just a few metres from a busy road.
So as well as being a pleasure in themselves, I think visiting known wildlife sites has a higher value as well – it will encourage you keep your eyes peeled for new sites which can be added to the distribution maps and might just allow something rare to be recognised and protected from harm.