Friday, 6 June 2014

Sanna Orchids

We went walking to the north side of the Sanna Burn again today, not out of choice but because I'd left a piece of archaeological equipment near Rubha Duin Bhain.  We were here less than a week ago, but the orchids on display have changed - and what a feast of orchids we were treated to!

We'd hardly left the car park when we stumbled across a small group of these beauties, all much the same shade of vibrant pink.  I think they're northern marsh orchids rather than the early marsh - we saw plenty of early marsh just over two weeks ago at Sanna - see post here - but they've all disappeared.

What we haven't seen at Sanna before are these - lesser butterfly orchids.  Previously, the only places we've found them were two scattered sites between Achnaha and the north coast.  Again, there was a small group of them and then, despite looking out for them for the next two hours, we didn't see any more.

The most common orchid is the heath spotted, and they're having a good year, particularly around Sanna, while, in contrast....

....the fragrant orchids are hard to find this year - on the whole walk we saw only two.  At least the fragrant is easy to identify as it has, as its name suggests, a delicate scent.

The heath spotted and the common spotted orchids hybridise so there's a complete range between them, but this one is at the common spotted end.

To complete the day, as we returned to the car park we found this northern marsh orchid, in a different shade to the ones in the earlier group.

In all, we had the joy of finding five species of wild orchid in a brisk two-hour walk while, at the same time....

....enjoying the distant views across a calm sea - in this case, to the island of Muck.


  1. On the first photo, looking at the shape of the leaves and the shape and colour of flower, we think its a form of Early Marsh Orchid - Northern Marsh is always a deeper purple with a flatter leaf and a tri-lobed lip.

    The Fragrant Orchid has been re-classified Heath Fragrant Orchid (gymnadenia borealis), others in the family are Chalk Fragrant and Marsh Fragrant

    Lovely photos, we've seen Lesser Butterflies (30 of them) on the north side of the main road into Strontian in Glen Tarbert (2012)

  2. Many thanks for your comment. I confess to be about as confused with identifying local orchids as I am with the local moths! The orchid did seem to have a tri-lobed lip, which the earlier orchids at Sanna didn't have, but the colour certainly isn't right for the northern marsh. I use the West Highland Flora website to help me identify orchids - can you suggest a better one? Jon

  3. Wonderful photos, thank you. I never knew there were so many different types in your area.

  4. Pamela - it seems to have been an exceptional year at Sanna for orchids - but there are more, such as the frog orchid - but I'm struggling to find them. Jon