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Location: Sandscale Haws, Cumbria
Gallery: Flowers (mainly Orchids),
Sandscale Haws is a vast reserve and Coralroot Orchids are tiny and in some years there are very few of them. They are a parasitic orchid with no leaves or chlorophyll and they associate with their fungal partner living entirely underground other than a brief flowering period. I had been in contact with the warden and in early May he had indicated that it looked like the Coralroots may be flowering early which meant our proposed visit in early June might be too late. As we got closer to the date, however, he felt that we would be OK timing wise but as finding them was so difficult it would be much easier for us if we came along on one of the organised Orchid walks. Unfortunately, we couldn’t make the dates and so he gave us some rough directions. It was a 45 minute walk and then another hour looking for them. In the end I decided that given how small they are (often less than 10cm tall) and that they may be flowering underneath creeping willow that I needed to slow down, concentrate on one small ‘likely’ area and imagine I was looking for a needle in a haystack. It seemed to work and I was delighted to start finding them. I used a long 600mm lens to simplify things and I hand held an LED light to provide a subtle backlit effect.