Monday, 28 October 2013

Common Species


Of all the many nature photographs that I have taken in more than forty years of wandering about on Sliabh Mannan, mostly in company with a dog, this is one of my favourites.  The remarkable thing was that both of the featured species are officially called 'common', whilst for my part I had never seen either before.  I had to turn to the well-thumbed pages of one of my reference books in order to establish that I had now observed the common blue butterfly (polyommatus icarus) feeding from a flower of the common spotted orchid (dactylorhiza fuchsii).
The year was 2011 and the month was July. As I recall it had not been much of a summer for people, but for some reason there were wild orchids all over the moor and in every field. I have a friend who knows about orchids, but unfortunately I did not happen to meet him during this extraordinary period. Had I chanced upon him I dare say that he could have explained to me what was happening. I was just left to wonder at it.
I suppose that a botanist would find nothing particularly strange in a flower species suddenly appearing in an area where it has been largely unknown before. For me the movement of flora is even more mysterious than the movement of fauna, and I don't understand as much about that as I should like to do. The one thing that I can certainly say is that these unusual common species brightened a climatically fairly dull season.