Archivos de diario de febrero 2023

18 de febrero de 2023

A January Orchid Hunting Trip to Lisbon

January in upper Swabia is not a fun time. They say the cathedral with the worldwide highest church tower was constructed in Ulm in order to be able to see the sun above the fog. It didn’t work.
And Orchid season is months away.
So when I got a reply to my New Year letter from a friend in Lisbon I checked, just for the fun of it, whether there happened to be any flowering Orchids in Lisbon in January. And to my utter surprise iNat told me that there is a chance to see 5 flowering species in the end of the month, none of which I had seen before. Imagine that!
After a period of agonizing on the sanity of such an endeavour I decided I needed a reward and booked the flights to Lisbon for a weekend end of January. The fact that I had to work two consecutive weeks on site (which is right next to Munich Airport) helped with the decision.
Most of the clusters of January Orchid finds in Lisbon were from public parks, all within easy reach from my hotel by foot and/or public transport. I got up Saturday morning to a beautiful day, sunshine and blue skies – a treat after a felt eternity in the fog. Looking forward to an exciting day full of Orchid hunting, I hiked from my hotel to the huge park around Monsanto, where I hoped to see 4 of the 5 candidate Orchids.
The first site was an open pine forest, crisscrossed by many paths along which multiple Sawfly Orchids (Ophrys tenthredinifera) flowered. I had started early (helped by the one hour time change) in order to catch the morning sun, but unfortunately the sun rose from the other side, and most of the area was in the shadow still. I took some pictures, but decided to return on my way back.
The next target was the ‘Giant Orchid’, Himantoglossum robertianum, for which many spots were reported for the forest around Monsanto. On the way there I noticed loads of Gennaria diphylla plants growing along the forest edge, mostly in the deep shadow, some catching a ray of the sun. As many plants were in buds still, the challenge was to find one that was illuminated AND had its flowers opened. This kept me quite busy until I ran into the first Giant Orchid, which is quite a sight with its pink, white and green flowers. It was, of course, in the shadow, but just a little further along the forest clearing there was a whole group of these really beautiful plants in the full morning sun. An incredible sight.
Today’s final target was the Yellow Bee Orchid (Ophrys lutea). There had been a few postings in an area more or less at the opposite end of the park. Exhilarated from the success so far and the gorgeous weather, I continued walking. Once I reached the area, I started looking, and, after a while, spotted the first plant, and then immediately a few more. Although they were in the full sunlight, they blended in extremely well with the overall vegetation. The flowers were very fresh, and really shone in the brilliant sunlight.
A full success!!
What remained was to walk back, and hopefully get some pictures of the Sawfly Orchid in the afternoon light. I entered the destination in my phone, and started to walk back. Not too far from the Yellow Bee Orchid spot I found some beautifully lit Gennaria diphylla plants. Despite their tiny green flowers, these plants look very graceful, and, with their two characteristic leaves, are quite unique. Interestingly also, Gennaria is a genus that only harbours two species, diphylla and griffithi, the latter occuring from Afghanistan to China.
Halfways back through the park, my phone decided it was out of battery, and abandoned me to find my way back unguided. Luckily, the sun, the river, and the aqueduct helped with orientation, and while I couldn’t help a lost Portuguese car driver, I found my way back home, and even the spot with the Sawfly Orchids on the way. And they were in the full afternoon sun.
That completed an immensely enjoyable Saturday.
And that left one Orchid for Sunday, the Sombre Bee Orchid, or Ophrys fusca. No sightings had been posted for this year yet, but there was a spot near Trafaria, where people had found it in previous years. Via bus and boat I got to Trafaria, and walked up to the little hill that separated that town from the Atlantic Ocean. Due to a small digestive emergency I only had a quick look around and then went to a coffee shop on the other side of the hill and had a break with a pastel de nata and an espresso.
Before returning to the site I went all the way to the Atlantic coast to get some fresh sea breeze. Back up on the hill I did a bit of a more intense survey of the area, and indeed found the third Ophrys species in flower in January, the Sombre Bee Orchid. The first plant was entirely in the shade, but the other two got some rays, and by waiting a little bit I got the sun to illuminate each of the three flowers that were open in turn. Well worth the wait...
So this concludes this little adventure – I saw three new Ophrys species, which are quite clearly distinct from the ones I have known from Switzerland, a Himantoglossum species that lacked the extended lip of hircinum, but none of its beauty, and an entirely new genus. I had a blast!!!

Publicado el febrero 18, 2023 04:35 TARDE por graeserr graeserr | 5 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario