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DACTYLORCHIS AND

ERICETORUM, OTHER

LINTON,

ORCHIDS

by JANET C . N . WILLIS

I have beert asking some Flora recorders near likely habitats to look for this orchis. We have had no recent records of it in Suffolk until now. I read somewhere that the Rev. E. F. Linton the naming authority for it as a species distinct from O. fuchsii saw it in Suffolk—I think at Polstead. Mr. Simpson saw it years ago at Falkenham and one or two other places where it probably exists no longer. Mr. G. L. Ransome (Entomologist) responded " Come and see for yourself". He took me to one of the most splendid orchis-swamps I have seen. I collected as I thought four or five species or hybrids. When I tried to look them up in C.T.W. I was baffled by the seeming hybrids, and sent them to Dr. Perring. In his absence Dr. Yeo made notes of them and sent them on to Kew. This is the determination of Mr. P. F. Hunt of the Herbarium, Kew. 1.

Dactylorchiza mortonii Druce = I). fuchsii X praetermissa.

2.

Dactylorchiza transiens Druce = D. fuchsii

3.

Dactylorchiza fuchsii Druce.

X ericetorum.

4.

Dactylorchiza ericetorum Linton. Returning my specimens thus labelled, Dr. Perring wrote " clearly a most intriguing population. It is nice to have confirmation that D. ericetorum does occur in Suffolk ". I have wondered for a long time whether some of our many records of D. fuchsii might not refer to D. ericetorum. It would be nice to hear of other examples. This was a swampy pasture where cows were kindly keeping the grass down around the orchids in drier parts. I hope to go there again when perhaps Mr. Ransome can bring a duck-board to reach another group far out in the swamp which I thought might be D. praetermissa. That would give us all three parent species. The story of the other orchids is not so happy. This Family seems nearly doomed in Suffolk. The Frog Orchis (Coeloglossum viride) recorded by Hind as " distributed in all districts " has in recent years been found only at Hitcham and Debenham. By 1960, Mr. A. L. Bull and Mrs. Aldred both reported it as ploughed up and extinct ; but the latter did later find a few plants in another pasture.


ORCHIDS

257

The Fragrant Orchis (Gymnadenia conopsea, L.) (Habenaria Benth.) has been recorded by Mr. Bendix at Coddenham. This is the sole record of it in Suffolk, though Hind said in 1889 " occurs in all districts ". The Lizard Orchis (Himantoglossum hircinum L.), was seen by Miss E. Rowling at Tattingstone in 1932. This record was shied at by our referees as the mere memory of an old lady. But A. L. Bull found it there in 1959, but later reported that it had become extinct. Hind described it as " very rare " and gave only one site for it—Great Glemham by Rev. E. N. Bloomfield. Note. This old lady like other good botanists never forgot where she had seen a rare thing. She said she had seen Inula helenium at Bacton long ago. This too was discounted until Mr. W. E. H. Fiddian of B.S.B.I. found it there in recent years. But we cannot now get confirmation for her Water Soldier (Stratiotes aloides L.), in a pond near Westerfeld Road, Ipswich, for the Valley Road now runs over the site. FOOTNOTE

M r . Ransome has just found (June, 1963) in this wet meadow the third parent species, D. praetermissa, which we thought we saw but could not reach last year. I sent a specimen to Dr. Perring at Cambridge and he confirms the name. This, it seems, would complete the population, for a hybrid fuchsii X ericetorum would be difficult to distinguish from either parent.

COYPU (MYOCASTOR COYPUS) AT MINSMERE DĂœRING THE FROST OF JANUARY AND FEBRUARY, 1963 by

H.

E.

AXELL

coastal reserve was less affected by the severe weather than were areas inland. Snow was never more than one to two inches deep on the marsh and the largest mere retained some small part of open water throughout the period. Nearly 400 acres of dense THIS


258

COYPU AT MINSMERE

reeds, which are not cut for sale, included large sections on dry land with thick floor debris. Good shelter was also provided by the many bramble and gorse bushes and it was evident that this cover was much more used than in periods of less severe weather. In January, one tunnel was dug in a bank of loose earth and two rabbit burrows were used. Parts of some ditches remained icefree and roots of some marsh plants and grasses were available in fair quantity. That coypus at Minsmere were at least able to maintain their body weight is indicated in the table below. The larger sample in January was possible through the activities of Messrs. T . Forrest and G. Bloomfield of the M.A.F.F. Coypu Campaign, who had a final total of over 400 traps set throughout the marsh and accounted for some 140 animals on the Reserve. Compared with nearby marshes, where no persistent control measures had yet been taken, the Minsmere population had been kept at a low density (vide Trans. S u f f . Nat. Soc., XII, pt. III, 177-183) and probably no more than 200 coypus were present in the reed-beds when the frost began on 23rd December, 1962. Trapping was continued on the Reserve throughout February. Eleven were caught up to 8th and thereafter no sign of a live animal was found in the reed-beds. DĂźring this month, however, other trappers operating for the Ministry in nearby grazing land were taking one or two occasionally by the ditches. These coypus showed considerably more frost-bite than those which had been trapped in the marsh. In the reed and scrub cover, only seven animals were found dead during the two months and severe frostbite with swelling and cracks in the feet and toes, was found in five. Less severe frost-bite was found in a few others and four had tails slightly affected with rotting skin and loss of hair. The only pup seen was one, between one and two months old, trapped in the fields south of the reed-beds. Most of its tail was severely frost-bitten. Lethargy was noticeable in some animals soon after the onset of the frost and became progressively more obvious ; towards the end of January, large coypus were being caught quite easily by a dog. Mr. C. S. Mead, Controlling the Ministry's coypu campaign, informed me that the animals caught in the Minsmere reed-beds were in better condition than those from any other East Anglian colony. At the Coypu Laboratory, Norwich, Dr. R. M. Newson found only slight frost-bite on some samples from Minsmere whilst severe damage (cracks and extensive raw areas on the soles of the feet, and tails often dead and shrivelled) was common in coypus from the more exposed areas of Norfolk. The Minsmere coypus, however, showed no tendency to be heavier.


259

COYPU AT MINSMERE COMPARISON

IN

WEIGHTS

OF

COYPUS

TRAPPED

AT

MLNSMERE

IN MILD WEATHER AND IN PROLONGED, SEVERE FROST.

October,

Body length (inches)

14 15 15| 16 17 20 20i 21 24

1962

Weight (Ibs.) av.

max.

min.

21 2i

2i

21

4

3

H 4i 5 14 11* 11 121

January,

No. in sample

2 1 2 1 1 1 1 1 1

Weight (Ibs.) av.

max.

min.

4* H 4+ 6 5* 12 m 13 17

5

4 2f 3 44 4 10 10 11

6 n 8 14 13 15

1 63 No. in sample

3 4 5 12 9 12 7 15 1

Only a small sample of comparable body-lengths was available from those trapped in October. $ $ in advanced pregnancy have been omitted.

THE GREAT FREEZE by

G.

E.

CURTIS

THE winter of 1962-63 was one of the most severe in living memory and therefore might be considered to be worthy of record in our Transactions. The figures from which the following temperature graphs were made were kindly supplied by Lord Stradbroke and were recorded at the Henham Estate, Wangford, Beccles. Maximum temperature was taken at 6.0 p.m. and minimum at 7.00 a.m. each day and represents the highest and lowest temperature reached for the previous twenty-four hours. The thermometer was not screened and was suspended about four foot from the ground on a north-facing wall. The recording Station stands about fifty foot above sea level.

Dactylorchis Ericetorum, Linton, and Other Orchids  
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