I’m so excited by this one, the Early spider orchid Ophrys sphegodes. I’ve never seen these before so I decided to make the effort. I drove 3 hours down to the Dorset coast, Durleston Country Park on the edge of Poole harbour. This is one of a very few UK sites for this orchid. It only grows on the south coast, in Kent and Sussex as well as Dorset, and there is a very large population at Samphire Hoe on a reserve made from a huge spoil heap created by the excavation of the channel tunnel.
It is closely related to the bee orchid and they share a pollination technique. they look, feel and even smell like a female Andrena bee. When the male tries to mate with the flower, he collects the pollen and then transfers it as he tries it on again with the next flower. It is an amazing feat of mimicry.
They are the most charming little flowers, only about 10cm tall with their heads bobbing in the sea breeze. I’d say they are well worth a long drive.