Each year since 2006 we have been working with Liz Lavery, local ecologist and recorder for Plantlife Scotland, to monitor the Lesser Butterfly Orchid present on the reserve. Habitat degradation in the form of scrub encroachment and over-grazing over many years has led to this delicate orchid being classified as ‘Vulnerable’ and also being included on the list of species of principal importance for biodiversity conservation in The Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004.
Numbers were initially low in 2006, with 57 plants counted in the first year. Numbers of counters have also played their part in the subsequent increase, given that in the first couple of years there were only up to 5 counters.
We now gather a team of up to 12 volunteers to enable maximum coverage over a series of sweeping transects across the whole area.
It is essential that the survey is conducted at precisely the right time of year. Last year’s lower than expected count was put down to us visiting the site before all the plants were in full bloom, making individuals much more difficult to pick out amongst the long vegetation.
This year we got a team of 8 volunteers accompanied Steve, Liz and I to Carsehall. We were delighted with what turned out to be the second highest count on record- a whopping 346 Lesser Butterfly Orchids on site! This constitutes a significant population of this rare and declining species, and it was recognised as an important site for LBOs recently with a ministerial visit. Plantlife arranged for Claire Baker MSP to visit the site, after she chose to lend political support by becoming species champion of Lesser Butterfly Orchids.
Among the volunteers was local photographer Ian Borland, who was very keen to develop his already considerable collection of Kinross-shire botany and wildlife. Ian wasn’t only photographing orchids on our visit though, he was also on the lookout for anything else that caught his eye, which these beetles certainly did, as did our lunchtime companions!
To view more of Ian’s photos from the LBO count, or to view his portfolio of work please click on his link. Many thanks to Ian for the use of your fantastic collection of images.