Introduction.

As I trudged uphill, through the thick beech leaf carpet, carrying rucksack and tripod I felt, instinctively, that this year would not be one for those tiny treasures, the ghost orchids, that have over the years held a particular interest for me within the greater encompass of my  Orchidophilia.

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The most recent finds of the Ghost orchid – July 2016

The colouring of ghost orchids – various pale yellow and cream tones and reddish stem flecked with a darker red – creates a camouflage effect in their beechwood habit with its dappled lighting. The  knack is to spot the first when, as with orchids of all kinds, others seem to spring up…as you get your ‘eye in’, especially when shafts of light penetrating the canopy pick them out. I had, in fact. given up, resigned to trying another day when I took a slight diversion some 40m sideways to a gulley and found the first flowering plant just a few cm high….another 9 spikes followed, flowering some two weeks earlier than I have ever found them previously.

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Although I can spend countless hours watching and waiting for ‘the moment’ in nature with butterflies, bees, lizards and anything else that moves or grows, my patience with life in general is limited, especially with myself: I need change, challenges and my spirits sink with the humdrum. One of the many reasons I love natural history is that there are so many opportunities for those small things that bring joy and mean that life is never dull and they cost nothing.

 

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One of the first pictures I took with the new Panasonic GH4 fitted with the Laowa 15mm f/4 wide angle macro. This is the Piano Grande in Italy’s Sibillini National Park one of my favourite places and just right to try out new gear.

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Long before I came to live in central Italy (2003) I had, in fact, led botanical and photographic trips within Italy from the early 1990s. As I discovered the joys of the central Italian hills and mountains, the one thing that impressed me, above all else,  was not the number of rare species (however impressive when it came to wild orchids) but the wealth of the displays.

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Spring crocus (Crocus vernus) tint the landscape towards the Cornu Grande (2012m) the highest peak in the Apennines.

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