At the beginning of the week, photos emerged on Facebook of a pristine Monkey Orchid which had been photographed in Sussex. A couple of others managed to see and verify the record, but of course, details were strongly withheld and with this specimen already at its peak condition, there would be little time to wait for any directions, even if these were to be released.
Therefore, I went into my full investigation mode to try and ascertain where this orchid could be. In all honesty, it didn't take too much working out. There were enough clues in the text and having knowledge of this specie's preferred habitats, using a series of maps I found an area which looked by far the best contender.
So, last night, armed with my macro lens, I set out on a 20-minute walk to a 'hidden valley', and upon entering the valley, I knew I was at the correct location. Many Cowslips, which were the main feature in the series of Facebook photographs, soon led me into a cause of panic as I knew this county first was only yards away.
Comparing the treeline on the image with the photos I had, I managed to find the point, and to my delight, there before me was one of my favourite orchids – the Monkey Orchid! Such efforts are unbelievably rewarding, and to think I am one of only a handful of people to have now seen a Monkey in Sussex, is amazing.
This is the first record of a Monkey Orchid in Sussex, and given how isolated the valley is, it's hardly surprising it took so long to be found (unless it was planted...).
Obviously, I will not be letting out where this orchid is at all – if can find it, I'm sure others can too.