Alderney Bird Observatory (ABO) has revealed that a ‘significant percentage’ of its valuable colony of green-winged orchids was dug up and stolen from the island over the Easter weekend.
The crime appears to have taken place in the early morning of April 18, when a member of the public reported seeing a man with a trowel digging up the rare flowers.
The green-winged orchid blooms across the UK in April and May (Björn S/commons.wikimedia.org).
About 30% of the spectacular orchids, which are currently approaching full bloom, have been removed. There are only many holes left in the ground.
Posting on the ABO Facebook page on the 18th, manager John Horton said: “Sad news to report as a significant percentage of rare Alderney Greenwing Orchids were unearthed early this morning.
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“When I moved to Alderney in 2016 the mass produced Alderney Tourist Board leaflet for visitors had a main line under the heading ‘Alderneys Wildlife’ saying ‘Enjoy picking our wildflowers’ It’s no longer in print and I like to think progress has been made since then, but it’s extremely concerning that this incident happened.”
Alderney Bird Observatory posted this photo on Facebook of one of the many empty holes that once housed green winged orchids.
Although the practice is much reduced, collectors remain a threat to many of the UK’s rarest plants. The Wild Orchids UK & Ireland Twitter feed, which is managed by Sean Cole, said the incident is a reminder of caution when it comes to sharing information on the site with strangers about the whereabouts of orchids.
To find out more about Alderney Bird Observatory, go to www.alderneybirdobservatory.org.