The end of June is the time to look for our commonest wild orchid - the Common Spotted (Dactylorhiza fuchsii). This is the plant that hybridises so freely with all of our Marsh Orchids and causes such confusion (see 'Marsh Orchids' 11.06.2009).
It is also very variable and the flowers can vary in colour considerably. In the photographs above you can see a plant that I found in Stretford, this year, with very striking, deep magenta markings and a plant that I found in Chorlton, last year, with pure white flowers.
The flowers can also vary in shape. They all have three lobed lower lips - but these can be quite sharp and angular or fuller and more 'blowsy'. The main photograph hints at this variation but this picture should be interpreted with some caution as this could be a 'hybrid swarm' and at least some of these flowers could be Marsh Orchid hybrids.
Dave Bishop, June 2009