Sunday, 24 June 2012

A visit to Greywell Fen brings the total to 400

A visit to Greywell Fen this evening (when it was quiet as the England game was on) was very productive, bringing my total species to over 400.  The aim was to photograph the Ragged Robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi) which was difficult as the nearest ones were in very boggy soil and had to be taken using the telephoto.  The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust who manage the site had done some woodland clearance to extend the area of fen.  This coupled with the long spell of wet weather made the whole area very wet with much more open water than would be normal at this time of year.  Both species of watercress were there along with Viola arvensis.  One lovely moment was seeing a barn owl hunting along the bank of the Whitewater River, in the evening sunshine. 

Lychnis flos-cuculi (Ragged Robin) at Greywell

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Slender Bedstraw at Porton Down

The Slender Bedstraw (Galium pumilum) was probably the rarest plant nationally speaking that we saw on the visit.  It looks little different from other white bedstraws, but the tooth structure of the leaf is different, being toothed only towards the tapering base, and these teeth curving towards the base of the leaf.  It has recently turned up at a second chalk downland site in North Hampshire.  My illustration shows the UK distribution and two of my photos one of the leaf and the other of the plant at Porton Down. 

I was again surprised this morning at what one can find within walking distance of one's house.  On the verge of a residential street in Basingstoke I found a spike of the Lesser Broomrape (Orobanche minor) and the Ratstail Fescue (Vulpia myuros) both of which were new species to me.

                                              Orobanche minor (Lesser Broomrape)

Total species 1202
Found and photographed 385 (32%) - just 16 more species to one third

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Porton Down visit

Nearly two weeks ago now I attended a visit with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust's botany group to Porton Down, at which I learnt so much and was introduced to some plant species that I'd never seen before.  Because the site has been owned by the Ministry of Defence for so long, the habitats are undeveloped.  I had never experienced such an unbroken expanse of chalk grassland, so rich in species.  Still over a week later I am still processing what I saw and adding to the list.  A few of the rare species were quite inconspicuous - I'll mention them another time. 

My list of orchids seen stood at one before the visit so the highlight of the visit was seeing the Lady Orchid, (Orchis purpurea) at its only site in Hampshire.    I will illustrate here the lovely Lady Orchid and the parasitic Bird's Nest Orchid (Neottia nidus-avis) which grows under the shade of beech.  The other orchid in full flower was the White Helleborine, but at least another four species were in leaf or bud. 

 Orchis purpurea (Lady Orchid)                       Neottia nidus-avis (Bird's Nest Orchid)