Monday 25 August 2014

A Few New Forest Specialities and My Favourite Wildflower

Yesterday we were going to visit Martha in Winchester and as always I tried to fit in a bit of botanizing on the way. I decided to try the New Forest where there are a wealth of interesting and rare plants. Unfortunately we had to be in Winchester by midday, so I didn't get nearly as long as I would have liked and only managed to see a handful of new species from just two sites. Firstly we stopped in the Cadnam area where the lawns contained lots of Wild Chamomile and the wet depressions left from winter pools were the location of the very rare Small Fleabane and also the rare mint, Pennyroyal. I also saw my first ever Trifid Bur-marigiold here.

Wild Chamomile - Chamomilla nobile 

 Cattle grazing in a hollow containing lots of Small Fleabane - Pulicaria vulgaris
It grows in areas of poached ground that have been flooded in winter so depressions like this are essential for its survival.

In the top corner of this photo a clump of Pennyroyal - Mentha pulegium is also visible.. just about!
I couldn't get any close up photos of this plant as it would have meant crouching down amongst the herd of cattle. I wasn't that determined though because I'd seen and photographed the plant before in South Devon. See HERE.

Small Fleabane - Pulicaria vulgaris

Trifid Bur-marigold -  Bidens tripartita

Next stop was the botanically famous Hatchet Pond, home of several very rare plants. It's a great place but the Sunday of a bank holiday weekend wasn't really the best time to visit as it is also a very popular tourist day trip spot. Fortunately for the plant enthusiast none of the hoards of people are in the slightest bit interested in the flora of the site and you can botanize without too much interference. You certainly get some funny looks though as you grovel around on the floor seemingly photographing the mud! I could easily have stayed all day as there are lots of plants I didn't have time to locate but I did see the big two, and when I say 'the big two' that's in rarity value rather than looks!

 Hampshire Purslane - Ludwigia palustris

 Pillwort - Pilularia globulifera
 A rare and unusual fern

Pillwort with new fronds unfurling in the foreground.
Seen here with Hampshire Purslane and what I think is New Zealand Pigmyweed - Crassula helmsii

On the way home, late in the afternoon, we made a  quick detour to one of the Dorset Heaths to look for Marsh Gentian. I'd seen then here last year so knew exactly where to look and soon found a small group. Unfortunately it was getting late and threatening to rain and in the gloomy conditions the flowers had furled up. Still stunning, even so! My favourite wildflower.

Marsh Gentian - Gentiana pneumonanthe

Saturday 23 August 2014

Plants and Inverts on Axe Cliff and Seaton Marshes Plus Sparrowhawk Attack.

I've been collecting photos again so this is going to be a long one. I've paid a couple of visits to the Axe Cliff area in the last few weeks, once to complete a count for the Big Butterfly Count and again to look for Autumn Lady's Tresses. I've visited Seaton Marshes quite a few times too especially seeing as it's only a short walk away. So firstly here's a few bits 'n' bobs from the Axe Cliff area.

Clouded Yellow

 Painted Lady

 There were lots a Walls about, it's been a good year for them.
I've never managed a good photo of one yet!

Small Skipper egg-laying on a grass stem. 

 TansyTanacetum vulgare

 Musk Mallow - Malva moschata

Ploughman's Spikenard - Inula conzyae

Blue Fleabane Erigeron acris

Common Calamint - Clinopodium ascendens

Autumn Lady's Tresses - Spiranthes spiralis

With Red Ant - Myrmica sp. (don't ask me which one though!)

Seaton Marshes

Common Darter - Sympetrum striolatum

Migrant Hawker - Aeshna mixta

Common Blue - Polyommatus icaru. 
 Nectaring on Common Fleabane - Pulicaria dysenterica.

 A Wasp, not sure which species, collecting wood fibres from a fence.

 Purple Loosetrife - Lythrum salicaria

Gypsywort - Lycopus europaeus

Common Hemp-nettle - Galeopsis tetrahit
I saw this white form of the flower at Black Hole Marsh.

My small flock of Feral/Racing Pigeons is one bird lighter as of Thursday when one of the local Sparrowhawks struck. A Pigeon kill nearly always involves a slow death and hence can be rather gruesome but I'd rather that than it take yet another Blackbird or House Sparrow. I was at work at the time but Rob saw it from the kitchen window and grabbed my camera to get a few shots of it and seeing as he'd never really used my DSLR before they came out very well. I won't say it shows that the camera's foolproof.... Whoops I just did! I'll show a few of the less gruesome ones...

Female Sparrowhawk - Accipiter nisus
 Shielding her prey when she spotted Rob looking at her.

Wednesday 13 August 2014

A Bit of Botanizing on Colyford Common and Heath Lobelia

A couple of weeks back I spent a pleasant couple of hours down on Colyford Common looking at the interesting plant-life.

This is the flower of Strawberry Clover - Trifolium fragiferum
 It gets its name because when the flowers have finished the sepals become inflated, so that the seed-head resembles a dull pink, papery strawberry.

Some pinker than others!

Common Hemp-nettle - Galeopsis tetrahit

The small flowers are very attractive up close

The orange flower in the background is Orange Balsam - Impatiens capensis
A native of North America and not quite as invasive as Himalyan Balsam. It is also known as Orange Jewelweed and close up you can see why.

A very exotic looking flower.

Another invasive species, this time from the southern hemisphere (South Africa I think?) is this 
Buttonweed - Cotula Coronopifolia.
There are a few small clumps on the Colyford Common saltmarshes but over the tramlines on Colyford Marsh it's really running amuck. In fact it's totally covered at least half of the large scrape, which isn't good because it means the birds are even further away!

More Buttonweed with Lesser Sea-spurrey - Spergularia marina

Lesser Sea-spurrey

Very similar flower but with petals and sepals more equal in size is
Greater Sea Spurrey - Spergularia media.

 Wild Celery - Apium graveolens

 Thrift Armeria maritima

 Sea Aster - Aster tripolium

Sea Plantain - Plantago maritima

 Sea Arrowgrass - Triglochin maritima

Close up of the tiny flowers.

This weekend I popped over to the Kilmington area to check on the Heath Lobelia colony. There was a good show of plants but in the windy conditions I struggled to get any good close photos seeing as the plants are on private land and I have to take photos from some distance away. Still it's great to see this rare plant in the location where it was first discovered in the UK.

Heath Lobelia - Lobelia urens