Wednesday 15 July 2015

Another Trip to Hampshire.

Over the last couple of weeks I've been out doing a lot of botanising all over the place and therefore have lots of good stuff to get on here. I've been so busy I haven't had time to download my photos until today and there are five different trips worth! The first of these was ten days ago when I went to visit Martha in Winchester again and naturally I popped in on a few good plant locations on the way, like you do! Two of these were at what promised to be superb sites for 'arable weeds' and I wasn't disappointed. I'm turning into a bit of an 'arable weed' fanatic I'm afraid! The first site to the north of Winchester was an arable field margin with a superb selection of plants including the rare Ground Pine - Ajuga chamaepitys,

Ground Pine looks and smells a bit like a pine seedling but is a member of the dead-nettle family with tiny yellow flowers.

The flowers are very pretty close up with red spots and stripes.

Ground Pine - Ajuga chamaepitys

I also found some Small Toadflax - Chaenorhinum minus

At a nearby I found just a single plant of 
Cut-leaved Germander - Teucrium botrys

Then onto another arable field margin on the outskirts of Basingstoke...

This broad headland was crammed full of 'arable weeds'. I was in heaven! Especially so when I saw this this rare beauty...

Large Venus's Looking Glass - Legousia speculum-veneris

Common Fumitory Fumaria officinalis

In a nearby set aside field I saw this pretty pink form of Chicory - Cichorium intybus

 Field Rose - Rosa arvensis

Lucerne - Medicago sativa

Once in Winchester I had a quick look around the Winnall Moors reserve and saw a few nice plants there too including...

 Marsh Bedstraw - Galium palustre

 Monkey Flower - Mimulus guttatus

Blue Water Speedwell - Veronica anagallis-aquatica

Yellow Loosestrife - Lysimachia vulgaris

Skullcap Scutelleria galericulata

Saturday 4 July 2015

Arable Plants at Duckhaller Farm Dawlish

Yesterday afternoon I visited Duckhaller Farm on the edge of Dawlish to look for arable plants. Duckhaller is a 87 acre (mostly free range pig) farm under the Higher Level Stewardship scheme administered by Natural England. There is a permissive path around the farm some of which is along a superb arable headland. I'd seen that the Devon Botany Group had had a field meeting here and seen some nice 'arable weeds' and you should know how much I like 'arable weeds' by now! I saw no less than five new plants! It was a very humid afternoon and almost every photo I took had thrips (thunder-bugs or what you will) in it. I couldn't see them with the naked eye, sure sign I'm getting old!

Wide headland full of arable plants...

Mainly consisting of Wild Radish and Mugwort but also lots of less common plants too especially Corn Marigold which was present in vast numbers.

Corn Marigold - Chrysanthemum segetum

It was very popular with the butterflies.

New plants for me were the following:

 Henbit Dead-nettle - Lamium amplexicaule
I hadn't noticed the little passengers on this plant until I looked at the photos.

Here's a closer view of them, they are early instar nymphs of the
 Pied Shield Bug - Tritomegas bicolor

Corn Spurry - Spergula arvensis

Field Woundwort - Stachys arvensis

Bugloss - Anchusa arvensis

And the one I went especially to see the brilliantly named Weasel's Snout or the much more boring alternative, Lesser Snapdragon.

Weasel's Snout - Misopates orontium

Friday 3 July 2015

Inverts and Wildflowers on Portland and Berry Head

As promised here's a blog post not entirely about plants. Earlier this week I went to Portland with Dave and Hazel to look for Silver-studded Blues. We get these much closer to home on the East Devon Commons but the ones on Portland are thought by some to be a different race. We were going to have a look to see if they looked any different to us. The answer to that is yes, they seemed to be a bit smaller and appeared to be a slightly different blue, more like the colour of a Common Blue in some specimens. But having said that, who really knows? There always seems to be quite a lot of colour/size variation in any population of them. We were hoping to see Lulworth Skippers too but only saw one or two and I wasn't able to get a photo of any. Perhaps there will be a few more later in the season, then again maybe not because I have read today that the population in West Dorset is down by 70% this year. I was also keen to do a bit of botanising and came away having seen three new flowers, two of which we wouldn't have seen if we hadn't bumped into Portland aficionado Ken Dolbear. He also showed us the rare Down Bug which feeds exclusively on a scarce plant called Bastard Toadflax which looks way nicer than its name would suggest.

Small Blue

Small Blue
 Egg-laying on Kidney Vetch Flower head

Silver-studded Blue

Large Skipper

Marbled White

Fairy FlaxLinum catharticum

 Grass Vetchling - Lathyrus nissolia

 A stunning group of Pyramidal Orchids - Anacamptis pyramidalis

Yellow-wort - Blackstonia perfoliata

The three new plants for me were:

Yellow Vetchling - Lathyrus aphaca

Yellow Vetch - Vicia lutea

Bastard Toadflax - Thesium humifusum

Down Shieldbug Canthophorus impressus

Yesterday myself and a fellow wildflower enthusiast spent four hours on our hands and knees on Berry Head. You may well ask! Well, we were looking for the rare and very tiny plant, Small Hare's Ear - Bupleurum baldense. We didn't see any. It may have 'gone over' or we could easily have been looking in the wrong place, seeing as the detailed information we were working from was over twenty years old! A tad optimistic to say the least!! We did ask two wardens neither of whom had even heard of it or for that matter white rock rose. Glad to know they have such an in depth knowledge of the site they are wardening! Perhaps I'll try again next year...then again.... 
There were some very fine Dropwort flowers, which are always a delight to behold and we also found an interesting day flying micro- moth which we identified as the 'very local'  Sulphur Pearl - Sitochroa palealis.

 Dropwort - Filipendula vulgaris

Sulphur Pearl - Sitochroa palealis.