Sunday 28 February 2016

Spring Flowers in Hampshire

Last Monday we spent a day in Hampshire, mostly in The South Downs, looking for a few early rare wildflowers. One or two of them were flowering very early this year.

Wild Green Hellebores on a roadside verge near Selborne.
There were around 40 plants along this bank which was lovely to see after having only seen a single specimen last year near Abbotsbury in Dorset.

Even though they are completely green I find them extremely beautiful. 

Green Hellebore - Helleborus viridis

These are the first ever wild Stinking Hellebore that I've seen. 

Stinking Hellebore - Helleborus foetidus

We were surprised to see this Abraham-Isssac-Jacob in full flower ( in fact slightly going over) in February. This is a non-native but naturalized plant sometimes seen on road verges and hedge banks.

Abraham-Issac-Jacob -Trachystemon orientalis

This one we really didn't expect to be in flower. It usually flowers in late March/April.
Again a naturalized species but it as been growing on this roadside site near Oakhanger for many tens of years .

It is called Drooping Star of Bethlehem as the flowers are usually drooping although these didn't look particularly droopy to me. It looked beautiful growing on the roadside hedge-bank and was well worth almost getting run over to see!

Drooping Star of Bethlehem - Ornithogalum nutans

This was just over the border in Wiltshire and was also flowering very early (these photos from 7th Feb). It's the weird looking and equally weirdly named Asarabacca. The flowers are really unusual and it's easy to see why this plant was popular with apothecaries many hundreds of years ago, which is when it was introduced.

Asarabacca - Asarum europaeum

Monday 22 February 2016

Early Star of Bethlehem and Other Early Spring Wildflowers

I've been wanting to see Early Star of Bethlehem or Radnor Lily for years, and this was the year I finally did! It's a very elusive flower because as well as only occurring at one remote site on the Welsh borders, it is also a very shy flowerer. It didn't flower last year, well apparently it tried to but the single flower in bud was eaten (by slugs I think). When it does flower it can be anytime between January and March, so it is best to get advice from the warden, which we did. He kindly advised us when the flower was open and told us where to find it. It is usual to have to have a guide on the reserve due to the fragile nature of the site but we were told we could see the plant this year in an easily accessible area where it had been caged for protection. All we needed was a sunny day so that the flower would be open. When we arrived the flower wasn't fully open despite the sunshine and we had to sit and wait for it for a couple of hours. It was worth it though. There were just two flowering plants this year, the other one in a restricted area of the reserve.

Early Star of Bethlehem - Gagea bohemica 

These Snake's Head Irises are naturalised on Portland and looked lovely in the late afternoon sun.

 Snake's Head Iris - Hermodactylus tuberosus

Spring Crocus - Crocus vernus

Early Crocus - Crocus tommasinianus


Spurge Laurel - Daphne laureola

Winter Aconite - Eranthis hyemalis 

Winter Aconite and Snowdrops or if you prefer.... 

Snowdrops and Winter Aconite 

Sunday 21 February 2016

Bits 'n' Bobs and Birds

Yes that's right birds! Mostly a few finches from my living room window but birds non the less. Also a few photos from last year which didn't fit anywhere else. Mainly plants but also a liverwort and a lichen, so really exciting stuff! I still have a few more fungi posts to do but they can fit in as and when because after this one I really need to start getting this years sightings on here before I have another backlog to deal with.

  Bieberstein's crocus - Crocus speciosus

Dwarf Elder on Portland.

Dwarf Elder - Sambucus ebulus

 Golden Samphire and Sea Aster

 Golden Samphire Limbarda crithmoides

Wall Germander - Teucrium chamaedrys
Naturalised on Sand Point Somerset. 

The unusual flower of Butcher's Broom.

Butcher's Broom - Ruscus aculeatus
In fruit 

Water Chickweed - Myosoton aquaticum

Song Thrush's Anvil in dunes at Dawlish Warren

Petalwort - Petalophyllum ralfsii
A rare liverwort found at Dawlish Warrren. It's very tiny and I'd never have seen it without being shown it by the warden.

Golden Eyes Lichen - Teloschistes chrysophthalmus
A once very rare lichen which was once extinct in the UK but is now rapidly recolonizing along the south coast. This one was near Hartland Moor in Dorset on a blackthorn hedge.

A Dipper on the River Plym Dartmoor.

I miss having a garden and feeding the birds. Fortunately  though there are lots of trees and shrubs outside the window of our flat and they are visited by a good variety of birds. It's nice to see the birds feeding on naturally occuring foods too. The Bullfinches are tucking into the leaf and flower buds and the Goldfinches are feeding on the alder catkins.

 This one has an unusual colouring with yellow spots on the red face feathers.