Sunday, 9 December 2018

Sheldwich, south of Faversham, Kent - 21/10/18

This trip came about purely by chance. The week before I was out with the family and stopped at Sheldwich church to make a cup of tea from the flask. On driving away I saw what looked like Viper's Bugloss along a road verge, but the flowers were a lot bigger.
So I researched this area and found that Purple Bugloss had previously been recorded here but little else had. Thus a recording trip plan was born!

My planned route took me through 4 under recorded monads. Here are the highlights from that trip.

Borage was commomplace in patches for about 500m along a rural road verge. The usual blue flowers were dominant, but a few white form variants were also present.

Borago officinalis

Common Centaury
Centaurium erythraea

Crreping Thistle
Cirsium arvense 

Two of the three usual  thistles were present. I'm sure if I had looked harder, I would have found rosettes of the third one, Marsh Thistle.

Spear Thistle
Cirsium vulgare

I dislike using the flash on the camera as it bleaches detail out and incorrectly colourises the image. However, these were growing in such dim light, that a flash was definitely necessary.

Dead Man's Fingers

Of course, having seen them the week before, I was keen to see the Purple Bugloss up close. There was a road verge along a field edge that ran for around 500m full of them.

Most were pink or purple but a few were white. Mostly, only two long stamens exerted the flower corrolla.

Here's a Purple Bugloss looking good in company with a Bristly Oxtongue.

Echium plantagineum

Here's a habitat photo for the Purple Bugloss. You can see the line of purple along the road verge.

Tall yellow flowered Melilots can be confusing as there are two species which look very similar. I hope the following photos show you what to look for to determine the differences between Tall and Ribbed Melilot.

 Melitotus officinalis

Forgive me for including four photos of a relatively common plant.

This is Musk Mallow. However, I've seen so few of these beuatiful Mallows this year that an excess of photos can be excused!

Malva moschata

It's been a few months since I last photographed Field or Early Forget-me-nots. Thus I had forgotten how small and insignificant were their flowers. This is Field Forget-Me-Not.

Check out the hairs on the calyx, upper stem and lower stem to identify them. Flowers and leaves are mostly similar, though flower size helps to pinpoint which species you have found.

Myosotis arvensis

Here are four photos of an alien Oak Tree that you might come across. It's the introduced and now naturalised Turkey Oak. It has a very distinctive acorn cup that can't be mistaken for anything else. In the absence of acorns though, check out the leaves. These look very different from Pedunculate or Sessile Oaks and have very jagged leaves. The mature trees are tall, sturdy, fine looking trees.

Quercus cerris

I recognised the following plant straight away, having seen it at Hosey Common in Kent last year. It's a Gooseberry! Note the spines here and there and the odd shaped leaves. Fruits not required to identify this plant!

Ribes  uva-crispa

Here's another fungi appearing in the short grass of a road verge, the Parasol Toadstool. In a few days these would have opened out into big saucer shaped toadstools.

White Campion
Silene latifolia

Hedge Woundwort
Stachys sylvatica 

Large Thyme 
Thymus pulegioides

I was then pleasantly surprised to find a flowering native Orpine, a plant I'd known and grown in my youth as an Ice Plant in my garden.  There are a few Orpines found in the wild; this is the native form, told by the truncate base to the leaves (like a straight line at the base).

It was growing in a recently coppiced woodland and not near habitation.

Sedum telephium subsp telephium

A nice find in a set aside field were a few Alsike Clovers.

These superficially look like White or Red Clovers with neither species really fitting what you've found.

Note the long flower stalk above the plant with no subtending leaves; the pointed long white with green veined stipules; and the very branched veins on the leaves. Neither Red nor White Clover have these features.

Trifolium hybridum

A surprise find was Argentinian Vervain, a garden escape. I have found this escaped in other parts of Kent, often nowhere near habitation, so I expect it to be found in significant numbers in the years to come. It seems to have naturalised quite easily in Kent.

Verbena bonariensis

 When you first find a Violet flowering in the Autumn, all sorts of things go through your mind. I know it did with me! However, after the first such shock of finding an early spring flower in the autumn subsides, one finds that research shows such flowering in the autumn to be a common place occurrence. 

It is however, still very pleasing to find a Common Dog Violet in flower in late October, but no longer it is amazing to me!

Viola riviniana

When out recording, it is usual to have one's eyes glued to ground level or just above. There is just the occassional glance upwards to identify a tree found.

In these planted Lime Trees though was an infestation of Mistletoe; easily missed if the eyes didn't wander upwards from time to time!

Viscum album

So concluded a wonderful afternoon botanising in East Kent. I hope you liked the highlights. Proof that just because it's late October it's rubbish that there's nothing to be found!

Here's map of my route.


Monday, 3 December 2018

Bedgebury Forest and Rye Harbour NR - 20/10/18

Bedgebury is home to half the species of confiers in the world, so they claim. It is clear that there is a tremendous variety of conifers here and with the autumnal colours just starting to show through, it was a good time to visit.

Of course, the majority of plants/trees here are planted specimens, though I was on the look out for anything natural I  might find.

Apart from a solitary Agrimony in flower, I found a nice stand of Devil's Bit Scabious in flower but that was about it!

Succisa pratensis

However, there wasn't much in the way of anything wild to be found. So I made the most of the planted specimens here, much the same as watching animals in a zoo!

Callipcarpa japonica 
Japanese Beautyberry Tree 

 Cotinus coggygria 
Grey Smoke Bush

From here we made our way to the coast for a walk at Rye nature reserve. This coastal shingle and salt marsh reserve is always worth a look around whatever the time of year.

Echium vulgare

Viper's Bugloss flowering on the path from the car park along the River Rother to the sea.

Sea Spurge. There's plenty of it on the West bank of the Rother as you pass the old information hut.

Euphorbia paralias

Herb Robert is a very common plant, most often found in shady places such as woodland paths or in gardens or pavement cracks.

However, there is a prostrate variety usually found on sand or shingle on the coasts and here there is plenty of it.

Geranium robertianum subspecies maritimum

Pastinaca sativa

Wild Parsnip was in flower in several locations on our walk around the reserve. For identifying these yellow flowered umbellifers, have a quick look at the leaves. Below are those of Wild Parsnip, but if the leaves are fine and feathery, they will likely be Wild Fennel, the only other yellow late flowering large umbellifer plant likely to be found.

The beautiful lemon coloured flowers of Mouse-ear Hawkweed
Pilosella officinarum

Sticky Groundsel is another shingle coastal speciality.

Note the very obvious glandular tipped hairs. Touch them and you get a sickly lemon smell on your fingers.

Senecio viscosus

A few Sea Campions were flowering, with the majority now in seed. These will always only have one flower per stem, unlike the superficially similar Bladder Campion which may have several.

Silene uniflora

At this time of the year, it's not always about the flowers. The fruits of Bittersweet are now very obvious dotted along the shingle pathways.

This plant is a relative of the tomato and the potato, but don't eat these as you will get an upset stomach if you do!

Solanum dulcamara

There were several of these attractive Mulleins around, much smaller in stature than the usual Great Mullein.

You need a good close up photograph of the stamens and anthers to identify them. This one had a combination of purple and white hairs narrowing down the possibilities.

Leaves are obviously useful as well.

This turned out to be Twiggy Mullein though it is very similar to Moth Mullein as well

Verbascum virgatum

In the relatively newly created saltmarsh habitats were thousands of Sea Spurries in flower, both Greater (as shown) and Lesser.

An easy ID tip to separate them is that Greater always has 10 stamens, Lesser has, well - less!

Spergularia media

Some more fine views from our walk around the reserve. In the photo above at my feet (but not shown) was a good sized colony of the rare Sea Pea, though not in flower now.
Below is a view back east to the red roofed hut on the banks of the River Rother and the wind farm many miles further away near Brookland in neighbouring Kent.

I hope you enjoyed the trip!
Take care