Showing posts from April, 2016

Strood Area of Kent: 18/04/16

With the longer, but not necessarily warmer days now, there is enough time before work to visit more than one venue. We started off in Strood, Kent. Not an obvious choice for botany as it's quite built up, but the Western end of the town backs onto countryside with a mix of habitats from the Eurostar railway line to ancient woodland to disused brownfield land. Betula pendula When looking for flowers in Spring, it's wise not to always look down. Many trees are coming into flower now, like this lovely Silver Birch. The catkin is the male flower with pollen, and the shorter stumpy spike contain the female flowers with purple styles. There are actually 2 types of Silver Birch, one being a Downy Birch, so bear that in mind when photographing them. Leaves, bark and twigs are all slightly different in each species. Back on the ground and these sedges look quite nice and they were abundant on the footpath through some light woodland. Sedges, rushes and grasses can all ha

Early Flowering Coastal Plants, Isle of Grain, Kent - 13/04/16

It had been raining hard for a few days, so when we planned a morning walk we didn't fancy anywhere muddy. This ruled out most of Kent at this time! So we drove off to the Isle of Grain, a small country park on the North Kent coast on a promonotory of land between the tidal Thames and Medway. This has a nice level path along the sea wall with no mud at all! There are extensive mud flats, some salt marsh, 2 sea walls and a mix of fresh and saline ditches behind it, so there is a variety of different habitats. However, it was the sea wall we were interested in today, for species which show in early Spring then disappear until next year. First up was Sticky Mouse-ear. It's actually quite common, but easily overlooked or mistaken for Common Mouse-ear. This tended to grow on the top of the higher sea wall, away from the salt spray of a high tide. It wasn't long before I found my first Sea Mouse-ear, substantially smaller and mostly in the sp

Around Longfield, Kent - 05 to 08/04/16

Th disadvantage of a job is that the time available for my hobby is now limited. The advantage is that when time is limited I make the most of what is around me locally. I live in the North Kent urban fringe only a few miles from Greater London but within yards of beautiful countryside and chalk downland. My first stop was the local Churchdown Woods near Fawkham. I've extensively surveyed the OS map grid square this is in and added over 30 unrecorded plant species last year to the records. The North West part of the woods come alive with Spring flowers now and they were already in bloom.  Carpets of Wood Anemones were out, dancing in the light breeze and reflecting beautifully in the dappled sunlight  beneath the trees. Anemone nemorosa   As quickly as they appear, they will go. Once the leaves start to open on the trees, cutting off the light, they will all seed very quickly. Parts of the wood were also carpeted in a mix of n

River Bourne, Basted, Kent 3rd April 2016

Tucked away in rural Kent is a delightfull small river that runs through a quiet bird song filled valley. A public footpath runs parallel to the stream, most of it shaded by the Alder that loves wet ground. Yet this delightful oasis is but a few minutes from the M20 and M26! The wet and boggy ground habitats gave me a chance to find wildflowers I normally miss, as most of my local area is dry chalky soils. Growing in a bog to one side of the river were several Marsh Marigolds, their bright yellow flowers standing out in the drab boggy ground. These are native to the UK but are often found near habitation as escapes from garden ponds or Council planting. These were truly wild though and a delight to see. Caltha palustris All over the place were carpets of Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage. These have no petals on their flowers but the anthers glow gold in sunlight giving the appearance of thousands of tiny yellow flowers. Chrysosplenium oppositifolium