Showing posts from July, 2016

Bogs, Shingle & Sand Dunes, Kent 17th July 2016 Part 2 - Shingle

A large shingle habitat in Kent can only be at Dungeness, a huge peninsular of shingle deposited by the sea over at least 2 thousand years. Viewing maps from Roman times onwards, you can see how it has grown into the huge area it is today as shingle is swept from the Western side of Dungeness and deposited along the Eastern beaches. The whole area is a National Nature Reserve, within which there is the RSPB reserve. This is a fantastic place for botany, but wasn't where I went this day. Opposite the RSPB main entrance is another less well trodden part of the reserve called Boulder Wall and was a former ARC shingle quarry/gravel pit. The habitats range from the obvious dry, desert like conditions of shingle ridges, to sandy areas, left over from the gravel pit days and to lakes and ponds formed from deeper gravel extraction into the water table. This provides for a variety of species, many very rare in Kent.  It was a very hot and breezy day to start with, so as a result

Bogs, Shingle & Sand Dunes, Kent 17th July 2016 Part 1 - Bogs

As the title suggests I visited three distinct habitats on this day.  Part 1 of this blog details my first stop, which was to Kent's finest reserve for bog plants, Hothfield Heathlands, near Ashford. This area is managed by Kent Wildlife Trust and they are trying to reclaim the bogs from ever encroaching scrub. As such, there are often horses and cattle grazing on the reserve. I didn't see any today, but evidence of large animals trampling down the scrub was very apparent. While this may do some short term damage, it definitely opens up areas to other flowers for the near future. I don't think people realise that without management, virtually every habitat would be forest within 20 years with a virtually barren flora underneath! Erica tetralix Very obvious, and scattered all over the wetter areas were these flowering Cross-leaved Heath plants. They have pink (sometimes white) bell shaped flowers that look a bit like a bunch of grapes on a stiff stem. The key to

Orlestone Forest nr Ashford, Kent - 9th July 2016

This is a large piece of woodland South of Ashford in Kent, but we tend to walk the Southern end as it has wide open rides full of wildflowers, butterflies and other insects of interest. It's a lovely walk with a free car park, only ruined by some inconsiderate dog owners who leave copious amounts of dog mess on the paths, some of which I trod in this day. Apart from that, it's well managed for bio diversity. The first plant I noticed was one that 99.9% of people will never notice! Lots of Marsh Cudweed, an insignificant little green plant with dusty brown flowers, it grows on edges of well worn paths and other dusty places. It seems to thrive in places where it gets trodden on or driven over by tractors, perhaps because such activity eliminates the competition? The whole plant is usually only about 3" tall, but there's usually quite a few found after you spot one. Gnaphalium uliginosum Meadow Browns were abundant, as they are in m