Dover and Seasalter, Kent - 12/08/17

A recent field trip to Dover by the Kent Botanical Recording Group found the previously almost extinct plant of Western Eyebright, though the plants found may turn out to be hybrids of that species with another found there.  Some samples were collected and sent to the Euphrasia BSBI referee, so we'll have to wait and see.

 Eyebrights are particularly difficult to identify and I wished I could have made the field trip at that time to help me identify them when out on my own.

Anyway, I knew roughly where they were so we parked at the White Cliffs NT car park and I walked down to the tramway area.

On the way down, I photographed several plants of interest.

This is the Harebell, unfortunately this is rapidly declining throughout the country, though still common where it is found.  As such it is a Kent RPR species.

Campanula rotundifolia

It was quite breezy and these wouldn't stay still, so I was reasonably pleased with the photos (fast shutter speed used).

Here's another Kent RPR species, though it is often found on chalk turf and places such as Dungeness, the Carline Thistle. In full flower, it often looks like its dead and gone over.

However, get in close and there is a ring of dark purple florets around the straw coloured spiny rays. Bees love them.

Carlina vulgaris

This thistle is usually hidden, even in short turf. It's the one you sit on when admiring the view across the Channel!

It's the Dwarf or Stemless Thistle.
I prefer Dwarf as a name, as I've seen some with stems up to 6" tall.

Cirsium acaule

There's always interesting insect life to see on chalk turf. This is the 3rd instar nymph of the Common Green Shieldbug.

Many Shieldbugs are voracious eaters of plant bugs such as aphids, so welcome them if you see them in your garden. They don't bite or sting humans!

Palomena prasina

A view looking West towards Western Docks and Shakespeare Cliffs.

I then came to the Eyebrights. There were numerous what I would call ordinary ones that I see all the time, but a few looked different and are probably the hybrids with the Western Eyebright.

Euphrasia tetraquetra or hybrid?

As I walked back to the car, I noticed some Tansy, an odd flower as it has no rays.
Tanacetum vulgare

Another interesting view from the Dover cliffs.

My last photos from Dover were of an exceptionally large and bright caterpillar. It was easy to identify as it was feeding on Wild Privet, it's the Privet Hawk Moth caterpillar.

Sphinx ligustri 

Sorry I've included lots of photos, but I'd not seen one before and it was an impressive creature.


 Here's a photo of what this caterpillar will become. The Privet Hawk Moth is the largest UK resident moth. This one came into my house one night a few years back. What an impressive beast!

 From here, we popped in at Seasalter on the North Kent coast on our way back home. I had a wander through the scrub areas now managed    (I believe) by the RSPB.

I didn't stay long, but amassed numerous new botanical records while there. One of them was this beautiful Flowering Rush. I'd not seen these before but unfortunately it was well in the water and I couldn't get close for better photos.

 Butomus umbellatus

Also in the dykes (Kent name for ditch if you were wondering) was Frogbit (Kent RPR) with its delicate white flowers. Again, I couldn't get very close, so below was the best I could get of a waterlogged flower.

Hydrocharis morsus-ranae 

That's it for this trip, I hope you enjoyed reading it. There's still plenty of time to get out and find wildflowers and insects. You never know what you might find.

Take care


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