This joint field trip involved a hefty climb down, and then up several hundred steps on the steep chalk cliffs of Folkestone Warren. However a surprisingly large number of people still turned up to punish themselves physically in the name of botany.
Above are some of the group this day with the joint leaders Owen Leyshon (2nd from left) and Sue Buckingham (3rd from left).
The photo below shows how high these cliffs were and our route would take us down to sea level. Folkestone pier is in the distance.
Rather than try and recall the order I found things in, I''ll just post them here in alphabetical order, so as not to miss anything important! As most will know, I photograph the everyday flowers such as this Agrimony as well as the rarities.
Pyramidal Orchids just coming into bloom.
A hoverfly bee mimic on Field Bindweed
The rather dull but numerous pale green flowers of Sea Beet.
Beta vulgaris subsp maritimum
Red Valerian towering over us as we descended.
A tatty Common Blue on Wood Spurge.
A beautiful Cream-Spot Tiger Moth on Ivy in the wooded areas.
A Cricket nymph
Every now and again were groups of Common Spotted Orchids, most quite small compared to inland specimens.
There were a few all white variants that created some interest among the group.
And of course, the usual colour form. Though Common Spotted vary tremendously in colour and markings, even in a single population.
Wild Carrot is a common sight in Kent and here at the Warren. Apparently Sea Carrot was also seen, but I somehow managed to miss that!
Another coastal plant but also found inland on the chalk was Viper's Bugloss, seen here growing in a concrete crack along with Rock Sea-lavender - Limonium binerversum
Some photos of the long walk down (and longer walk up!)
Common Eyebright - plenty of expert botanists around to help me identify it!
A photo of typical flora in the slump zone of a chalk cliff.
A nice diversion was this Green Hairstreak butterfly on Wild Privet, found and pointed out by Owen.
Some of the chalk turf was so steep, we left it to the gulls!
I noted three Hypericums, the first was this beautiful Tutsan
Then Hairy St John's Wort.
and finally Hypericum perforatum (not photographed)
This isn't just a view shot. In the foreground was a plant I'd never seen before, which was Wild Madder. Apparently common in the West, it is very rare in Kent.
Unfortunately gone to seed, but very shrubby and rough to the touch. Much like a giant Hedge Bedstraw!
Views each way from our lunch spot, now at sea level. It was here that I was shown two grasses and from this moment decided to try and crack this group of plants so that I could ID them myself on future recording trips. Most changes of direction need a catalyst and this was one.
So what wonder grass influenced me? One of the group had noticed two closely related grasses growing in the concrete cracks, one rare, the other common. He took the time to show me the differences and that was my catalyst.
Here's the common one, called Hard Grass. Doesn't look much does it, but if you sat on it, the blade tips were rather like needles going through one's trousers! Ouch!
This is the rarer one, Curved Hard Grass, which has a lot more Ouch! than the former species.
Apart from being curved, the most obvious difference is the lack of flowers on this one compared to P. strigosa above.
A Nursery Web Spider waits for its prey to land on the leaf when it can grab it with lightning speed.
The pink rhino horned flower of Common Restharrow in the chalk turf.
Along the cliff tops and in places on the way down were stands of the rare Nottimgham Catchfly whose petals unroll after dark to attract pollinating moths.
Small flowered Sweet Briar Rose was found and the apple scented glands on the leaves shown to us all.
However, this may not be the flower that goes with it! I think this is actually a Field Rose, but the leaf below definitely relates to the former species!
Some of the group botanising the cliff base where the Moon Carrot was found.
Of course, there were many other species seen and recorded from Common Milkwort, Squinancywort and Thyme on the chalk to a massive display of Hartstongue ferns down the cliff path and beach species such as both Sea Spurries. It is an amazing venue and a big thank you to Sue and Owen for arranging the field trip for us all.