The Old Hoverport, Pegwell Bay, Ramsgate and Bishopstone, Kent - 16/06/18

I remember going to this hoverport at Pegwell Bay when I was a teenager watching the giant hovercraft head across the mudflats towards the continent. For whatever reason hovercraft fell out of fashion and a giant concrete apron of several acres was left behind. Over the years, nature has reclaimed it, pushing through cracks in the concrete and growing on thin soils that now cover large areas of what was concrete.

The almost white flowered plant and the almost black flowers below belong to the same species of plant, Sand Lucerne.

It can be all manner of colours, often metallic as well, though to date I'd not seen the black flowered version.

When I saw those below they looked black to the eye, but the photo shows it's a very deep purple.

Very similar to Lucerne (which is always blue) and Sickle Medick (always yellow), these can be told by the seed pods if the flower colour confuses.
 Medicago sativa subsp. varia

Purple Toadflax is a long escaped garden plant that easily colonises "waste ground" such as here. Some flower spikes were easily a metre tall and very impressive.

Linaria purpurea

Another plant quick to colonise new areas is Common Restharrow, a sticky glandular plant with rhino horn shaped pink and white flowers.

Ononis repens

Another garden escape is Silver Ragwort. It adorns the cliffs in East Kent and long ago escaped cultivation. It favours coastal areas, and the display of golden yellow flowers shows why civic gardens liked to plant it.

The yellow flowers in the foreground are Biting Stonecrop and between those and the Ragwort are White Stonecrop, both common in such habitats.

(Sedum acre and Sedum album)

Senecio cineraria

There's plenty of salt marsh in this area as well. Look carefully and you'll see the Sea Spurries, both Lesser and Greater. This is the latter with its relatively large white petals and 10 anthers telling it from the former. Also present were Sea Purslane, Golden Samphire, Sea Aster and plenty of other plants of interest.

Spergularia media

I was then very surprised to come across a few Man Orchids. The closest I knew of them to here was at Monkton Quarry, some miles away or on Folkestone Downs on the chalk. I didn't expect to find them here!

Unfortunately, they''d gone over, so this is a record shot for the venue.

Orchis anthropophora 

And then look what I found! A "copse" of Southern Marsh Orchids, another rare plant for this area with Monkton Quarry and Sandwich Dunes the only other venues I know for them in the area.

Some were still in fine condition.

Dactylorhiza praetermissa

I even found some gone over Bee Orchids nearby as well.

Near to the high tide mark on a shell grit beach were fine stands of Sea Rocket

Cakile maritima

We left Pegwell and had a short stop at Ramsgate beach to cool off in the sea. I was very pleased to park right next to my favourite dead-nettle.

Henbit Dead-Nettle

 Lamium amplexicaule

At the bottom left of this photo are the flowers of Ivy-leaved Toadflax (Cymbalaria muralis).

As we often do as we headed back, we stopped off along the North Kent coast rather than drive straight back up the motorway home. First stop was Bishopstone Glen which is a cliff slope between Herne Bay and Reculver.

Broad-leaved Everlasting Pea is now common all over Kent, a colourful garden escape often found along road verges, but here growing along the cliff slopes.

Lathyrus latifolia

 Another Pea family garden escape is one I'd not seen in the wild at all until this year. I've now seen it here and previously at Sandwich: the Tree Lupin, an imposing, wonderfully coloured plant.

Lupinus arboreas

A grass called Timothy and Meadow Vetchling, handsome bedfellows on the cliff grassland.

Lathyrus pratensis 

A close up of Timothy.

Phleum pratense

A fine view of Herne Bay from Bishopstone Glen.

This is Selfheal (pften also found in lawns) but it was such a perfect specimen I photographed it.

Prunella vulgaris

This was perhaps my most surprising find, a solitary Cornflower, perched on a cliff edge so not from any wildflower mix sowing or from bird feeders.

How it got there is rather a mystery!

Centaurea cyanus

Our next and last stop on the way home was at Hampton about a mile West of Herne Bay. There's a small saltwater dyke here that provides some interest and a small shell grit beach.
 On the latter was this beautiful Yellow-horned Poppy with Common Mallow amongst it.

A different viewpoint can make a photo more appealing.

Glaucium flavum  

Common Sea-lavender was just coming into flower.

Limonium vulgare

Finally, the other Sea Spurrey was present and flowering, Lesser Sea Spurrey

Spergularia marina

So ended another great day out on the Kent coast.



Popular posts from this blog

May 2021 Botanical Finds from Kent

Autumn 2021 - Botanical Finds from Kent

The Amazing Early Spider Orchids of Samphire Hoe & Much More, Kent - 15/04/17