New Year Plant Hunt Day 2 - Swanscombe, Kent
Day 2 of the New Year Plant Hunt took me alone to an industrial road in Swanscombe to see what was in flower. This was also a repeat venue from previous years so as to enable comparisons to be made.
It has to be one of the most ugly plant hunt venues one could pick. It's been neglected for many years and is full of litter from lorry drivers parking up overnight. This year there's an additional attraction of a dumped HGV trailer as well.
What I have found though is that plants don't care about this mess and will pretty much carry on regardless. Of course, for animals this waste can be extremely hazardous. The flowers follow.
Yellow crucifers can be difficult. This is Hoary Mustard, a common plant in flower in North Kent at this time of the year.
A solitary Common Knapweed survived the few frosts we haved had to date.
Centaurea nigra agg.
I noticed a surprise bug on a leaf that I first thought was a Dock Bug. However, a firm ID was given on Twitter and it's a Denticulate Leatherbug, one I'd not seen before.
Hazel trees are now in flower with the brght green catkins making them an easy to spot species. The catkins are the male flowers and the small red feathery stigmas, the female.
Mowing of a road verge caused this Wild Carrot to flower again, it's only about 6" tall!
Daucus carota subsp. carota
I first saw Wallflowers in flower in 2016 with none found last year at all, so it was nice to find a few again for this year's hunt. They have long been naturalised in this area.
Sun Spurge is usually found in arable fields, but these road verges had plenty of them.
My famous Red Hot Pokers were still here (a photo of them appeared on the TV show Countryfile last year in the NYPH publicity) and amazingly they were still in flower for the second year running. These are not planted and for unknown reasons flower several months later than those in gardens. Their likely origin is probably from fly tipped material.
White Dead-Nettle is another winter stalwart flowering species.
In amongst a pile of plastic rubbish was this beautiful White Melilot, a member of the Pea Family.
Another photo showing the habitat for these plants. The rubbish stretched the entire length of the road, about 800m.
A very common winter flowering plant is Annual Mercury
Here's the whole plant complete with rubbish around it.
I found three Ragworts in flower here; Oxford, Common and this Narrow-leaved Ragwort.
A naturalised alien from South Africa that is spreading rapidly through the UK.
The extremely tiny clustered yellow flowers can only belong to Hedge Mustard, confirmed also by the leaves.
Stellaria media s.s.
The final plant in flower that I photographed was a stand of Scentless Mayweed growing happily by a kerb stone.
Thus, despite the rubbish and unpleasant scenery, lots of wildflowers were found in flower for Day 2 of the hunt. It's often the way that brownfield sites or those in urban areas have more species in flower than say, a well looked after nature reserve. Perhaps in time someone will write a dissertation on brownfield/urban sites to evidence their value to wildlife, hopefully before they're all built on?
Again, there were less species in flower here than last year, but not many less.
Day 3 and 4 of the hunt will follow soon.