A short walk at Beachy Head

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Monday 10 May 2010 16:45

Part 2 of yesterday's botanical bonanza. We went to Beachy Head in search of Early Spider Orchids, whilst searching for them in vain, I did finally get to grips with a plant that I have always looked for and never seen, Chalk Milkwort. I have posted pictures of this and the much more frequently found Common Milkwort below. Chalk Milkwort looks different straight away, the flowers seems smaller and there are more of them but the arrangement of the whole inflorescence is the give away, much more three dimensional, upright and crowded (like a bog brush!) as opposed to the rather sparsely flowered, 2D, Common Milkwort. The false rosette is clearly visible on the Chalk Milkwort specimen above and you can see how much larger these lower leaves are compared to the stem leaves. On Common Milkwort they are consistently much narrower. We had to call in some assistance to find the location of the orchids though, they are quite severely suppressed by rabbit grazing and very small specimens but thanks to Michael, Claire, Penny and Dave we got there in the end. We saw around 25 specimens with only one or two above 10 cm tall. We also found this dead male Emperor Moth whilst searching for the orchids. Birds were few and far between and all the invertebrates we saw were dead.

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