Size isn't everything

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Thursday, 24 June 2010 15:51




I've had some time off after the excitement of being on live TV and I have been having a look at some very small plants this week at a site in Surrey, Frensham Great Pond. Spring annuals on rabbit grazed, sandy soils dry up and die off pretty quickly and many of the plants I was looking for had already gone over or were well on the way. People pressure here is perhaps the most influencial ecological driving force though, without it some of the communities would disappear but without managing it, bare sand would be all that was left! Unfortunately, it was already too late for Bulbous Meadow-grass but I did see (from top to bottom) Suffocated Clover, Smooth Cat's-ear and Bearded Fescue. Shepherd's-cress was also present but reduced to a dry husk and the single specimen of Bird's-foot Clover I found was not worth photographing. I haven't seen a lot of these plants since I worked on the arable reversion at Minsmere. There are some interesting Sand Sedge NVC communities there too. This is back-breaking botany as everything is so small, you can't even see a lot of them until you are on your hands and knees. Oh yeah, Smooth Cat's-ear was open in the morning but by lunch time it had closed up, I wonder if this is a moisture saving mechanism?

Perhaps even more exciting, I saw my first ever Sand Lizards, three females in fact. Moths were pretty good too by the lights on the centre walls in the early morning. I saw Large Tabby, Blotched Emerald and Great Oak Beauty. Mottled Bee-flies are easy as they are finding there habitat on the paths, disturbance is the key!

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