North of the Wall

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Tuesday, 5 June 2012 17:36

Less than 24 hours ago I saw these Roman Snails on Steve Gale's blog, north downs and beyond. They have been on my wish list for some time so I left a comment asking if I could have the gen. Before I knew it I had a text and had arranged to meet Steve this morning at Banstead Woods. I wasn't prepared for the four mega rare plant ticks I would also get thanks to Steve! I was surprised at how close these parts were to me in Brighton, being only 40 miles away and less than an hour's drive. It takes me much longer than that to get to many parts of Sussex, such as Ebernoe, Iping, Filsham or Rye Harbour!

Back to the snails though. What impressive beasts they are. They are surprisingly large and heavy. And disgusting. The shell is really tough, I doubt they have many natural predators apart from Humans...
Steve showed me a few areas where Greater Yellow Rattle grows and we found a small patch that were yet to open! The first rare plant of the day.
We then passed on to an area where Cut-leaved Germander and Ground Pine were possible. I was getting a wee bit excited by this point as I have always wanted to see Ground Pine and with 20 years of botanising behind me, it was about time 'n all. So, we entered the area of grassland known as Fames Rough and I spotted a tiny Cut-leaved Germander plant not yet in flower. I was pretty confident that was the plant after swatting up last night. A nice little Cryptocephalus moraei posed on the rare plant.
We found much more of the germander in an area that had clearly been managed for the plant. The chances of seeing Ground Pine were suddenly looking up.
After about ten minutes of searching, I found the Ground Pine! What a cool little plant. It certainly does not look like it belongs in this country and it is so unlike anything else. Awesome.
Steve then took me round to an area near Box Hill where Green Houndstongue grows right by the side of the road. It really is a very different plant to regular Houndstongue, the jizz is captured in the bottom photo. Four very rare plants and North Downs specialities. A massive thanks to Steve, I added five species today, all of them really good ones so I will have to return the favour at some point. In the meantime, for 24 hours only, my blog will be suffering from an identity crisis.

1 Response to "North of the Wall"

Karen Meyer Says:

Hi Graeme,

Your photo of the Roman snail was good to see because I've just come back from a week's wildlife walking in The Drome Valley and Vercors in France and guess what I saw on a wooded walk on a damp and rainy day..... lots of these snails ! I didn't know they were in the UK.

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