Botanical wonderland

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Saturday, 30 July 2016 09:18


I've been at Amberley Wildbrooks all this week with Mark Gurney, Andy Skinner and Vivienne Booth from my old department at the RSPB. Also yesterday Shaun Pryor came out to help too. What a week! The weather was really well behaved, five years ago it was just way too hot and the increased grazing out there means that getting about was mostly a lot easier too. The rare plants have certainly increased in number. Marsh Stitchwort for example is in loads more ditches and in some places is even in the field centres.

As more ditches are in the early state of succession, there are more ditch slubbings. This is where you find Small Water-pepper.

Great Water-parsnip is slightly up on last time too. I should add we still have many ditches to survey next year so the picture could change somewhat.

Marsh Cinquefoil returns to the SWT side after ditch clearance!

Everyone's favourite Unbranched Bur-reed does well in early to mid-successional ditches.

But it's Cut-grass that's the thing we were most interested in and that seems to have a shown a big increase. Last night when I closed my eyes I could still see it. I get this sometimes when you have to pay close attention to spot something. Whenever I show anyone this grass, I usually state first: "Prepare to be underwhelmed!" Yet in hindsight, I actually love this plant. Every time I spot it it releases a little bundle of endorphins. Jesus, did I say that out loud? Here it is growing out in the open on bare mud.

And here it is holding its own against dense Water Horsetail in a clogged ditch!

And more Whorl-grass than I've ever seen!

The survey simply took the form of presence or absence of all species in each ditch and amazingly we covered 83 ditches in 4.5 days. Cut-grass, Great Water-parsnip and True Fox Sedge were GPSd too. Here is a lovely open ditch with Sharp-leaved, Hair-like, Shining and Broad-leaved Pondweed, Frogbit, Amphibious Bistort and Cut-grass on the bank!

Here is Narrow-leaved Water-plantain (left) compared to regular Water-plantain (right).

And here is a shot that says it all. Amberley is clearly doing very well and I'm looking forward to completing the picture next year.

Oh and yesterday, after the RSPB lot left, Shaun and I stumbled upon this. Sorry Mark, we'll have to go and look for one of these next year! Another 13-spot Ladybird! Other non-botanical highlights included Lesser Cream Wave, Dotted Fan-foot, Water Vole, Crarabus granulatus and may more!

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