Johnny Allseed

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Friday 24 August 2012 09:02

Having mapped about two thirds of Chailey Common this week, I am in need of a break. I have found a few nice plants there hidden away in discrete corners. This is Allseed, a tiny plant that I can't even remember when I saw last. Yesterday whilst struggling through birch covered M25, we stumbled across a nice little bog pool (M1) covered with floating Sphagnum, Many-stemmed Spikerush, Bog Pondweed, Bulbous Rush and best of all, Marsh St Johnswort. This last appears to be a new site record based upon the Sussex Rare Plant Register.

I also spotted this strange web over some Gorse and on closer inspection realised it was caused by a mite. I suspect this is Tetrychnus lintearius.

The Saw in the Red House

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Tuesday 21 August 2012 21:06

I don't see Saw-wort very often, this might even be the first time I've seen it in Sussex. I have taken the week off to do some freelance work at Chailey Common. NVC mapping the whole site no less! I have seen more Bracken over the last two days than I would usually see in a year. The nicest bits so far are H2c, a little H2a and M25b. The few patches of Saw-wort I have seen occur in areas of M25b in a guild with Golden-rod, Betony and Devil's-bit Scabious. They certainly brightened up the endless Bracken, Silver Birch and Molinia. I also stumbled across a Sharp-angled Carpet. I have completed the section called Red House and will be working on Memorial tomorrow, I love these old place names! The weather has really helped so far, as I have walked just shy of 13 km today with over a tenth of my own weight in volumes of Rodwell on my back so I could do without too much heat. Oh, I forgot. A big thank you to the dog owner who kindly let their spaniel lick my lunch and then walk off without saying a word of apology! You rock!

Spitting image

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Friday 10 August 2012 10:13

This is the Spitting Spider Scytodes thoracica, a strange little synanthropic spider that appeared from behind my keyboard at work on Monday morning. It took the best part of fifteen minutes of persistent photography to get this image but it was worth it in the end. It's only the third one I have ever seen. The first was shown to me in the RSPB Lodge library by Ian Dawson, the second in my last house in Brighton some three years ago. It's not all that rare but you clearly don't see them often even when you know they are present. 

Anyway, at 6 mm, it's a bit of a midget compared to the extremely rare Fen Raft Spider Dolomedes plantarius that we have been surveying all week at Pevensey on the back of an a aquatic macrophyte survey there. I'll write a separate blog about these beasts as they totally deserve it. Here is a taster...

Surface of the Sun

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Wednesday 1 August 2012 06:47

First off, all the photos in this blog were taken by Mark Gurney using his new digital SLR and I thought I would use these and see how they compare to my old Coolpix. To make things a little more dramatic, I have added a piece of music by John Murphy from Danny Boyle's much underrated sci-fi Sunshine. Possibly one of the best pieces of music used in cinema in years, the frequency that it has been used on other films and adverts is testament to this. It also goes some way to demonstrate just how hot it was at Amberley this last week. The only shade out there was that cast by the horseflies and we were begging the jet stream to return. I even bought a hat!
So I did get a few plant ticks. I finally caught up with Whorl-grass (top photo). This aquatic grass grows in the middle of the ditches. I often wondered if I had been overlooking this but it is very distinctive. And of course, it's glaucous so it's instantly better than all non-glaucous plants in my book.

Cut-grass was harder to spot this year than last year as it is not as advanced but we did see it in a number of ditches.

A couple of Chrysolina herbacea on Water Mint. I asked Mark what they were doing but he wouldn't tell me. I think the one at the back is trying to push the other one off the leaf.
I think where a digital SLR really comes into its own is photographing narrow spindly plants in harsh light. I may have to invest in one. I couldn't have got that shot of Whorl-grass with the Cooplix. A big thank you to Mark and if you haven't read the article about Mark in this edition of 'Birds' then do, it's really good. Another big thanks to Mark, Sarah, Rachel, Dave and Frances for allowing this joint project to happen, I couldn't have done it without them, there are just too many ditches!

It's strange going back to the same places at the same time of year, year after year. You cannot help but measure yourself against these seemingly static landscapes, I feel like I'm drawn into the monitoring process! So in my report I would have to say that this particular taxa is doing very well compared to this time last year! I started the ditch surveys at Pevensey yesterday and ticked Lesser Water Plantain and Thread-leaved Water Crowfoot as well as seeing a gravid female Fen Raft Spider and four nursery webs!

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