Friday, 8 July 2016

Another visit from the Biodiverse Society

The Safari was able to join the Biodiverse Society team again this morning. This time they were studying a series of ponds and interlinking grasslands close to last week's site. It's a great project and well worth getting involved with if you want to find out more about the wildlife in your area and learn from experts in identification.
Today's site isn't quite as floristically rich as last week's venue as there are large areas dominated by Tall Oat Grass and the smaller Common Bent. Along the margins old field boundary hedges were widened by banks of Greater Willowherb and Brambles. But it wasn't long before sharp eyed botanist DE picked out a slightly different form amongst a clump of Hard and Compact Rushes. A Club-Rush, which isn't a rush at all it's a sedge, but which species was it - one for further detective work.
Wandering through the grassland we recorded more common species of plants including the hemi-parasitic Red Barstia, a Ragwort plant had a number of very tiny Cinnabar moth caterpillars on it, all the others we've seen recently have been almost ready to pupate, and several Small Skipper and Meadow Brown butterflies flitting through the grass tops.
The main target of today's visits were the ponds along the trail. The first one we visited had a Song Thrush singing loudly from the old Hawthorn hedge behind it.
The pond was mostly dry despite a third of it being scraped out over the winter. There's a large patch of Greater Reedmace in the centre of it whose evapo-transpitation is probably not helping.
From there we walked down the side of an old ditch sandwiched between some recent tree and shrub planting and a former field hedge. The recent planting held some interesting species both native, like the Aspen (could we do with some Beavers here - might help raise the water levels in the ponds!), Sweet Chestnut, a variety of Ash with complete leaves and a scratty Rose shrub with flowers scented of Apples known as Sweet Briar.
On the bank of the ditch was a single Yellow Loosestrife which we couldn't make our mind up whether or not it was a garden escape or one of the  native species. If it is one of the natives we'd err towards Common Yellow Loosestrife rather than Dotted Yellow Loosestrife due to those lanceolate leaves, or has it jumped the fence, thoughts anyone?

A little further on to have a look at Lesser Trefoil's spiked tips to the leaflets and inspect some Hairy Tare we disturbed a couple of small Frogs hidden in the grass.

A moment of botanical embarrassment occurred a few minutes later when we mis-dentified a large grass as Tufted Hair Grass which in fact was a grass we've never heard of Tall Fescue. Always good to see something new.
We had to leave at lunchtime today but stayed with the group as they looked at the next pond. Lots of Water Violet here which was good to see but not a lot of water which wasn't as this is a known Great Crested Newt breeding pond - again there is perhaps too much Greater Reedmace. The pond is split into two by a narrow causeway. The larger half is now smothered and ruined by that nasty invasive n New Zealand Pygmy Weed. All was not lost though as DE wandered into the margins and came out with another unknown plant and another we've walked past 100 times, a species of rush but an unusual one as it had nodes. It could have one of a couple of species or a hybrid, a sample was collected for closer inspection later. We find it amazing that a pretty unassuming pond and a bit of damp grassland on the edge of a housing and industrial estate can still have a plant that even the experts can readily identify lurking among the super-abundant and commonplace species like Brambles, Tall Oat Grass, Greater Reedmace and Greater Willowherb.Just shows you what's out there to be found if you look closely enough...and have an expert to hand.
It was also good to see a nice fresh Large Skipper after our last somewhat tatty ones.

If you are in Safari-land please do get involved with the Biodiverse Society if you can, it's a fantastic learning experience and great fun.
Where to next? It's the weekend but we're working tomorrow so any safari-ing will have to wait until Sunday.
In the meantime let us know who's hiding undetected in your outback...well you wouldn't know would you if they're hiding undetected!


cliff said...

Cracking Large Skipper photo Dave & interesting stuff from your Biodiverse Society wander. I'd be well out of my depth in that company.

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