A drive of under one hour found us amid new scenery and a couple of fantastically rich Lincs WT nature reserves. Rich at least for the botany but the cloud stubbornly remained and a spitting drizzle accompanied an increasing breeze so the invertebrates mostly kept themselves hidden.

Ploughman’s Spikenard was the first notable plant, found near the western entrance.

Ploughman’s Spikenard (Inula conyzae)

Carex spicata was the most frequent sedge though Dave picked out C. muricata too.

Carex spicata on the left with Carex muricata

Sadly for the less sharp-eyed among us, the long bract on the spicata is not consistent and no help in identification. C. spicata has a ligule that is longer than wide.

Purple Milk-vetch (Astralagus danicus) is one of the specialities here being a local plant confined to old calcareous grassland, mainly in eastern Britain.

Purple Milk-vetch

The sun briefly promised a prolonged appearance and we managed 9 species in total including a couple of Essex Skippers, this one on a head of Yarrow.

The next one was a wonderful treat for me as I hadn’t seen it before (even though it can be found at Wilwell, a few miles from my home) and because I knew what it was without help – other than having it pointed out to me in the first place. In one area, Adder’s-tongue was truly numerous with hundreds of plants across the bed of the old quarry which over the winter is flooded; last winter, to a tremendous depth as evidenced by the snow-white mats of stranded algae.

Adder’s-tongue Fern

Here’s another scarce plant that I recognised though this time I have seen it before – as an arable weed in eastern Notts. This is Dwarf Spurge.

Euphorbia exigua

Two plants of dry calcareous soils, so not found in my neck of the woods are Basil Thyme and Knotted Pearlwort. Despite their habitat preferences their national distributions are quite different with Basil Thyme being southern with strongholds in the North and South Downs and along the Cretaceous chalk from Norfolk to the Cotswolds whilst the pearlwort is mainly northern, though both occur in the Peak District and so are well known to Dave.

Basil Thyme (Clinopodium acinos)
Knotted Pearlwort (Sagina nodosa)

The main objective of the day took some finding but Dave spotted it after about four hours of heads down. A lot of the plants mentioned today are small and low-growing but Smooth Rupturewort is diminutive in the extreme with flowers about 2mm across. Once spotted though, we readily found more at the eastern end of the reserve. Nationally rare, it is found at widely distributed locations throughout England with a minor stronghold in the Brecks.

Heriaria glabra – Smooth Rupturewort.

Determination of the identity was clouded in the field by the styles being indistinguishable with a x10 lens and the stems of the plant being quite hairy (not glabrous) but that is permitted.

Favourites of mine are the two fluellens. I think this is because I found one that was then the first scarce plant of my independent botanical efforts.

Sharp-leaved Fluellen (Kickxia elatine)


For the final hour of out trip east of Grantham, we switched to another Lincs Trust reserve a short drive away that was surely the most floriferous place I’ve ever visited. I took many more pictures but I think three more is enough.

Duke’s Covert

Duke’s Covert is shown as scrub on the OS map and the Trust literature states that it had become overgrown and dominated by Bracken but good management has restored this site which has a lot of Perforate St. John’s-wort, Burnet-saxifrage and Common Knapweed along with Greater Knapweed, Field Scabious, Small Scabious, Harebell, Common Rock-rose, Dropwort, Dwarf Thistle and the very rare inland form of Thrift.

Dwarf Thistle (Cirsium acaule)
Armeria maritima ssp. elongata

This subspecies of ‘Sea-pink’ is classed as Critically Endangered and only found around here and at a site near Aldershot.



Back in Rushcliffe to mop up some missing species for the atlas and the day began with a dull humid feel and developed fair-weather cumulus and a fresh breeze. Despite the wind, we spotted 13 species of butterfly, which is a good total for a day out in Notts and especially good for this agriculturally intensive region. Two of the absentees were Common Blue (though we did see a Brown Argus) and Small Skipper (though we did see Essex Skipper). One Small Copper was the most notable of the sightings.

Dave caught a glimpse of a Spotted Flycatcher in the churchyard (and corrected my flyover Sparrowhawk into a Kestrel – well, we all make mistakes!)

Bifid Hemp-nettle

Plant notables were Bifid Hemp-nettle Galeopsis bifida, Dwarf Spurge Euphorbia exigua and Crimson Clover Trifolium incarnata.

The latter two were along a wide field margin that had previously been sown with a conservation mix and the Phacelia Phacelia tanacetifolia, Borage Borago officinalis and Chicory Cichorium intybus were clearly derived from that source but the others could have found their own way in. The Euphorbia is an RPR species and the Trifolium is an infrequent casual nationally that used to be cultivated a a forage crop and originates from southern Europe.

The verges of some of the lanes had Flax Linum usitatissimum at regular intervals suggesting spillage from a previous harvest.

Thoroton gargoyles

The mason who made the gargoyles had a wicked sense of humour and imagination.

The village is famous (according to the information panel) for its medieval dovecote and if you look carefully, there is actually a Collared Dove perched on top of it.

Thoroton Dovecote

I often wondered (but never bothered to find out) what dovecotes like this were for and it turns out it was for food; the fledglings are very tasty and easy to harvest if you time it before they can fly.