TUESDAY 4TH AUGUST 2020

RAUCEBY WARREN, LINCS + DCW

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)

DUKE’S COVERT

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.

MONDAY 15TH JULY 2019

Bole with DCW

Bole? “Bole is a village and civil parish in the Bassetlaw district of Nottinghashire…” Population 247 at the last count. We spent the day around Bole Ings (and I kept remembering England winning the cricket world cup the previous day for some reason).

We began the day in the cool of a ‘tall-herb fen’ dominated by Meadowsweet Filipendula ulmaria with splashes of Purple-loosestrife Lythrum salicaria and Reedmace Typha latifolia with Yellow Loosestrife Lysimachia vulgaris a speciality. It was also home to a lot of hungry mosquitoes.

Yellow Loosestrife

And then it was out into the sunny and rather warm, post-industrial land associated with the West Burton power station where Common Centaury and Yellow-wort were present with Juncus compressus in the wetter areas.

Juncus compressus

Dave’s thorough investigation along a drain resulted in a further good selection of aquatics that included Marsh Horsetail Equisetum palustre and Glyceria notata.

All but one of the dozen or so skippers we saw were Essex. I saw one Large and one probable Small.

Essex Skipper

The genus Helophilus and its close relatives are easy to pick out with their striped thorax. This is a male H. pendulus. The generic name is appropriate as they seem to enjoy a spot of sun-bathing, often near water.

Helophilus pendulus

Scarcest plant of the day was Opposite-leaved Pondweed Groenlandia densa which Dave knew was there. No matter where we go in the county, Dave has been before and pretty much knows what we will find. This is an RPR species known from just a couple of localities in Notts in the vicinity of Bole and it is declining nationally due to eutrophication and falling water tables.

Opposite-leaved Pondweed (with Callitriche)