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.
Carex spicata was the most frequent sedge though Dave picked out C. muricata too.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
This subspecies of ‘Sea-pink’ is classed as Critically Endangered and only found around here and at a site near Aldershot.