Over the past few years when ‘square-bashing’ for the atlas was the priority, segueing into birds occurred later in the year than this. The objective of the day was the avifauna but there were lots of plants to see – and it’s just as well because birds were very unexciting, though it did begin well with several sightings of a Hobby or Hobbies.

We headed off to the Trent to begin with but the tide was in and the river had backed-up, covering the beaches that hold some interesting plants. However some were on show including Tasteless Water-pepper Persicaria mitis, Beggarticks Bidens frondosa, Marsh Yellow-cress Rorippa palustris and, I think Water-pepper Persicaria hydropiper.

Marsh Yellow-cress – Rorippa palustris
River Trent below Cromwell Weir

Anglers, we learned, come from far and wide (well Hertfordshire at least) to try for a big Barbel at what is the premier site for such a challenge, with a recent specimen approaching the national record (of 21lb 2oz).

Does anyone know what this is?

Dave brought it to my attention as looking ‘not right’ for a Herring Gull with a mantle that is too dark, but not dark enough for a LBB. I had a go at pinning it down but gull identification has moved on since I was keen and is now a subject in itself.

Trifid Bur-marigold

Trifid Bur-marigold Bidens tripartita is the native version of the American Beggarticks.

White Melilot

White Melilot Melilotus albus, is pretty easy as the others are yellow-flowered (but beware albinos, says Dave). I only saw the one plant.

The foregoing was before we entered the RSPB reserve which as I have already said, was rather short on interesting birds, though there were many more than the 10 Little Egrets that I managed to count (and we did see one or two Greenshanks and a Great Egret late on) but the flora was diverse thtoughout though without any really notables.

Greater Bird’s-foot Trefoil

On Greater Bird’s-foot Trefoil, the calyx teeth curve outwards (at least the lower ones) while in bud. These flowers are a little advanced but the character is still visible.

Greater Duckweed

Greater Duckweed Spirodela polyrhiza is said (by Dave) to be spreading. Here it is with Lemna minor and Lemna trisulca (though I can’t make the latter out in the photo).

There was reported to be a Caspian Gull in the area but don’t let that influence your gull id.



The strong chilly morning breeze became a welcome zephyr later in the day as a summer’s day made a rare appearance for a plant-filled main course with invertebrates for sides.

We were polishing off SK74D by crossing the river whence we could glimpse Kneeton church where we had meandered on 30th April on our earlier excursion into the tetrad.

Ewan’s Wood with Kneeton church beyond – looking south-east from Ferry Farm

We saw and I photo’d enough stuff (not always successfully!) to cover a week of wanderings and there are a couple of identifications still to be determined so I’m going to have to be selective. Great Yellow-cress Rorippa amphibia and Hemlock Water-dropwort Oenanthe crocata at the edge of the swollen Trent were the first of an array of wetland species that made me realise how poorly I know them – I find them slow to get to grips with because I haven’t targeted aquatic habitats, because they are often out of reach and because they vary even more so than terrestrial plants depending whether they are in deep water, slow-flowing or fast-flowing water, emergent or submerged – or at least many do.

Marsh Yellow-cress

Here’s one from the edge of the sailing lake but there must be about sixteen other aquatics that I would not be able to name spontaneously – including several sedges and rushes. I have left it all rather late in life but I might just manage the local ones before my field days come to an end.

It doesn’t help when I am so easily distracted by invertebrates – and there are so many of these that I will never know them well but this is an easy one, though the markings vary – a Nursery-web Spider, Pisaura mirabilis.

Pisaura mirabilis

The wonderful Musk Thistle is numerous on the Trentside pasture; perhaps because it is readily recognisable as a thistle its splendid appearance is underestimated by growers.

Musk Thistle Carduus nutans

We found a flower-rich meadow that hosted many scarce plants including Pepper-saxifrage Silaum silaus. Notables, not already mentioned included Squirrel-tail Fescue Vulpia bromoides, Water Dock Rumex hydrolapathium, Amphibious Bistort Persicaria amphibia, Stream Water-crowfoot Ranunculus penicillatus, Blue Water-speedwell Veronica anagallis-aquatica, Spiked Sedge Carex spicata, Knotted Clover Trofolium striatum, Greater Bird’s-foot Trefoil Lotus pedunculatus, Little Mouse-ear Cerastium semidecandrum, Fennel Pondweed Potamogeton pectinatus, Common Spotted-orchid Dactyllorhiza fuchsii, Southern Marsh Orchid Dactylorhiza praetermissa, Water Forget-me-not Myosotis scorpiodes, Flowering Rush Butomus umbellatus, Greater Duckweed Spirodella polyrhiza , Rat’s-tail Fescue Vulpia myuros, Yellow-wort Blackstonia perfoliata and Common Centaury Centaurium erythraea.

The full list for the tetrad (SK74D) was an amazing 346 taxa.