The New Year in Burtonwood dawned wet and windy, but a small group of hardy botanists were not deterred (much) and set off in heavy rain to see how many flowering plants we could find. The weather had been rather cold in the lead-up to the survey and we decided we would be happy to find seven species in flower – one each!
It started well with two species in the car park and another four in a nearby arable field. On the edge of the road Sam found white deadnettle and that was our seven species – we could officially retire to the pub at this point. Did we stop there? No. The pub was not open yet 😦 so we continued our walk along the Sankey Valley.
Our excursion to Gorse Covert Mounds started rather unpromisingly with heavy rain and only two of us arriving for the trip. In fact, it rained so hard throughout the meeting that I don’t have any photos to prove we even went out! My phone is supposed to be waterproof, but there are limits…….
We met at the usual place for Gorse Covert Mounds, an urban park sandwiched between a main road and housing development in Birchwood, east of Warrington. There are a variety of habitats represented here, including neutral grassland, plantation woodland and scrub, ponds and a small area of relict raised bog at the eastern end – Pestfurlong Moss. So we were hopeful of a reasonable species count even with only two of us looking.
Given the weather, I was quite happy with our total of 130 species, including four species of Sphagnum we couldn’t resist looking at at Pestfurlong Moss.
There were only three of us on this meeting. Perhaps the not-very-salubrious meeting place put people off: KFC car park in Rhuddlan. Said car park was a botanical record-breaker, though, with an amazing 81 species! The joke is that we always find more in the car park than anywhere else, but with ongoing construction disturbance, seeded grassland, scrubby bits and blocked drains we had an array of different habitats to investigate and it showed.
As well as the car park (!) we pottered around quiet lanes, villages, Pengwern college and parts of Bodelwyddan hospital and were pleased to score two new 10km records. I can’t imagine why fox-and-cubs and potato haven’t been recorded here before, aside from the fact that it’s an under-recorded area in general.
A more interesting record was corn parsley Petroselinum segetum, which we found opposite the entrance to the college and again on the edge of the hospital grounds. If confirmed, this might be a new county record for a species with a south-easterly distribution. The plants keyed out as corn parsley, but I’d like to go back this year and get a specimen for independent verification. I think umbellifers can be tricksy and I wouldn’t want to claim something unless I thought I could prove it!
I had discovered records of sand leek in Warrington when poking around the rECOrd database in search of interesting and rare plants:
This was intriguing. I was down the pub with Dave Earl, the county recorder for South Lancs, so I asked him about the SJ68 records which would be on his patch. He had heard about it, and thought it was along the old cut near what is now Morrisons in south Warrington. And the idea for the hunt for the sand leek was born! Continue reading
Having been here in the winter to investigate its bryophyte flora, we agreed that it would be fun to come back in the summer to see the flowering plants. It was a wet day, but we were not deterred (much) and duly met up at the pub to see what we could find. Here is the Pool on our October visit – it was very dried up and about half the size on our May visit despite the recent (and ongoing) rainfall.
This is my sixth year counting natterjack toads on the North Wales coast and I’m pleased to say that after a poor first night this year, the second night’s count was excellent with over 60 toads across all participating teams 😀 I’ve also heard that the count at the Cheshire site was very good, so it certainly looks as though the reintroduced populations are all doing well. Happy news in a world of sad extinctions.
We had another successful day out in Flintshire recording plants. This square is under-recorded, and doesn’t look very exciting on paper, but we found over 160 species between the four of us 😀