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.
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.
I didn’t think we would beat the previous day’s total from our meeting at Rhyl (see last week’s post) but we did! 152 species for the day. It was a record breaking meeting in other ways with an amazing 12 people turning up to meet me and go out botanising, including friends from not just Warrington Plant Group but the Flintshire BSBI group as well, not forgetting the BSBI Cheshire vice-county recorder. Thank you to those who attended for all your contributions 🙂
Fumaria muralis ssp boraei photographed by Phil James, det Martyn Stead
Having explored the vascular plant flora of Lumb Brook Wood last year, we thought it would be a good place to record mosses and liverworts. The site is mature woodland, is thought to be ancient at least in part and has the benefit of a stream running through it, so we thought it had lots of bryological potential.
Our first coastal meeting turned up our first new county record! Debs and I spent ages looking at a sow-thistle in one of the ditches on Norton Marsh before concluding it was a mystery plant – a hybrid, perhaps. We both went up to it thinking it was going to be field sow thistle Sonchus arvensis on account of its overall size, look and large flowerheads. But no. Where were the massive glandular hairs for which this plant is famous amongst botanists? Seriously, the hairs are legendary, you can see them from across the street they are so large and abundant. No hairs. Back to the drawing board. Continue reading