Thursday, 16 July 2009

Meet the locals

On the scale of "rare to common", the word "local" is used to describe species that are not widespread but, where they do occur, they thrive. Consider the woolly thistle. Although apparently frequent in the south midlands, and despite plenty of apparently good habitat on the downs, it only grows in a few isolated places here. But where it does occur, it seems to do well.

Ragged robin is probably common to many, but on my rambles over the parched landscapes of East Kent, it is rarely seen. I see more of its relative, the Nottingham catchfly, which is local bordering on rare.

We are lucky to have a few colonies of marsh helleborines, which are at their best at the moment. A rare plant, or just local? Looking at NBN Gateway, sites are scattered throughout England, Wales and Ireland, with fewer in Scotland.

In the avian world, the same applies. We see flocks of 20 or so corn buntings every winter in the same place, and hear the jingling call every summer, but only in favoured areas. They have their chosen habitat, and are very rarely seen away from it. Perhaps Warren in the heart of the weald could tell us how many records he has of corn buntings over the years?
Another case in point, paragliders chose their habitat carefully, needing a combination of wind, steep hillside and soft-landing area. Chose the wrong habitat, and they would have more than their bums in a sling.


Mary said...

That thistle looks very interesting. Haven't seen any of those. Wonder if we have that type here. Love the last shot :-) A rare local breed, I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

Woolly Thistle is well named.
Thanks for the pointer to E. palustris distribution. I can visualise the localities indicated there for the IoW and will look for it.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Steve! The marsh helleborine is just gorgeous. Phew! Never seen one. I must look up etymology. We do get woolly thistle up this way in places and ragged robin. I wouldn't a wooly thistle growing in the garden - I know where there are a few plants near at hand - I might gather some seed later in the year!
Thanks for sharing

DOT said...

Re: Corn Buntings did you read this from the BBC news site -