Friday, 29 August 2014

The "A" word

I refuse to say the "A" word this early in the year, but it's good to see a new colony of "A" lady's-tresses on Walmer beach, about 30 of them where I've presumably overlooked them although they are right beside a path. 

The usual patch by the road is poor this year, with just a handful poking through, while up on the Leas a manic mowing regime has wiped them out for the season.

It appears to be a good year for "A" gentian judging by their profusion on Foxhill Down, Postling Down and the usual little patch in Kingsdown.

Continuing the comparison game, burnet saxifrage seems more abundant than usual, while small and field scabious are scarce - perhaps the former can put its head above the rich sward, while the latter cannot. 

I look forward to seeing the Lydden devil's bit scabious soon, as I have seen my first of the year elsewhere.

Another scabious that's doing well is the naturalised sweet scabious at the root of the cliffs by Ramsgate harbour - a harsh environment of concrete, chalk, pollution and heat that these and other opportunists are enjoying.

Hopefully it will be a good fungus year..........

And finally, it's Folkestone Triennial time again - always a good time. This sign in London struck me as hopeful.....

 ..... and a series of benches have been designed as books - which one is this one?

Friday, 22 August 2014

Further fauna and flora from the far west

The peace and quiet of Skokholm makes it easy to concentrate on the fine details of the place - the geology, geography, weather, flora and fauna have all come under minute scrutiny over the years. We tried to contribute our own little bits, but this was of course mostly confirming what has already been recorded rather than making new finds.

I followed the long-established but lapsed butterfly transect, which was not difficult so long as one can count to 100 for the meadow browns. Apart from the odd small copper and peacock there was little else, although looking back on earlier counts it was clear that a greater variety had been present a decade or so ago, including good numbers of dark green fritillaries that bred on the abundant wild pansy. Apparently they were over-collected, and breeding ceased. This raises the question - should they not be reintroduced? I'll follow it up.

Man's involvement in the island's fauna is clear amongst the rabbit population, as Lockley the farmer (before he became Lockley the conservationist) brought in different breeds in the hope of marketing their fur, leading to a legacy of chinchilla-bunnies....

....... black bunnies.......

..... as well as normal bunnies.

The old red sandstone provides a lovely background to the sparse flora

 A few stream beds are lush with unusual plants, including sea milkwort, the bizarre allseed,bog pimpernel and lesser skullcap.

Scarlet pimpernels

The sea was warm enough for swimming, and was especially welcome as there are no baths or showers on the island.  The grey seals kept me company.

Back on the mainland, the glorious sun turned to Welsh rain, but didn't dampen the spirits because Pembrokeshire is so beautiful.

This is a red kidney vetch - weird.
When the sun reemerged, it brought out silver-studded blues- a very welcome addition to my life list. They are just gorgeous. 

And a grayling posed for a series of photos too :-)