Friday, 19 May 2017

Habeo Blogdt

It's a bit late for a New Year's Resolution but I really must keep this blog up-to-date. If nothing else it's a good way of keeping a diary and I often look back to see what I saw where and when.

After a dry April, we now have a wet May, so today's note relates to a historical book, Hanbury and Marshall's Flora of Kent (1899), available online here.

It's noticeable, of course, that many of the records show that specimens were "collected", sometimes in armfuls, which must have cleared some Just-About-Managing species from an area.  This quote is relevant, but probably not correct in many cases:

George Chichester Oxenden (1797-1875) an author of satiric verses and parodies, was also an orchid enthusiast who had provided Darwin with several specimens. Oxenden was included on Darwin's presentation list for Fertilisation of Orchids (1862), and his assistance is noted on pp 31 n., 43, and 78 of the same.
Unfortunately he would not have known Jocelyn Brooke (1908—1966) who lived nearby at Bishopsbourne and collected plants in early life before reforming later on.

Hanbury and Marshall were obviously impressed with our part of the county, and the last sentence of the description is particularly glowing.

Most species entries are fascinating, such as that of shepherd's needle, Scandix pectin-veneris,
which is recorded as "colonist, common throughout the county".  Not so now, with just a handful of sites.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

An Orchid for Spring

Laurie Lee's A Rose for Winter retraces his steps through Andalusia, and we were pleased to retrace some of ours to see more of this fascinating land. Spring is well under way in Spain in mid-March so I'll call this trip An Orchid for Spring.

Travelling conditions in Spain have improved immensely even since the 1950s, and we were, of course, able to drive into the mountains in comfort. The first stop, after a civilised arrival at Gibraltar airport, was at a migration watchpoint near Tarifa where we were lucky to watch seven black storks and an Egyptian vulture fly in from Africa, astonishingly close across the straits.
Even luckier, a large boulder by the dirt road held a group of griffon vultures, which had presumably also arrived that day.

Our plans were to explore some new areas along the Atlantic coast and into the hills, looking for birds, bugs and botany, encouraged by reports of a wet winter and a warm spring that should bring on the flowers that we missed on our earlier drier trips. We would be guided again by John Cantelo's Birding Cadiz website and publication, as well as by a new Crossbill book Western Andalusia which he also co-wrote.

We were also inspired to return to Andalusia by a tantalisingly distant view five years ago of a pueblo blanco which we resolved to visit sometime -
...  and Olvera did not disappoint. A marvellous setting with church and Moorish castle on a rock, which could be visited for a pittance, with a fascinating museum included.

The scene is set - the weather (mostly) fine. What will we see?