Field meeting reports

Meeting date: 16 May 2004

(Leader: Alan Knapp and Nick Sturt)

Alan nudged the party of twenty away from the cars and down the lane under strong May sunshine and the joyous lark-song that rose above the cries of Linnaean binomials.  Nothing remarkable so far except unusual quantities of Lithospermum officinale, whose English name was not recalled by everyone even when Rita was informed that it began with G.  Short chalk turf by the lane yielded some more refined species as we began to head downhill into a valley whose distant slopes bore patches of the watery blue that is Veronica chamaedrys (Germander Speedwell) en masse.  An abandoned arable field absorbed members for some time – there was more of the Lithospermum and also Euphorbia exigua – but at length we noticed in the middle distance a somewhat impatient expression on the Knapp visage semaphoring to us quietly but emphatically that it was time to move on.  So we followed him up onto the south-facing slope where he hoped to find some interesting plants on soil disturbed by rabbit activity.  A few meagre specimens of Ranunculus parviflorus (Small-flowered Buttercup) pacified him and while he was off his guard we severally proceeded to sit in the grass at ease until he realised that it was clearly felt to be lunchtime.  Much more generous amounts of Ranunculus parivflorus were discovered after refreshment, some patches in association with Arenaria serpyllifolia (Thyme-leaved Sandwort); and there was also Cynoglossum officinale (Hound’s-tongue) and a grizzled skipper in mint condition.  Descending to the valley bottom again, we made our into the shade of a wood where we crossed the tetrad boundary from 00N to 00I and enthusiastically started a new card with two new species Listera ovata (Twayblade) and Ruscus aculeatus (Butcher’s-broom).  The highlight of the walk back was not Alan being mistaken for a certain P A Harmes (who?) but a field edge with Petroselinum segetum (Corn parsley).  And so along a lane (where Rod pointed out elm leaves with the chewings of white-letter hairstreak caterpillars) back to the cars, uplifted.