Field meeting reports

Meeting date: 6 September 2008

(Leaders: Mary Briggs, Frances Abraham)

Sixteen assorted waterproof outfits assembled for a splash around Pulborough in the company of our President and Frances.  Right from the start there was plenty to interest and the station seemed to exercise a magnetic hold on the group as Alan burdened the card with some choice records such as Erigeron acer (Blue Fleabane) and Vulpia myurus  (Rat’s-tail Fescue).  Meanwhile the shadowy figure of A. Spiers was lurking ready to administer the coup de grâce in the rather unprepossessing form of Poa humilis.  (Those of a nervous disposition are advised to ignore the pun.)  Edging slowly along a footpath past much Populus tremula (Aspen), and gleaning species such as Vicia hirsuta (Hairy Tare) from a neighbouring rough meadow, at length we came to the church, and binoculars fastened on the encrusted Horsham slabs above the north aisle: there we made out Ceterach officinarum (Rustyback) and a Polypody which we wanted to be P. cambricum.  By now the light showers we had experienced had become more emphatic and it seemed wise to take an early lunch under the shelter of the roof of what was once the lych-gate.  The party remained in good spirits and sorties were made to examine what was definitely Polypodium cambricum on the churchyard wall, and to collect further species for the card.  Eventually it looked bright enough to start the afternoon session, but no sooner had we crossed the London Road than further deluges occurred.  Nonetheless we ventured along a track where Ceterach again adorned the walls, and across the cricket pitch where play had been abandoned, while sportsmen in the pavilion marvelled at our hardiness or possibly foolhardiness.  We added further species from a stream and its wooded banks and returned across the cricket field, Helen tenderly holding her umbrella over a bedraggled Alan.  And so at last it was our turn to ‘draw stumps’.  We declared (rather than admitted that rain had stopped play) having put up a remarkable score of over 200 species, no less than 100 of which were new for the tetrad, and taking TQ01P through the magic 300 barrier by a comfortable margin.