Meeting date: 27 April 2014
(Leader: Nick Sturt)
With a poor weather forecast some re-thinking was required, but the first priority was for the party of ten to view the fine Populus nigra ssp. betulifolia (Black Poplar) standing by the main road near the Cowdray Ruins car park. Frances knowledgeably ‘explained’ the tree – which has the distinction of being the tallest specimen in the county, and was obligingly coming into leaf in this early season. During this, however, umbrellas were deployed followed by a retreat to the cars. To Minstead, notwithstanding, to investigate the heath, culminating in the sandy verges of the scattering of cottages that is Quaggs Corner: here a number of Spring annuals were on show, including Myosotis discolour (Changing Forget-me-not) and the desired Cerastium semidecandrum (Little Mouse-ear) on the missing list for the tetrad. Two planted flowering shrubs challenged the collective expertise of those assembled and so twigs were taken in the hope of their mystery being revealed after a spell in a vase. At one point there was a good view of a slow-worm and Steven regaled a riveted audience with details of its diet. In the afternoon Stedham Common was the focus and it was possible to observe the good management work done by the SWT in the form of Polygala vulgaris (Common Milkwort), Trichophorum germanicum (Deergrass) and Eriophorum angustifolium (Common Cottongrass). It was quite a clement session but had the captain declared the innings fifteen minutes sooner his team would not have been drenched by one of the forecast downpours.