Meeting date: 4 June 2016
(Leader: Roy Wells)
Could this cold grey morning really be in early June? That’s what we asked ourselves as we gathered at Rowland Wood, the Butterfly Conservation Reserve at East Hoathly. Well, there had been no really warm weather to date, just a slow damp spring easing into a cool start to summer. What plants would have benefitted from these conditions this year? We found the answer: sedges, they were doing splendidly, looking confident and healthy. We found ten species, with five of them, Carex demissa (Yellow Sedge), C. laevigata (Smooth-stalked Sedge), C. leporina (Oval Sedge), C. pallescens (Pale Sedge) and C. pilulifera (Pill Sedge) being new records for the reserve.
We made our slow way along one of the rides, seeing many common woodland plants, and then searched an open area that had been clear felled of close planted conifers a couple of years ago. This is now recovering and we found Silene flos-cuculi (Ragged-Robin), Polygala vulgaris (Common Milkwort), Vicia sativa ssp. segetalis and subsp. nigra (Common Vetch) and Vulpia bromoides (Squirreltail Fescue). A search in this area for Viola riviniana (Common Dog-violet) a food plant of the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary found some encouraging re-occurrence. We made 140 records for the day. After lunch the sun came out and it began to feel like summer. A visit then to Park Corner Heath, another part of the reserve was disappointing as Platanthera bifolia (Lesser Butterfly Orchid), Comarum palustre (Marsh Cinquefoil) and Ranunculus tripartitus (Three-lobed Crowfoot), previously known to be there, were not found.