Edge of the rugby field

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Picture of Uckfield Rugby Club
Uckfield Rugby Club and Field Bindweed. Photo: Wendy Tagg

During the 2018 AGM, it was suggested that we should survey neighbourhood greens and pitches. I am doing some of my local green areas including Uckfield Rugby Club. This is a splendid community facility that is sandwiched between the estate where I live and the River Uck. It also borders onto ancient woodland. Before the playing fields were created, just over 50 years ago, it was a hop field.

It is suggested that woodland edge is important for all sorts of species.  The boundary of the rugby field is, in effect, a man-made woodland edge. On my April visit, while surveying the un-mown strip at the edge by the ancient woodland, I found bluebells, wood anemones and a variety of trees and shrubs. While studying these I noticed birds, including a pair of green woodpeckers, moving between the woodland trees and the grass.

In July there were some very attractive grasses that, left to grow undisturbed, were nearly as tall as I am. My favourite was Schedonorus giganteus (Giant Fescue) with its black “knees and ears”. However, it was on a heap of soil, trodden into a miniature hill and partly grown over, that I encountered something a bit more surprising.  I found a pretty little grass with a very fluffy head.  Having scoured my books and keys, I decided it was Polypogon monspeliensis (Annual Beard Grass).  I looked it up in my lovely new Flora of Sussex … and … oh dear.  No sign of it near Uckfield. However, when I checked the ID in the Facebook group it was OK, so into the spreadsheet and off to Matthew it went.

Picture of Annual Beard Grass (Polypogon monspeliensis)
Polypogon monspeliensis (Annual Beard Grass). Photo: Wendy Tagg