Waltham Brooks

Field meeting reports
Picture of Oenanthe fistulosa (Tubular Water-dropwort)
Oenanthe fistulosa (Tubular Water-dropwort). Photo: Nick Sturt

Meeting date: 28 June 2018

(Leader: Frances Abraham)

There was a good turnout for this scorching meeting to survey the damp grassland, ditches and other wet habitats of the Sussex Wildlife Trust reserve at Coldwaltham in the Arun Valley. The weather had been extraordinarily hot and dry for some weeks with the result that many of the expected species were not on show, and the consequent wails of the leader went on and on and on. Nevertheless, we saw quite a good range of species. Grassland produced Ranunculus sardous (Hairy Buttercup), much Senecio aquaticus (Marsh Ragwort) and a number of sedges.

Picture of Senecio aquaticus (Marsh Ragwort)

Senecio aquaticus (Marsh Ragwort). Photo: Nick Sturt

The damp bed of the disused canal which crosses the Reserve can usually be relied upon for some interesting species although the Cardamine amara (Large-leaved Bittercress) seen there a few weeks earlier had gone. We were pleased to find Veronica scutellata (Marsh Speedwell), V. catenata (Pink Water-speedwell), Myosotis laxa (Tufted Forget-me-not), Ranunculus peltatus (Pond Water-crowfoot), Scutellaria galericulata (Greater Skullcap) and a little Oenanthe fistulosa (Tubular Water-dropwort). The latter has decreased in recent years in the UK as well as in Sussex. There was a large population of the uncommon Catabrosa aquatica (Whorl-grass) in a wet ditch east of the canal. We walked back along the bank of the Arun, admiring a little Butomus umbellatus (Flowering-rush). We were detained by a patch of willows, eventually deciding that one shrub was indeed the hoped-for Salix triandra (Almond Willow) with the distinctive rosewater taste of the well-chewed twigs.

Photo: Nick Sturt