Adur Valley

Field meeting reports

Meeting date: 10 August 2002

(Leaders: Beryl Clough, Alan Knapp)

Members gathering at the lay-by on the A283 studied Senecio inaequidens while Beryl and Alan adjusted their plans in order to avoid the unforeseen Adur Bath Tub Race. At the second marshalling point we were detained by studying the glandular pits on the fruits of Erodium moschatum (Musk Storksbill) growing on the verge, but we were soon hard at work on the bank of one of the ditches near the river where attention was focused on aquatics; or, more accurately, Alan demonstrated some subtle points about such plants as Potamogeton lucens (Shining Pondweed) and Alisma lanceolatum (Narrow-leaved Water-plantain) while Beryl and Paul explored the world of Poaceae in the hope of being able to distinguish Festuca pratensis from F. arundinacea without resorting to the domestic microscope.

Berula erecta (Lesser Water-parsnip) and a little Oenanthe aquatica (Fine-leaved Water-dropwort) were admired, but the content of these early ditches appeared to be remarkably uniform in character, dominated by P. lucens, Elodea nuttallii and Ceratophyllum demersum. It was difficult to penetrate this layer to find any other species which might be lurking below, even though Alan went majestically through his entire repertoire of techniques of casting his grapnel before a spellbound audience, many of whom must have been reminded of the fly-fishing skills of the legendary J R Hartley. His master-stroke, however, was more reminiscent of the tactician Rommel: calling a lunch so early that it took even dedicated diners completely by surprise.

The sunshine which smiled on our picnic soon dissipated. We moved eastwards under gathering storm-clouds but all eyes were focused on the richest of the ditches where several notable species were growing in association: Carex pseudocyperus (Cyperus Sedge), Hippuris vulgaris (Mare’s-tail), Hottonia palustris (Water-violet) still in flower, Groenlandia densa (Opposite-leaved Pondweed) and Myriophyllum verticillatum (Whorled Water-milfoil); the last seems to have declined significantly in recent years.

Suddenly thunder and lightning threatened ever nearer. By the time cars were regained the rain was torrential and we fought our way back past already soaked race enthusiasts heading towards the event. There was the feeling that for the captains of the bathtubs it was going to be a difficult decision whether to set sail with plugs in or out.