Field meeting reports

Meeting date: 4 July 2004

(Leader: Alan Knapp)

Had it been a sunny morning, the sloping downland above Findon would have been breathtaking with its calcicolous herbs – the golden Leontodon hispidus (Rough Hawkbit), the subtly different yellow drifts of Galium verum (Lady’s Bedstraw), the delicate blue heads of Scabiosa columbaria (Small Scabious), mats of Asperula cynanchica (Squinancywort) just coming into bloom…. But it was still a pleasant sight in the grey conditions as Alan led his battalion of ten troops on an assault on the Iron Age ramparts.

This was another BSBI Local Change meeting and Alan had a hit-list of some species recorded previously but not yet accounted for: it was absorbing work and by 11.30 we were comfortably behind his schedule for the day.  A feature of the meeting was the way in which the topography perversely refused to agree with the parameters laid down by the tetrad boundaries so that frequent reference was made to GPS sets.  Having at length ascended to the top of the first bank we sat down to lunch and watched the dark clouds advancing.  There followed a wet afternoon, though the rain never really limited botany and a score of about two hundred species was respectable for open chalk with just a little leaching in places.

Looking back on the day, it was remarkable mainly for the calcicoles which we did not find – notably Blackstonia perfoliata (Yellow-wort) and Helianthemum nummularium (Rock-rose).  Walking back lower down the slope we picked up the missing Anthyllis vulneraria (Kidney Vetch) in quite large cushions, but it was just as well that Jenny had found her single spike of Phyteuma orbiculare (Round-headed Rampion) earlier because it was the only one.