Eastbourne downland

Field meeting reports

Meeting date: 15 June 2013

(Leader: Roy Wells)

When planning a field meeting in the middle of June there is a slight worry that the day may turn out to be blisteringly hot.  No such worries on the 15th this year, when a strong gale blasted the Downs all day.  This was undoubtedly the reason why only four of our keenest members turned up.  Recording this year has concentrated on those species that we are really keen to refind. Tephroseris integrifolia (Field Fleawort) is one of these little blighters. Propelled headlong from Butt’s Brow by the aforementioned gale we dropped down onto the very steep north-eastern escarpment and immediately found shelter, spending several hours of super botanising on the sun-warmed slopes.  Many downland favourites were found including Briza media (Quaking Grass), showy Polygala sp. (a Milkwort), Helianthemum nummularia (Common Rock-rose) and humble Plantago media (Hoary Plantain).  Thymus sp. (Thyme) and Origanum vulgare (Marjoram) scented our path.  After lunch we ascended once more to search for the Tephroseris in full exposure of the blast but, alas, found it not. Then down again to explore an abandoned chalk pit where Adonis Blues were flying.

Ascending once more, we battled our way back in the teeth of that unrelenting gale. We were pleased with our eighteen new records for the day, considering that each of our two tetrads already had at least 350 records.