East Head

Field meeting reports
Picture of Centaurium pulchellum (Lesser Centaury)
Centaurium pulchellum (Lesser Centaury). Photo: Brad Scott

Meeting date: 13 July 2016

(Leader: Mike Shaw)

It could not just have been the prospect of a day at the seaside that brought out 15 members to this meeting, including several from vc14. It must also have been the special lure of the good plants offered by the long, rolling, sand-dune spit couched at the entrance to Chichester Harbour and ably protected by the National Trust. Arthur was with us again, and even that rara avis Trevor flew in from his eerie in Crowborough… and before Mike had completed a head-count the numbers swelled further to nineteen plus three NT Rangers and Simeon who was on work experience with them. (Alas, we could not match Helen’s recent East Sussex record of 27!). The large party moved off and gently fragmented into separate groups, one of which was discussing the mealiness or otherwise of Atriplex portulacoides (Sea Purslane) while, in another, Steven was finding an unexpected Euphorbia helioscopia (Sun Spurge).

Picture of Limonium humile (Lax-flowered Sea-lavender)
Limonium humile (Lax-flowered Sea-lavender). Photo: Brad Scott

Another satellite group found a nice patch of Eryngium maritimum  (Sea Holly) and next to that Honkenya peploides (Sea Sandwort). Matthew was able to demonstrate the differences between Elytrigia atherica and E. juncea (Sea and Sand Couch) which were obligingly growing side by side. Moving slowly northwards, Oenothera x fallax (a local hybrid Evening Primrose) was encountered along with the clovers Trifolium arvense and scabrum (Hare’s-foot and Rough).

Picture of botanists
Dry botanists. Photo: Brad Scott

Lunch was taken among the dunes and then Mike set us recording again, with the re-find of Puccinellia distans (Reflexed Saltmarsh-grass) a highlight, and much Centaurium pulchellum (Lesser Centaury) and Trifolium fragiferum (Strawberry Clover) in the dune-slacks. Meanwhile Elisabeth looked critically at Epilobia (Willowherbs) and Trevor with eagle eye pounced upon the wizened remains of a lonely Hypochaeris glabra (Smooth Cat’s-ear).

Picture of Hypochaeris glabra (Smooth Cat’s-ear)
Hypochaeris glabra (Smooth Cat’s-ear). Photo: Brad Scott

Then the rain came… hard… and there was an unseemly rush for the distant cars. A total of 143 species were seen on the day, with fourteen of those new to the tetrad since 2000 and three SPA re-finds. Total records for SZ79U numbered 402.  Our thanks go to Mike for leading and to Lisa and her NT colleagues who helped us on the day.

Picture of botanists
Wet botanists. Photo: Brad Scott