Widewater Lagoon

Field meeting reports
Picture of Polygonum oxyspermum ssp raii (Ray's Knotgrass)
Polygonum oxyspermum ssp raii (Ray’s Knotgrass). Photo: Nick Sturt

Meeting date: 18 July 2018

(Leader: Sue Denness)

It was a hot summer’s day when fourteen SBRS members met up with four members of the WOW group in Widewater Lagoon carpark. WOW (World of Widewater) helps to promote, care for and protect the site, which has Local Nature Reserve status. Widewater is a man-made, landlocked, brackish lagoon approximately 1200m long. The site extends into three tetrads and Nick duly stepped in to take charge of the recording cards. We started along the side of the car park where the bank of the lagoon was dominated by shrubs, including Tamarix gallica (Tamarisk). Here we found a hybrid bindweed, Calystegia x lucana.

Picture of Calystegia x lucana

Calystegia x lucana. Photo: Brad Scott

Moving down to the saltmarsh, the first part was dominated by Juncus gerardii (Saltmarsh Rush) with Suaeda maritima (Annual Sea-blite), Aster tripolium (Sea Aster) and Triglochin maritima (Sea Arrowgrass).  On a rocky bank we saw Crithmum maritimum (Rock Samphire) before crossing a raised footpath that bisects the lagoon. Frankenia laevis (Sea-heath) was abundant in the next area. This usually forms impressive purple swathes across the saltmarsh but unfortunately it had become rather dried up in the summer heat and was past its best. After lunch, we continued west along the edge of the lagoon. This was an open sandy area where a diverse range of plants was recorded including Catapodium marinum (Sea Fern-grass), Anthyllis vulneraria ssp. vulneraria (Kidney Vetch), Orobanche minor (Common Broomrape) and Puccinellia maritima (Common Saltmarsh-grass). As the group scrambled up on to the promenade at the westerly end of the lagoon, Mike took a sample of an Aster for determination and later reported it to be Aster novi-belgii  (Confused Michaelmas-daisy). A self-seeded shrub on the same bank was thought to be Cotoneaster hjemqvistii (Hjelmqvist’s Cotoneaster). Thanks to the BSBI referee, Richard was later able to confirm this. We returned along the promenade spotting Raphanus raphanistrum ssp. maritimus (Sea Radish) on the shingle and then Medicago polymorpha (Toothed Medick) in fruit on the side of the path. Finally, a hunt on the shingle around the beach huts was rewarded by finding Polygonum oxyspermum ssp. raii (Ray’s Knotgrass). The group then headed for the kiosk to enjoy ice cream and cold drinks.

See also: Sue Rubinstein ‘Widewater Lagoon Bryathlon’. Sussex Bryophytes. 10 August 2018 https://sussexbryophytes.wordpress.com/2018/08/10/widewater-lagoon-bryathlon/

Photo: Nick Sturt