Normans Bay

Field meeting reports
Picture of a group of botanists at Normans Bay
Botanical interest at Normans Bay. Photo Evan Jones

Meeting date: 8 June 2019

(Leaders: Jacqueline Rose/Judy Clark/Ellen Campbell)

The sun shone so it was never really cold despite the increasing wind. Eight members came despite the weather warning and possibility of cancellation. Despite having to examine often tiny plants in most difficult conditions, everyone remained cheerful throughout! Evan Jones gave us a brief history of the area. First we looked at some remnant saltmarsh, where large tussocks of grass made walking difficult. Limonium vulgare (Common Sea-lavender) was showing signs of flowering. Plantago maritima (Sea Plantain) and Triglochin maritimum (Sea Arrowgrass) were growing helpfully side-by-side for comparison. Puccinellia distans (Reflexed Saltmarsh-grass) was on two ‘islands’ in the brackish ditch alongside, which was edged by Aster tripolium (Sea Aster) and Atriplex portulacoides (Sea-purslane).

Then we moved over the road to the large shingly and grassy area. We had made a recce a few days before and were dismayed that many species looked very browned off, but it’s amazing what a bit of rain will do. Despite our misgivings Glaux maritima (Sea-milkwort) did perform, though it wasn’t flowering as splendidly as it did in 2018. There were lots of clovers for us to hone our ID skills on, including the uncommon Trifolium striatum (Knotted Clover) and the even more uncommon T. squamosum (Sea Clover). The distinctive neophyte Cynosurus echinatus (Rough Dog’s-tail) was abundant though many of the plants were stunted. Galeopsis angustifolia (Red Hemp-nettle) has long been known from the eastern end of Norman’s Bay but it was good to find lots of seedlings on an area of bare shingle where we hadn’t seen them before. Carex distans (Distant Sedge) was growing beside a patch of saltmarsh, where we saw the remains of Salicornia (Glasswort), and Spergularia media (Greater Sea-spurrey) in flower.

Shortly after 2pm the wind became so strong, considerably stronger than forecast, that it interfered with what we were doing, so we dispersed. Everyone had seemed to enjoy it, and we hope they will be persuaded to return to this very rich site.

We recorded 115 species in this relatively small area. Thanks to Judy, who must be congratulated for keeping a detailed list, and keeping hold of it, in strong winds that whipped people’s voices away!