Widewater Lagoon

Field meeting reports
Picture of Silene uniflora (Sea Campion)
Silene uniflora (Sea Campion). Photo: Nick Sturt

Meeting date: 27 April 2019

(Leader: Sue Denness)

Any cobwebs adhering to non-bryologists over the winter were swiftly blasted out to sea by an exhilarating gale. The first vascular plant meeting of the season attracted in excess of 20 keen members in a congenial mix which included vegetative shingle aficionados like Jacky, new faces Chris and James, and some Brighton celebrities less frequently seen in recent years, Ady Symon and Tony Spiers. In charge, Sue Denness orchestrated splendidly slow progress along the top of the shingle beach with the less experienced learning classic seaside plants such as Crambe maritima (Sea-kale) and Glaux maritima (Sea-milkwort) in a non-flowering state and some more rarefied discussion of the subtleties of Cerastium diffusum (Sea Mouse-ear) and C. semidecandrum (Little Mouse-ear).  There was much pondering over the clovers present with the aid of Poland and Clement and some line drawings by Elisabeth, though in the end specimens had to be taken home to a more sheltered environment for confident determination. Trifolium ­scabrum (Rough Clover) was the most common trefoil encountered but there was some T. dubium ­(Lesser Trefoil) and a little T. striatum (Knotted Clover), not to mention Medicago lupulina (Black Medick): in the end careful examination of both leaflets and stipules revealed all.

Along the lagoon edge there were reminders of the meeting of July 2018 in the form of the skeletal remains of last year’s Salicornia ramosissima (Purple Glasswort) and the new reddish growth of Frankenia laevis (Sea-heath). But last year’s ice-creams at the kiosk under a summer sun seemed a distant memory! A section of battened-down beach-huts afforded some cover for lunch while wind- and kite-surfers shot about in the distance and the blades of the Rampion wind farm pumped power into the Grid. More of the same pleasurable activity in the afternoon, moving from TQ20C to TQ10X and focusing on the western portion of the gravelly lagoon beach where among the gems were Myosotis ramosissima (Early Forget-me-not) and some Silene uniflora (Sea Campion), both in flower. The party acquired familiarity with the basal leaves of Crepis vesicaria (Beaked Hawk’s-beard) and Picris hieracioides (Hawkweed Oxtongue), while Tony picked out a lone plant of Brassica oleracea (Wild Cabbage). At length the leader called time and we made our way back along the top of the beach where the surfers were still flying by and occasional sunbeams lit up the chalk cliffs as far as Beachy Head.

Picture of Widewater Lagoon with red patch of Frankenia laevis
Widewater Lagoon with red patch of Frankenia laevis (Sea-heath). Photo: Nick Sturt