Sunday, 12 July 2009

Sunday 12th.July 2009

Today , I had a long standing engagement , to lead a Butterfly/Nature walk , for the good people of Bredhurst , not far from Queendown Warren . With the overnight rain , and still ongoing this
morning , it was initially called off , then , shortly after , reinstated . Anyway , I dropped Carol off at her brother's near Cliffe Pools , and then headed off to do the walk . On arrival , I began to wonder if we should have stayed with the 'called off' position , with threatening skies looming towards us . Undeterred , we struck out on our walk around the fields and woods on the edge of the village . I must admit , the weather did start to improve , and in sheltered areas , we were able to see Marbled White , Large and Small and Green Veined White , Meadow Brown , Comma , Small and Essex Skipper and Ringlet . Silver Y and Six Spot Burnet , day flying moths also were well represented , along with great numbers of the small moth Pyrausta purpularis Eventaully we reached a fenced area that was coppiced two Winters ago , and then grazed by sheep . What a treasure trove of wild flowers presented themselves to us . I have never seen so much Common Centaury in one place , in all my days . Wood Sage , Wild Mignonette , Scarlet Pimpernel , Selfheal , Wild Basil , Yellow-wort , Marjoram , St.John's Wort and one that I haven't seen for some time , Basil Thyme - pictured . The seeds of all these flowers must have been in the seed bank , and released when the coppicing and subsequent grazing , allowed light and moisture in . Then , a walk leader's worst nightmare , when someone said 'what's this' . I looked at the specimen that was being pointed out , and initially thought , without saying anything , a Scots Pine seedling . Then I felt it , and it was very soft to the touch . Then I noticed two very small yellow flowers , and alarm bells started ringing , no way was this a Scots Pine seedling . Time to bite the bullet , 'I haven't got a clue what it is , I have never seen anything like it before ' , with a quickly added 'but I will find out and get back to you' . I was thinking about that plant for the rest of the walk , and couldn't wait to get home and look it up . Even using keys it was not easy , but eventually , there it was looking back at me from the book , Ground-Pine , Ajuga chamaepitys , another member of that large Labiate family , and closely related to Bugle , although you wouldn't say so looking at the two of them , but I can fulfil my promise and let the people know . Out of interest , has anyone else come across this plant before ?
As we headed back to the start , one of the walkers took us to see an incredible , to my mind , Yew tree . It was one of many that was originally a boundary between wood and pasture , but now is just part of this large wood . The Yew in question is the large vertical tree , and in front is a Beech tree . Somehow , the Beech is growing through the Yew , and can be seen protruding from the back right hand side of the Yew . Having grown through it , the Beech then carries on

growing and can be seen growing almost horizontal , on the left hand side of the Yew , before sweeping upwards into the canopy . To give an idea of size , the Beech was about 30 cms. where it entered the Yew . The obvious question was asked , 'how could that happen' . I had a quick think , and the only thing I could think of , was that in the past , the Beech grew laying on the side of the Yew , and over the years , the Yew grew over the Beech , thus embedding the Beech within itself . I have seen similar things , when barbed wire has been fixed to a tree , and the tree grows around it , eventually embedding the wire several inches into itself . We will never know for sure , but I found the whole thing intriguing .
After three hours , we arrived back at the start point , and it honestly felt like half an hour , time just flies when you're enjoying yourself .
Obviously , photos were few and far between , unfortunately , my voice worked much harder than the finger on the camera . I did get caterpillar that I managed to rescue from the road just before it was splattered . Still working on the make .


Adam said...

Hi Fred

Saw Ground Pine at Burham Down (KWT reserve) last year - really is quite a special little plant! Thanks for all you help re: Silver-washed Frits at High Elms. My only window was yesterday afternoon, but after a brief visit to Lullingstone to Dark Green Frits - and seeing none - I detoured to Chelsfield for the Spitfire flypast, but as the rain moved in and the Vampire jet flypast was cancelled I though if a jet couldn't make it through the drizzle then there was no way SWF would be on the wing!! So despite looking forward to the High Elms visit all week I never made it. Anyway I'll hold onto the map and try again.

Thanks again


Anonymous said...

Hi Greenie. The make ;-) of your caterpillar could be either Buff or White Ermine.

ShySongbird said...

I don't recall ever seeing the Ground-Pine but will definitely be looking out for it now. I can't get over the trees, that is the most bizarre sight, I was absolutely fascinated. Nature never ceases to amaze me!

Greenie said...

Adam ,
Shame you missed both Frits . I was back today , brilliant .

Dean ,
I thought you might be the man . Not much to go on to identify that one .
Thanks very much .

ShySongbird ,
Like you , I just stood there , mouth wide open .
I've never seen anything like it before

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