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Monitoring group’s August survey

by Brian Lavers

August’s monitoring group’s survey was a further measure of the plant species present on the Wey Meadow SSSI (site of special scientific interest) and required the identification of those species present within each of four randomly selected 2-metre square plots. Two of the selected plots were within the areas of short vegetation and two were deep among the tall and predominant sedge.

Countryside Restoration Trust monitoring volunteers at Pierrepont Farm.

Up to their oxters in southern marsh orchids: monitoring group leader Bill Young (left) and Brian Senior, with Jean Honeyford facing away from the camera. Correction 06/09/2012: the monitoring group informs me that the plants are not the southern marsh orchid (which has done its bit for this year and folded its tent) but the purple loosestrife. Silly me.

The results were as follows, and bear out the wisdom of doing a plant survey at a time of the year when they actually have flowers!

1st Plot
Greater birds-foot-trefoil
Sedge (two varieties)
Meadowsweet
Buttercup (probably Bulbous)
Goat(?) Willow
Fen Bedstraw
Marsh Willowherb
Marsh Horsetail
Meadow Vetchling
Thistle (not identified)

2nd Plot
Devil’s-bit Scabious
Meadow Buttercup
Greater birds-foot-trefoil
Tormentil
Marsh Horsetail
Common Sorrel
Sedge (two varieties)
Marsh Willowherb
Buttercup (probably Bulbous)

3rd Plot
Common Cats-ear
Ribwort Plantain
Smooth Hawks-beard
Common Sorrel
Yarrow
Buttercup (Small-flowered?)
Greater birds-foot-trefoil
White Clover
Devil’s-bit Scabious
Red Clover

4th Plot
Gipsywort
Common Sorrel
Purple-Loosestrife
Reed (not identified)
Orange Balsam
Sedge (not identified)
Meadowsweet
Fen Bedstraw
Greater birds-foot-trefoil
Marsh Willowherb
Rush (not identified)
Marsh x Hedge Woundwort hybrid

As always, Wizz, the farm collie, accompanied the team throughout and “helped” occasionally by lying down on top of the plants found.

By way of a diversion from the frustrations of plant identification, interest was provided by a number of examples of the spider Araneus quadratus, otherwise known as the four-spot orb-weaver.

A four-spot orb-weaver at work in Wey Meadow at the Countryside Restoration Trust's Pierrepont Farm. The adult females can change colour to match their surroundings, though it takes about three days to complete the process.

A four-spot orb-weaver at work in Wey Meadow. The adult females can change colour to match their surroundings, though it takes about three days to complete the process.