Meg's garden, 28 August 2021

A quick pop over to Meg's for a coffee and a look at some plants in her garden and on a nearby field edge. 

The previous day I'd happened to mention my failed quest to find Blue Fleabane this year to be told she had it in her garden! So, loads of the very attractive Blue Fleabane was seen before her horses eat it! Also there were some Yellow Wort, Corn Parsley, Red Bartsia and long gone over Common Broomrape and Common Spotted Orchids.

Turning our attention to a field edge just outside her garden my other target was Treacle Mustard that Meg had very recently discovered. Some careful examination of a small speedwell amongst the Common Field Speedwell confirmed it as Grey Field Speedwell while there was also some good-sized Fool's Parsley plants and Small-flowered Cranesbill too. 

                                                                                                                                        Blue Fleabane

                                                                                                                                    Treacle Mustard
                                                                                                                                        Fool's Parsley
                                                                                                                         Small-flowered Cranesbill

Evening botany this week

This week I've been making use of the light evenings while we still have them! 

On Monday an after-work drive out to Mettingham near Bungay was in order for a target plant - Small Teasel. I found 5 plants pretty easily in the churchyard. The flower heads may be small but the overall plants is still impressively big! In the nearby village hall carpark I also found the double-flowerd form of Soapwort known as 'Bouncing Bett' (!) and some inconspicuous Balm.

                                                                                                                                 Small Teasel
                                                                                                                           Soapwort 'Bouncing Bett'

Tuesday was football night so I next ventured out on Wednesday evening at the invite of my friend Meg who's family farm a large area of land in the Finningham/Gislingham area. We spent a lovely evening catching up and driving around the fields in search of plants. And there were some good ones too - Small Toadflax was my no.1 target but also Fool's Parsley, Parsley Piert, Swinecress, Many-seeded Goosefoot and a random Red Oak were all good new ones for me. Both Round-leaved and Sharp-leaved Fluellens and Dwarf Spurge were seen in numbers and a family party of Grey Partridges with 3 young was also great to see.

                                                                                                                                     Small Toadflax
                                                                                                                                        Fool's Parsley
                                                                                                                                     Parsley Piert
                                                                                                                    Many-seeded Goosefoot

I had intended calling in a Billingford Common on the way home the previous night but spent too long with Meg and it was almost dark when I passed. So instead I poodled over there at lunchtime today. I  spotted Rough Comfrey, a white specimen of Musk Mallow and some Pink Sorrel. Down at the marsh there was plenty of Large-flowered Hemp Nettle and Common Hemp Nettle still in bloom. 

                                                                                                                                       Musk Mallow
                                                                                                                                   Rough Comfrey
                                                                                                                     Large-flowered Hemp Nettle
                                                                                                                              Common Hemp Nettle
                                                                                                                                      Pink Sorrel

A week in The Malvern Hills, Wye Valley & The Forest of Dean, 13 - 20 August 2021

A Friday to Friday trip with our motorhome representing our first trip in it out of East Anglia. It was loosely planned with our overnights being a mixture of small campsites, wild camps and pub stops. Despite some of the facilities at the 2 sites we stayed at being absent (we only had electric hook up for 1 night out of 7!) things went surprisingly smoothly. Overall we had 3 nights in the Malvern Hills area, 2 nights beside the River Wye and 2 nights in the Forest of Dean. 

While in the Malverns we walked miles covering the whole length of the hills including the Herefordshire Beacon, Midsummer Hill, the Worcestershire Beacon, Millennium Hill and Chase End Hill together with a visit to Great Malvern town on one of our walks. Highlights from a natural history angle were 2 Tree Pipits, Raven, Grayling with some nice plants inluding Lesser Calamint, Fragrant Agrimony, Woolly Thistle, Sneezewort, Large-flowered Evening Primrose, Bifid Hemp Nettle and Heath Groundsel. We stayed at a small site in the Golden Valley, a pub stop at Stifford Bridge Red Lion and a wild camp by the church at Hollybush.

                                                                                                                               Lesser Calamint
                                                                                                                                  Fragrant Agrimony
                                                                                                            Large-flowered Evening Primrose
                                                                                                                                     Bifid Hemp Nettle
                                                                                                                                Woolly Thistle


Phase 2 of the week was the picturesque Wye Valley and 2 nights on a lovely little site right beside the river. The spot was withing walking distance of Symonds Yat and we spent a lovely time here visiting Ross-on-Wye, Goodrich Castle, Hereford (including the cathedral and the iconic Mappa Mundi), Kilpeck at it's church with carvings and 'Sheela-na-gig' as well as loads of walking. Unsurprisingly a Peregrine was at Symonds Yat and in the area we also had Raven but it was flowers again that stole the show with Ploughman's Spikenard and Keeled Garlic at Goodrich Castle, Common Figwort, Round-leaved Mint, Sneezewort, Water Chickweed near our campsite and then a fabulous arable field headland not far from the river. This held a superb variety of plants the highlights being Blue Pimpernel, Lesser Swinecress and Marsh Cudweed. Some nice Oak Bracket fungi was found in the woods as was lots of signs of Wild Boar activity including footprints in the mud.

                                                                                                                             Ploughman's Spikenard

                                                                                                                                   Wild Boar prints
                                                                                                                             Blue Pimpernel
                                                                                                                             Marsh Cudweed
                                                                                                                             Lesser Swinecress
                                                                                                                               Round-leaved Mint
                                                                                                                      Common Figwort

The final leg of the trip was a couple of nights in the Forest of Dean. The first was a wild camp beside Cannop Lake in the heart of the forest. Whilst chilling that evening we had Silver-washed Fritillary, 24 Mandarins, 2 Grey Wagtails, Kingfisher, Siskin and Great Spotted Woodpecker for company! On a lengthy couple of walks out from there the following day we had Ivy-leaved Bellflower, Crimson Clover, Love-in-a-Mist, Tutsan and again loads of signs of Wild Boar activity but frustratingly no sightings. Our last night was spent at the Rising Sun pub stopover in the middle of the forest. Walking from here during the afternoon gave us Golden-ringed Dragonfly, Southern Hawker, Woodland Dor Beetle and while at New Fancy View Blackening Waxcap and more Lesser Calamint. We ate in the pub that night amd afterwards went for a dusk walk back into the forest - and finally scored with 2 Wild Boar that we tracked quietly for some while before they emerged briefly under a trackside tree. A Fox was also seen. It was a fantastic way to end what had been a very successful first real holiday in the moho. Bring on the next one! 

                                                                                                                             Ivy-leaved Bellflower
                                                                                                                            Crimson Clover
   Golden-ringed Dragonfly

                                                                                                                      Southern Hawker

                                                                                                                 Blackening Waxcap
                                                                                                                           Woodland Dor Beetle