Poor old Gilbert is getting restless. Despite the fact that there is more interest in wildlife than ever before, it seems that most of the so-called conservation organisations are losing interest in species. Instead they prefer to babble on about landscape scale conservation and ecosystem services (whatever they are). Could this be because most of their staff don't have any knowledge about species if they don't have four legs?
This is my attempt to encourage an interest in good old-fashioned natural history.

Friday, 25 September 2015

The (re)awakening

It's about time Gilbert put in a reappearance, if only to stop his brother from nagging him. I'll backtrack a couple of weeks so that I have a few posts lined up.

I've been aware of the presence of Wild Clary in Emsworth for some time but have only made one previous attempt to find it. This was after a period of drought and I could find no sign, so news that it was flowering again prompted me to call in. The site is a road verge in a residential area and a 'wildflower verge' has been designated to that the area is (theoretically) not mown repeatedly during the summer. Of course, the clary ignores the designated section and grows out of the mown verge further down.
Wild Clary with scenic kerb in background
My colleague had found a couple of plants near our new office that he wanted my opinion on. Yes, bizarre as it may seem, someone actually asked me about plant identification. One of the things he wanted to show me was an amaranth growing on an area of dumped soil. This was too immature to be identified at present but in the same area we found half a dozen specimens of a mysterious goosefoot. It looked like Nettle-leaved but that is far too rare so surely it couldn't be. I took a small piece to examine closely at home but that still pointed to Nettle-leaved. I returned a couple of days later to get some photo's which were sent to the county recorder and he confirmed that our identification was correct and that it was the first record in vice-county 12 for 31 years.

Nettle-leaved Goosefoot
On the way back to our office we found several enormous fungi. These were Giant Puffballs. It is not a rare species but I have never seen it before. Giant Puffballs can weigh as much as 5kg!

Giant Puffball