Saturday, 28 June 2014

Next VC55 meeting 2/7/2014 to Bittesby Wood

Our next local group meeting is this Wednesday 2nd July, starting at 6.30 and has been co-ordinated by Uta. We will be visiting Bittesby Wood which is in an under-recorded hectad SP48.

Anthyllis vulneraria
Image courtesy of John Crellin
Uta says "This is a relatively new plantation along a dismantled railway line which is apparently good for butterflies and the Small Blue butterfly was found there. One of our tasks will be to try and find its food plant Anthyllis vulneraria Kidney Vetch.

"The meeting point is at SP 496 854, just off the A5 on the road to the village of Willey. From there we will have to cross the A5 to walk along a public footpath to the site at SP 499 858.

Please use this link to access the doodle poll and let us know if you would like to come and also if you would like to carshare".

Uta's mobile number is 07852 682790.

Posted by Uta and Louise. The image is from this website run by BSBI botanist John Crellin which has lots of excellent photographs - very useful when you are just learning to identify plants.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Field Meeting: SK8236 and Muston Meadows NNR/SSSI

Location and Access

The site is 1 km south of Muston village, 3 km south east of Bottesford and 10 km west of Grantham. The Grantham Canal passes the southern boundary of the reserve close to Longore Bridge.

By car, access to the reserve is via minor roads from the A52. The minor road from Muston to Stenwith (1 km to the east) passes near the eastern boundary of the reserve.

Parking: In Muston Village and walk to the start, or in a couple of spaces off Woolsthorpe Lane (SK83093714), marked on the map below, and walk to the start.

Car Sharing: Please use this Doodle poll to arrange.

Meeting Point and Recording Plan

Meet at the entrance to the reserve on the byway to the west (SK82673710) at 11:00 a.m. We will record to the west of the monad first, turn east along the Grantham Canal, then cross Longore Bridge before returning via the meadows, using public footpaths etc. Natural England has kindly given us permission to visit and record in the fields in the NNR/SSI and have asked us to record information according to the fields in the reserve. A map showing the location of these will be available on the day.

It is intended to record from 11:00 am until 3:00 pm and then have tea at the Old Forge Tearooms in Muston (open 10 am unto 4 pm), so bring lunch and a drink with you.

Mobile: 0774 548 7766 on the day

Some Notes on Muston Meadows from Natural England's Website

The meadows are remarkably rich in plant life, which includes 33 types of grass and over 100 other species of flowering plant and is notable for its colony of over 10,000 green-winged orchids

The meadows contain a wealth of wildlife, including invertebrates, amphibians and birds. The site supports a variety of insects, including many butterflies and moths. Ponds - originally dug to provide water for grazing animals - are now home to dragonflies, frogs and the rare great-crested newt.

Skylarks and meadow pipits build their nests in the long grass, while yellowhammers, linnets and whitethroats nest in hedgerows.

There are large numbers of small mammals such as bank and field voles, and on summer evenings bats can be seen hunting for insects over the site.

The reserve has recently been extended, and 32ha of former arable land is being reverted back into haymeadow using seed collected from the flower rich meadows of the original reserve.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Leicester Bioblitz 2014

Helen O'Brien, Nature Conservation Officer at LCC, has been in touch about next weekend's annual Leicester Bioblitz, which this year is being held at Western Park. The Bioblitz runs from 5pm on Friday 13th June to 5pm on Saturday 14th June.  The local group intends to meet at the EcoHouse at 6.30 on Friday to start recording, and Helen promises us access to parts of the park not usually accessible to the public. 

Helen also says "We are organising a number of guided walks again this year and I wondered if I could put BSBI down for Wildflower/Botany walks at 11.00 a.m. and 3.00 p.m. on Saturday 14th June?  We will ask people to book on and to be at the Bioblitz Basecamp which will be set up in the main marquee near to “Old Major” – the veteran oak tree opposite the main driveway within the Park.   Maximum numbers per walk will be 20".

Would anyone be interested in leading one of these walks? If so, please email us at to arrange. Here are the details for parking provision and arrangements:

Friday 13th June 2014
Park in the Mencap car park on the left of the driveway. There will be park officers at the main gate to greet and direct you to the car park which will be locked up after the park is closed. 
Staff will be in the Ecohouse to take information on species identified, provide light refreshments etc.  Toilet facilities are also available within the Ecohouse on Friday evening.

Saturday 14th June 2014
Parking will be available on the main driveway and also at the turning circle/car park at the end of the driveway. 
Refreshments will be available at the Mencap building (hot and cold drinks)
A packed lunch is available for guided walk leaders/activity stall holders and volunteers
Toilet facilities are available within Mencap and also on the main park

Posted by Louise; thanks to Helen for the sharp images of Western Park ;-)

Next meeting: Old Dalby

Here are the details for our next VC55 meeting, arranged once again by Uta, who says:

"This meeting will be at Old Dalby, in an underrecorderd area of the county at the border with Notts. I don't know the area at all and chose the tetrad on the attached map where the footpaths seem to cross different habitats such as parkland, woodland and fields. And the village.

Meeting is at 6.30pm at SK67372357 by the church. 

Please use doodle if you would like to come and to organise car sharing".

To access the map Uta mentions, go to and type in the grid reference for the meeting. 

No mention of which pub to visit afterwards, for that all-important debrief and examination of specimens over a pint, but I understand there are some nice ones in the area. Hope to see you on Wednesday!

Posted by Louise

Thursday, 5 June 2014

VC55 botanists cross a few boundaries...

County boundaries, that is! We passed a few "Welcome to ...shire" signs when we ventured over the VC55 county line [cue theme to 'Deliverance'] last Sunday for a visit to Breckland with Tim Pankhurst

Warks VC Recorders John & Monika Walton joined us for the day and it was also great to meet up again with Catherine, who forsook VC55 for Cambridgeshire last year. 

But the plants: Tim (pic on left) showed us some lovely things and I'm hoping that those of you with snazzy cameras who were snapping away on the day will send in your images to replace my pathetic attempts on this page. You know who you are and I know where you live. Just saying.

First Tim told us a bit about the history of Cranwich Camp, our first location, and about the geology and what makes the Brecks so special and important for plants. More info about this on Plantlife's excellent page here. Scroll down to check out the Info on Breckland plants booklet.
He showed us the most amazing ditch and yes, I know that sounds nerdy and yes, the ditch was right next to the car park and yes, we spent at least an hour in it. But before you laugh, consider just a few of the plants growing on the sides of the ditch, just at waist height so you didn't even have to bend down to see:

Petrorhagia prolifera Proliferous Pink
Medicago minima Bur Medick
Two Clovers which keyed out as Trifolium striatum. and T. scabrum - thanks to Andy Lear for correcting my earlier error here! And for offering more pix - link to follow.

Then into the grassland for Silene otites Spanish Catchfly and Astragalus danicus

Then on to a second site for Dianthus deltoides Maiden Pink (on left) and Festuca glauca Blue Fescue, which we examined to the song of a nightingale in a nearby bit of scrub. Apparently most visitors to this site bring binoculars but not a handlens. How odd. 

All drooping a bit in the heat by now (botanists and plants) but some of us just had to visit a final site, recommended by Tim. 

We soon found our quarry: lovely bluish clumps of Artemisia campestris and growing with it we saw Carex arenaria and a lovely Rosa rubiginosa of which I will only say that one of the day's delights - nearly as good as the hour in the ditch - was seeing the red glands on the calyx of Rosa rubiginosa.

If you don't have a live plant to hand, get to a Herbarium pronto and peer at a specimen. Those glands are quite something. 

Many thanks to Uta for organising the meeting and to Tim Pankhurst for sacrificing Sunday afternoon pub time to show us some lovely Breckland plants. Return visit next Spring to see/help monitor the Veronicas?

Posted by Louise, all blurry images by me and more about the outing to follow if/when I receive some better photos!