Field Reports

Monday 5th June - Kithurst Hill near Storrington 

Leader David Hart 
 

On a blustery, but thankfully dry, day, 16 members gathered expectantly. David Hart took us to a close by, sheltered, north-facing meadow; a very special spot. Despite conditions being against butterfly spotting, we saw speckled wood, red admiral and meadow brown as well as a shrew, lizard and hen pheasant. We could concentrate instead on the diversity of typical chalk grassland plants:-

The group compiled a joint list which included germander speedwell (Veronica chamaedrys), common valerian (Valeriana officinalis), common spotted orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii), the parasitic yellow rattle (Rhinanthus minor), purple toadflax ( Linaria purpurea), salad burnet (Poterium sanguisorba), ragwort (Senecio vulgaris), bird’s foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), horseshoe vetch (Hippocrepis comosa), mint (Mentha arvensis), marjoram (Origanum vulgare), cowslip ( Primula veris), hemp agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum), agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria), lady’s bedstraw (Galium verum), crosswort (Cruciata laevipes), chalk milkwort (Polygala calcarea), perforate St John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum), hairy violet (Viola hirta), rough hawkbit (Leontodon hispidus) and fairy flax (Linum catharticum). PHEW! I’d recommend a visit, it’s very close to the car park.

As we headed west along the South Downs Way, we saw sky lark, swift, corn bunting, kestrel and buzzard, while black cap and chaffinch were heard nearby. A yellow hammer was spotted and photographed at close quarters as it sheltered in the lee of a hedge. On the botanical front, further sightings were red (Silene dioica), white (Silene latifolia) and bladder (Silene vulgaris) campions as well as silverweed (Potentilla anserina) and the delicate field pansy (Viola arvensis). Further on were wild mignonette (Reseda lutea), mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) and a spindle (Euonymous europaeus) well covered in its inconspicuous greenish-yellow flowers.

David had promised a good spot for our picnic lunch and we were not disappointed! The camel’s hump provided comfy ‘seating’, a tremendous view and a further selection of plants (some being sat upon!) – common rock rose (Helianthemum nummularium), kidney vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria, interesting to compare with the bird’s foot trefoil and horseshoe vetch both seen in the meadow earlier), eyebright (Euphrasia), ox eye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) and small scabious (Scabiosa columbaria). A young roe deer was seen in the field far below and the more intrepid of us saw small heath amongst the crowd of common spotted orchids in the ditch below us. One member identified a beautiful swollen-thighed beetle (Oedemera nobilis) – anyone got a photo?

Heading back to the car park via a more southerly, sheltered route (will be filled with rosebay willow herb later in the summer) we saw more red admirals and a red kite overhead. Along the field margins, smooth sow thistle (Sonchus oleraceus), field madder (Sherardia arvensis) and black medick (Medicago lupulina) were noted. Much discussion ensued when Weld (Reseda luteola) was identified and the distinctions between weld (narrow strap like leaves), mignonette (leaves cut into 1-2 pairs of very narrow side lobes) and agrimony (leaves cut into 3-6 pairs of bluntly toothed leaflets alternating with pairs of tiny leaflets) were sorted out.

Across the fields, with their patches of swaying poppies, we could see large squares of bare ground assumed to be for the benefit of stone curlews. Whilst sitting and observing, one member noted white throat, linnet, chiffchaff, bull finch and grey partridge. Another early departing member saw two hares on her way back.

All in all, a delightful outing in the company of friendly, interested people. Many thanks to David Hart for his leadership, pearls of wisdom and for suggesting such an enjoyable location. (Must return on a still, sunny day to see more butterflies!) 

Gill Hance .


 

Yellow Hammer

        Yellow Hammer 
 

Weld
 

Weld

Spindle tree
 

Spindle Tree 

Chichester, West Sussex

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