We will be visiting the Backs for our field studies in 2022. I hope to include some college grounds, but this will depend on whatever Covid guidance is in force, both nationally and for the colleges.
Visits begin with the traditional New Year’s Day walk to find plants in flower – provided that outdoor gatherings are still permitted, meet outside the west door of Gt St Mary’s church at 1:00pm if you would like to take part.
Cambridge is a Covid hotspot, so please maintain social distance during the walk.
A small party of members met at Bryon’s Pool for the October field studies visit to Trumpington Meadows. The weather was mild and whilst there had been a little morning rain the afternoon was dry. Jonathan had done a quick recce and thought that there might be a struggle to find many fungi, but was proved wrong. The report of this visit, and reports from previous visits to Trumpington Meadows are elsewhere on this website in the Trumpington Meadows 2021 Diary.
The next visit is scheduled for Sunday 28th November and will focus on bryophytes. CNHS members and those on the CNHS mailing lists will be sent details of meeting place and time.
The report of the visit to Trumpington Meadows on Sunday 22nd August is now available on the Trumpington Meadows 2021 Diary webpage. Jonathan Shanklin, who organises and leads the field studies, reports that “The highlight here [the Byron’s Pool meadow] was however a Wasp Spider, with the yellow bands more cream coloured than usual. It captured a cricket whilst we watched, quickly immobilising it and returning to its web.” Reports of the visits in May, June and July are available on the same page.
The next visit is scheduled for Sunday 26th September when the focus will be on trying to identify lichens and galls. For details of the visit and meeting place, join the CNHS mailing list by contacting webmaster [at] cnhs.org.uk . Please make sure that your server doesn’t block bulk mailings.
For those interested in how the area has changed, the diary of the CNHS survey visits in 2012 is also available here and there was a report in Nature in Cambridgeshire volume 55. This is the annual journal of local natural history, with articles on a wide range of topics. An index to the first 50 issues is available on their website and back copies can be downloaded as pdfs.
With the nights beginning to draw in our visits to Trumpington Meadows return to Sunday afternoons. Our next field studies visit is on Sunday, August 22, meeting at 2pm at the Byron’s Pool car park, by the cycle stands TL438548 CB2 9LJ.
It is an easy cycle ride from Cambridge: Trumpington Road, then Church Lane and Grantchester Road. If you cross the river you’ve gone too far. The Cyclestreets route planner shows the distance as three miles from Cambridge Market and can be used to plan other routes.
The field studies visits aim to record the flora and fauna of the area and introduce participants to it. Although the flowering season is drawing to an end, there will still be many species in flower and if the weather is fine we might see butterflies and other insects. The going is fairly easy and often on paths. All welcome. Wet weather is currently forecast, but that may change in the coming days.
Our next field studies visit to Trumpington Meadows takes place on Thursday, July 22, meeting at 6:30pm. These visits aim to record the flora and some of the fauna of Trumpington Meadows, and introduce beginners to our local wildlife.
Our first evening meeting took place in conditions more akin to the autumn – cold temperatures and a strong wind. This didn’t deter the dozen members who met up at the appointed place. We started with a walk round a small balancing pond, where we saw some members of the legume family – Common Vetch, Spotted Medick and Black Medick. There were also members of the daisy family – Ox-eye Daisy and Beaked Hawk’s-beard. The half hour that we spent here was not enough for one late arriving member who failed to spot us!
We then walked down the cycleway path, stopping when we found some Creeping Thistle. Jo Garrad, one of the Park Rangers, explained that they were looking for Thistle Rust in order to start a trial on reducing the invasive plant. What they hoped to do was collect spores from infected plants, make this into a solution and spray it onto thistle stems in patches. Trials elsewhere had shown this reduced thistle populations by 80% over a few years.
Continuing on to the large balancing pond we admired the Tufted Duck and other waterfowl that were present. We crossed over to the relict waterside meadow, where we saw the small fronds of Adder’s-tongue and the scrub that had grown up in the last decade. Back on the old railway we saw a few plants of Winter-cress in full flower, but didn’t try tasting any of the leaves. Dusk was now approaching and it was cold, so we walked briskly back to our starting point.
We seem to be progressing smoothly out of lockdown, so our next field studies visit to Trumpington Meadows on Thursday, May 20, should go ahead, though there is a risk of April showers. This is an evening visit, starting at 6:30pm. Although we should be able to meet in a large group, we will then split into smaller groups (depending on numbers) for the walk around. In order to help plan, we’d still like you to book by emailing Jonathan Shanklin firstname.lastname@example.org, but we should be able to accommodate everyone who does. Those booking will be told where to meet.
The field studies visits aim to make a regular audit of the natural history of the chosen sites and to introduce members to them and their wildlife. They are suitable for all, though you come at your own risk. Please follow the guidance given by the BSBI for participants on field meetings, which you can find at https://bsbi.org/download/25183/ The CNHS events are all suitable for beginners, with an element of tuition, and are “Green” rated.
January 1. The traditional New Year’s Day outing took place under mild, overcast skies. There had been frosts in November, but December was generally mild and wet. Plants in flower were generally few and far between, with the most frequently flowering species being Veronica persica (Common Field Speedwell). We started around the information centre, pond and copse, somewhat surprisingly finding one plant of Erigeron acris (Blue Fleabane) still in flower. We walked along the spine road, then through Middle Green to the Martin Car Park area. By the pond we found the previously reported Isatis tinctorum (Woad) and a Teasel, which was not as previously reported D. pilosus (Small Teasel) but D. strigosus (Yellow Teasel). We had our picnic lunch in the Barn, then headed up Red Meadow Hill for a view across Cambridge. On the way down we added Sinapis alba (White Mustard) in flower. Continuing via the permissive tracks we eventually re-joined the spine road. A small group continued round Rowans Field and the Orchard, finding a couple more species in flower. By the time we returned to the information centre we had made 194 records of 133 species, of which 23 were in flower. This was the lowest total since we began counting species in flower, and well down on the 58 found last year, and the median number of 35.
The latest detailed Government guidance unfortunately means that meetings in May cannot go ahead. This means that the visit to Coton Countryside Reserve on May 27 is cancelled. CNHS will review the position again in June to see if the next meeting can go ahead or not.