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.
The detailed guidance does say you can now spend unlimited time outdoors, that you can drive anywhere to green spaces (though you cannot stay away overnight) and that you should not use public transport to get to them. Dogs should be on lead in areas used by other people – see https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-guidance-on-access-to-green-spaces
Jonathan Shanklin, 11 May 2020
Walks are allowed for exercise, so it is a good opportunity to make the most of your local environment without the distraction of the roar of traffic. Birds are nesting, butterflies on the wing and plants are coming into flower. If you do make records make sure that they get to your local recorder (see https://www.cperc.org.uk/links.php), or send them via iRecord (but make sure you use your real name rather than an alias) or to CPERC at https://www.cperc.org.uk/submit-records/
For botanical recording, see the information at https://legacy.bas.ac.uk/met/jds/cnhs/vc29.htm which includes recording guidelines, record cards, lists of species, both common and rare, found in Cambridgeshire, and more.