The Backs field studies 2022 diary

Saturday 1st January

A dozen or so CNHS members met at Great St Mary’s for the now traditional New Year’s plant hunt. We explored several city centre churchyards, including St Clements as Jonathan had the code for the lock. This was one of the more interesting, with Spotted Deadnettle Lamium maculatum . St Edward’s churchyard had lots of Himalayan Honeysuckle Leycesteria formosa and Indian Strawberry Potentilla indica, which has yellow flowers and lots of red fruit but they are apparently not worth eating. The route also took in Garret Hostel Lane and parts of the Backs.

Sunday 13th March

On a rather wet Sunday afternoon a dozen CNHS members gathered outside Queens’ College and were joined by an alumnus, fellow and guest. We first visited the Fellows’ garden, where the gardeners had reported a rust on a Hellebore and one certainly had blackened flowers, though with no obvious sign of fungal infection. We crossed back over the Mathematical Bridge and along the riverbank to The Grove. The Grove has several tall Elms, though one had Elm Bracket fungus at its base. Leaving Queen’s we headed up West Road to the University Library grounds, where we found a slightly odd lawn that appeared to have been seed-bombed as Corncockle was coming up in it. Continuing on a circular walk we looked at the Garret Hostel Lane Drain City Wildlife Site, where the opposite bank was covered in Primroses, which curiously don’t seem to have been recorded from it before. Stopping to look at the slipway we found some rosettes of Rue-leaved Saxifrage by the gates to the Trinity punt station. We finished with three churchyards: Gt St Mary, St Edward and St Benet. All were visited during the New Year walk, but a few additional species were found in each that could have been visible on the previous visit.

Sunday 10th April

A dozen people gathered outside King’s College on a sunny spring afternoon. Out first stop was King’s wildflower meadow. Here the Cowslips were in flower, and somewhat surprisingly so were Cornflower and Corn Marigold. A nice find was Hoary Plantain, which was part of the sown meadow mix, but had not been recorded previously. Rather less welcome was a patch of Spotted Medick, which has invasive tendencies. The Paddock was being grazed, so we opted to cross Queen’s Road to Memorial Court of Clare College. Here they have sown a wildflower strip around the main lawn and the young leaves of Yellow Rattle were just coming up. What was most interesting however was the variety of ladybirds on a Pine in the central courtyard: Cream, Eyed, Harlequin, Pine, 7-spot, 10-spot and 14-spot. After leaving Memorial Court we continued along Queen’s Road and crossed by Trinity. On the verge Alan Leslie spotted a patch of Meadow Saxifrage, with one plant just coming into flower. He also pointed out the large extent of Cambridge Buttercup (one of the Goldilocks Buttercup group) in flower. At the slipway at Garrett Hostel Lane we saw Rue-leaved Saxifrage in flower, though its Latin name of Saxifraga tridactylites describes the leaves rather better. Our final stop was Michaelhouse, where the Ribbon Fern was just visible through the grating.

Thursday 19th May

Thursday 21st July

Sunday 25th September – with a focus on galls and lichens

Sunday 23rd October – looking at fungi

Sunday 27th November – bryophytes