Thursday, 22 June 2017

Chalk scrapes


I visited Priest Hill SWT Reserve for the first time since early May this afternoon, which fortuitously coincided with a Surrey Botanical Society field trip. The society were there to survey the chalk scrapes, which are being steadily colonised by flowers - some plants by natural means, and other species by deliberate spreading of seed, such as the Broad-leaved Cudweed (above). This species is just clinging on at nearby Banstead Downs, but only just. Seed taken from here, by licence, and then spread at Priest Hill safeguards its future just in case the small colony nearby does succumb.


More Broad-leaved Cudweed, with the leaves overtopping the heads, plus yellow-tipped bracts.
The spread of Kidney Vetch (below) has been spectacular, which has resulted in the colonisation of the site by the Small Blue butterfly. None were seen today, although the dull and breezy conditions did not help in my search for them. It was good to catch up with the SBS team, and a pleasure to spend a bit of time chatting to both Peter Wakeham and Eileen Taylor, two fine local botanists.


Earlier in the day I had returned to the Box Hill zig-zag, for second helpings of Musk Orchid and Dark Green Fritillary (both pictured below). Stood at the bottom of the steep valley, with a grey menacing sky, rumbling thunder and dramatic lightening was quite unnerving, and also quite surreal to be watching the Fritillaries and Marbled Whites patrolling above the grass in spite of the gloom.


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