Thursday, January 24, 2013

Wanted: Dead or Alive!? 1000 species for TQ6410

I had a feeling last week’s dead stems and deceased bodies might arouse some unintended controversy for the 1KSQ Challenge but it’s an interesting point. When it comes to plants, dead stems and twigs are a definite no-no for my list but equally, some of last year’s old plants are direct pointers to visible LIVE shoots and growth even in mid-January 2013.  So why wait until flowering time? 

It may be miniscule and a tad early but at least you don't need a microscope to identify Purple Loosestrife ..... one of last week’s dead 'uns .... yet alive and sprouting. Honest!

You might think all this early identification applies only to perennials but there are biennials re-generating or re-seeding too. Evening Primrose, Foxglove and Teasel are obvious examples - old stems still visible from last year, pointing the way to new, already well-established plants nearby .....


..... like this Bristly Ox-tongue Picris echioides

Or in the case of this Teasel, a new seedling sprouting out of one of the old seed-heads ...... ignore them at your peril!

An exception in TQ6410 in 2013 has been Viper’s Bugloss .... of which one or two dead stems are still visible on the plot but not a single, living, leafy new rosette has appeared over the autumn/winter months. First time this has happened (or rather hasn’t) for over ten years. So Echium vulgare NOT on the list … yet!

One or two perennials were also showing well yesterday ...... Ground Ivy Glechoma hederacea (left), Bugle Ajuga repans and Great Reedmace Typha latifolia in a shallow pond on the very edge of the square.

So why tick off plants sooner rather than later? Well, why not!  I might lose interest by the end of June …. but hopefully not. Identifying SOME of the plants early on has been a useful exercise, and especially if the snow stays until March ..... by which time I'll be bracing myself for the numerous unidentifiable or barely even visible flying, droning, humming, buzzing, clicking or mining things around the square .... fingers crossed!

Actually, I'm already bogged down with several mystery mosses and lichens...... I'm sure these should be easy to ID and they're probably very common but er .......

And this one should be in my 1980 Roger Phillips guide too ..... if only I could find it after much thumbing through some unfamiliar pages. Lichens are proving tricky .....

A bit more confident with this one ..... am assuming it's Buellia canescens


Mosses too could be an achilles heel ..... I've got this one down as Oakmoss Evernia prunastri (left)

Also found Lunularia cruciata ..... on the ground.

Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus) was attached to this dead elder on my plot, right next to last autumn's old decaying fungi (top right corner). 


Yesterday's stroll around TQ6410 (when I finally strayed into the rest of the square) also saw some more easily identifiable additions to the list: a Fox was trotting through the snow but then, bizarrely, got spooked by a Woodpigeon flapping out of a nearby hedge. A Redwing flew overhead near my plot - seen loads this winter but this was the first one I'd noticed here this month. Right on the edge of the Pevensey Levels (and square), a Heron took off from a drainage ditch .... and finally the inevitable Herring Gull over the Castle grounds. But the best birds were ones I've already ticked - several times recently - another Woodcock right by the tiny wildlife pond at the end of the Wild Flower Barn, some Fieldfares overhead and a pair of Bullfinches by the front gate.   
And talking of sticks and dead stems ..... despite appearances to the contrary, these 300 year old Sweet Chestnuts are still very much ALIVE, right on the very edge of TQ6410. These wonderful old trees are also home to a large Jackdaw roost. 

Also came across a Yew on the edge of the Castle grounds to add to the tree list.

And here’s the only surprise of the day - a pair of Sussex origin (only joking) Red Deer that were also very much alive yesterday afternoon. I needed a double take at these two stags but they're obviously not truly wild. Their official status is ‘escapes’ so on a par with Wood Duck found nearby a couple of winters back? A madcap local landowner a couple of miles away on the Pevensey Levels is the likely culprit - he thought a 2m wide water-filled drainage ditch would keep these beasts ENCLOSED!  I think they’ve been wandering freely around locally for over a year now but probably not for much longer. Venison burgers loom?  Don’t panic, I haven’t ticked them …. they were 50m outside the square!

New additions this week:
Redwing, Heron, Herring Gull, Fox, Yew, Great Reedmace, Ground Ivy, Bristly Ox-Tongue, Oyster Mushroom, Oakmoss, Buellia canescens, Lunularia cruciata
Trundling along to 163 species ......

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