Torpoint SX45 meeting report from 9th March 2014

Mar 31, 2014 by

Torpoint SX45 meeting report from 9th March 2014

Nine members (Ian Bennallick, Matt Stribley, Mary and Tony Atkinson, Margaret Gardener, Joan Farmer and her daughter, Jolene, Bob Hodgson and Ray Roberts) met in glorious sunny and fairly warm weather at Thanckes Park, Torpoint, in the extreme southeast of Cornwall, on what was the best day since the previous September! The aim of the meeting was to update records in at least two 1km squares, and after a wet and mild winter it would be interesting to see what was around early in the season.

In SX4355 (Thanckes Park square) the total was 316 species with 124 after 1999. After the walk the total is now 355 with 210 after 1999. We recorded 137 species on the meeting in SX4355 but could have been more as I didn’t note down some that have already been seen since 1999. Not a bad number for a 1km square in early March but the square has a number of different habitats and there are quite a few naturalised species. The high overall total (355 spp.) for this 1km square is artificially high as a lot of old unlocalised records for ‘Torpoint’ have almost certainly been attributed to this square. Quite a few species have probably disappeared since the rapid development of Torpoint, but it is surprising how some hold on or reappear when sites are disturbed.

Notables seen were Henbit Dead-nettle Lamium amplexicaule, which is not that common in Cornwall but has a cluster of sites in southeast Cornwall, and Bird’s-foot Clover Trifolium ornithopodioides, last recorded in the Torpoint area before 1930. It was good to confirm that the saltmarsh species were still present – Sea Rush Juncus maritimus, Saltmarsh Rush J. gerardii, Sea-purslane Atriplex portulacoides, Common Saltmarsh-grass Puccinellia maritima and Sea Plantain Plantago maritima, especially after the winter storms, which even in here appeared to have affected some of the coastal vegetation. As Matt and Ian walked back from Torpoint – after everyone else had gone – we found masses of Musk Stork’s-bill Erodium moschatum along the road verges, with Fiddle Dock Rumex pulcher frequent. We also found the grass Water Bent Polypogon viridis, new to Torpoint, but almost certainly in the majority of Cornish towns now, as well as Biting Stonecrop Sedum acre (first for Torpoint since 1880), Common Whitlowgrass Erophila verna and Fern-grass Catapodium rigidum on a wall-top. Matt also collected some polypody fern and later at home confirmed it as Southern Polypody Polypodium cambricum. Near the car park was a small patch of the non-native Pirri-pirri-bur Acaena novae-zelandiae.

After SX4355 it was only Mary, Tony, Matt and Ian left, and we managed to do SX4455 and SX4454 which have small areas of land in Cornwall, and haven’t been recorded separately until a few years ago when Phil Pullen did them. What on a map looks like hardly any land to look for plants, it is surprising what you can find when you search.  In the very small area of SX4455 (Torpoint Ferry area) – the total was 75 species with 71 after 1999. After the walk the total is now 116 with 113 after 1999. We recorded 91 species on the walk. Interesting species included more Erodium moschatum and Erophila verna. Matt also collected some polypody fern and later at home confirmed it as Polypodium cambricum.  In the even smaller bit of SX4454 (south of Torpoint Ferry area) – the total was 1 species with 0 after 1999. After the walk the total is now 59 with 58 after 1999. We recorded 58 species on the walk. Again we saw Erodium moschatum and Erophila verna, and a nice patch of Colt’s-foot Tussilago farfara flowering in a grassy area.

So well worth doing even this early in the year even to get the early flowers like Erophila verna. Ian will go again in the summer months to confirm some species we couldn’t do on the 8th March, as well as doing the other squares to the west.

Ian Bennallick

 

Bob Hodgson, Mary Atkinson and Ray Roberts on the north side of Thanckes Lake, 9th March 2014.

Bob Hodgson, Mary Atkinson and Ray Roberts on the north side of Thanckes Lake, 9th March 2014. Photo – I J Bennallick

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