Monday 27 July 2020

Wildflowers of the Roadsides and Saltmarsh - 27th July 2020

It rained hard during breakfast and this was followed but a brief but serious thunderstorm.  The sky was grey and the precipitation steady and I resigned myself to a day indoors but the drawing hand was not working so I decided to head out anyway. It chose that moment to let up and, although windy, the rain held off until I got home three hours later.

With autumn passage underway I decided to head down to Temple Marsh to check on the Medway but it very quickly became a botanical amble starting with Jersey Cudweed flourishing in the driveways of many houses in the road adjacent to mine. 

Urbanised Jersey Cudweed

I even got distracted going under the railway and discovered Wall Rue (a tiny fern) and Hart’s Tongue  growing out of the cracks while the next railway bridge had Buddlias doing what they do best.

Hart’s Tongue
Hart’s Tongue
Wall Rue

Wall Rue

The amazing Buddlia

I took my time as I wandered through the industrial area, looking at the plants eking out an existence in the dust along fencelines and the bases of walls.  There was a tall Fleabane that is beyond my level of expertise but Guernsey seems the best fit best and both Black and Woody Nightshades, Ragworts with Cinnabar cats, Nippleworts, Red Valerian, Black Horehound, Coltsfoot, Perennial Wall Rocket and Fennel.

Fleabane - A compact species
Fleabane - a tall lanky less hairy species

Fleabane sp

Black Nightshade

Woody Nightshade

Woody Nightshade



Windowsill Stonecrop sp
Ragworts with Cinnabar
Perennial Wall Rocket

I probably looked a bit odd taking pictures on this route.  A slightly wider margin suddenly had both Common and Chinese Mugworts, Common Toadflax, Yarrow, Creeping Thistle, Soapwort and even a clump of Bear’s Breeches.

Common Mugworts

Chinese Mugworts

Creeping Thistle

Soapwort - Saponaria officinalis

Common Toadflax
Bear’s Breeches

Bear’s Breeches

I took the path down onto the windy saltmarsh and was greeted by an almost completely different suite of plants to my last visit or at last they were now flowering!

I have had a good go at identifying much of what I saw but I will confess to having plagued Enid with questions and images this afternoon.

Big clumps of Golden Samphire were immediately obvious with the Sea Wormwood now much taller and in flower creating a silvery carpet. Spear-leaved Orache was found from saltmarsh to above the high tide mark and Sea Milkwort and one of the Sea Spurry species were discovered although I may have to go back to get some better images of the latter.

Golden Samphire

Golden Samphire

Sea Purslane

Sea Wormwood

Spear-leaved Orache

Spear-leaved Orache

Sea Spurry sp in flower

Sea Millkwort

Sea Aster was moving towards flowering with just one or two spikes in bloom and Spartina and Sea Couch grasses were in flower. The Annual Sea-Blite had come on somewhat and Common Sea Lavender clumps dotted the vista adding a splash of colour.

Common Sea Lavender

Common Sea Lavender

Annual Sea-Blite

Sea Aster

Sea Aster

Sea Beet fruits

Sea Couch Grass

Spartina Grass

Above the strand line I found three patches of Marsh Mallow which reminded me of a trip to Minsmere with Annie, Max and his Mum many years ago now, where somehow Mr Stay Puft and the Marsh Mallow Police joined us on the walk...  I am not sure that I have ever seen it anywhere else.

Marsh Mallow

Marsh Mallow

There were no pottery treasures to be found as there was thick covering of seaweed but I did find some nice Glasswort poking through. A large patch of Tansy was a pleasant surprise and was attended by what think is Colletes fodiens and this is one of its known pollen sources. 



Colletes fodiens


It was really blowy and it felt like rain was imminent but I pressed on into the retail park with its good borders. There was Musk and Common Mallow to make it three species for the walk along with Field Scabious, Marjoram and Spear Mint in flower.

Spear Mint

Spear Mint and Bombus lapidarius
Hawkweed Ox-Tongue

I got myself a cup of coffee from McD in the now busy complex – gone are the days of no cars and tumbleweeds – and sat overlooking the Medway where at least one of the Oystercatcher families had successfully raised two young. A few juvenile Herring, Lesser Black-backed and Black-headed Gulls were milling around and a single adult Great Black-backed Gull was patrolling.  Unsurprisingly there were no other waders as usual.

Little Egret

Oystercatcher- adult

Oystercatcher- juvenile

Oystercatcher- adult
Black-headed Gull adult

Black-headed Gull juvenile

I retraced my route, pausing to watch an amorous male Feral Pigeon strutting his stuff on the saltmarsh among three ladies who where only interested in feeding on marsh grass seeds.  He looked mighty fine with his puffed out chest.

Saltmarsh Pigeons

Back at the Pill Box I took the inland route across the brownfield section of Temple Marsh but it was now getting darker and the wind was getting very gusty but I still managed to see quite a few Gatekeepers around the more sheltered laden Bramble clumps while Stonecrop, Perforate St John’s Wort and Common Centaury were growing in the thin soil layer on top of the asphalt.


Common Centaury

Autumnal Haws

Lords and Ladies

There was no hope of any butterflies on the copious amounts of Buddlia but a Jersey Tiger blew out as I walked through. I have still not seen a Painted Lady this year.

Jersey Tiger

I came back through the White Poplars and the pesky Mr Wren has now got me looking for leaf mines! He was quite excited when I sent him this picture as Phyllonorycter comparella is seemingly a noteworthy moth species.

Phyllonorycter comparella mine on White Poplar

Phyllonorycter comparella once emerged

I am still not up to identifying my Burdocks but Greater Plantain growing in the gutter and a patch of White Melilot were both new species before a final distraction of some holey Hop leaves made me think of Buttoned Snout damage having had them on my Golden Hop when we used to live in east Ham.  Sure enough I found three cats under leaves but as soon as I got the camera ready they just dropped which was very inconsiderate so I took some shots of two leave mines instead!

Burdock sp

Old Man's Beard

Perennial Sweet Pea

Perennial Sweet Pea pods

White Melilot

Greater Plantain

Cosmopterix zieglerella on Hop
Buttoned Snout

Lyonetia clerkella on hop

I did not want to push my luck, having stayed dry and pushed for home with a head full of botanical wonders.

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