US social scientist Kenneth Boulding : ‘If you believe exponential growth can go on in a finite world, you are either a madman or an economist’.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

24/6/09: Of Swallows and several new species

My trip from Barnehurst to Bexleyheath started well with 4 Swallows sitting on telephone wires near the junction of Thirlmere and Grasmere Roads.

A Comma butterfly was seen on each side of the former pitch and putt course.

Cutting through the eastern edge of Bursted Wood, there was a rustling in the undergrowth that didn't sound like Blackbird foraging. In fact it was two Wood Mice.

The Asparagus by a garage in Lavernock Rd, near the rear of the hospital site, was now sporting Asparagus Beetle larvae.

There was a good display of Common Mallow in an alleyway at the Long Lane end of Francis Av.

Common Mallow

Being a horticulturalist, as well as a 'botanist', I noted with interest that a specimen of the recently-discovered Woollemi Pine, a 'living fossil' from Australia, was on sale in the garden shop on the corner of Heversham Rd.

A new species in Bexley for me was Catmint (Nepeta cataria), with white, purple-spotted flowers, growing by the exit of the Texaco garage opposite 'The Yacht' public house on Long Lane.

Greater Celandine and Asparagus occur around 'The Yacht' car park.

A seedling of a grey-leaved Verbascum was growing in a crevice by a junction box at the corner of Long Land and Rydal drive.

There was interest in the 'open plan' gardens round the estate on Bristow Rd, near the end of Franklin Rd., as a new location for Common Stork's-bill (Erodium cicutarium) was discovered, hard up against the back end of someone's garage. Unfortunately the nine or so plants were now shaded and the flowers all closed.

Common Stork's-bill

Other plants here included Spotted Medick, Common Cat's-ear, Yarrow and, making a striking and attractive contrast in flower colour, Self Heal and Bird's-foot Trefoil.

There were at least three plants of Salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius) visible through the fence of Uplands Primary School on Church Rd, a species which I've seen become quite invasive by means of seed on a Bristol allotment site.

Lots of Buck's-horn Plantain was to be found in the grass bank behind the Marriott Hotel on Albion Rd (another candidate for a more relazed mowing regime). There were around 14 plants of Swine Cress (Coronopus squamatus), which has slightly heart-shaped fruits with a pointed projection, along the path edge here, and just around the corner on Gravel Hill, two plants of Lesser Swine Cress (Coronopus didymus) which has grape-shaped fruits.

Swine Cress

Lesser Swine Cress

A Hop plant and Traveller's Joy (Clematis vitalba) were growing ove the hedge by the side of the hotel on Gravel Hill.

There was a good selection of plants around the former Woolwich Building Society offices at the junction of Erith Rd and Watling St, including several Perforate St. John's-wort, Black Horehound and Mouse-ear Hawkweed.

A new Bexley Borough species for me here was the attractively silvery Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), the aromatic nature of which led to it being used to repel fleas and moths. It is an ingredient in the liquor absinthe, and in the Middle Ages was used to flavour Mead.


There were three Hemlock plants, another new Bexley record for me - in borders of what looked like imported soil - at 68 Erith Rd.

I'd first spotted Tufted Vetch (Vicia cracca) in a scrap of green between two 'car-parked' gardens along this section of Erith Rd (south of Mayplace Rd East/West) a couple of years ago, and was pleased to see it's still hanging on. Despite supposedly being a fairly common plant, I've only ever seen the odd specimen here and there.

Tufted Vetch

A flock of about 11 Starlings was seen once back on Grasmere Rd., and another of around 20Ring-necked Parakeets

The best 'spot' of the day was undoubtedly a Pyramidal Orchid (see separate post).

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