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’.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

10 and 17/9/09: Crayford Marshes miscellany

This post covers the route from the 'Jolly Farmers' public house on Thames Road, along the western bank of the Rivers Cray and Darent and then along the track leading to Moat Lane and Howbury Farm in Slade Green.

Passing under the railway line, there were around 140 Starlings flying back and forth between the Viridor waste disposal site and a telecommunications mast on the other side of the road.

As an access route onto what ought to be a flagship site - being one of the largest swathes of continuously open land in the Borough - the footpath out onto the marshes starts its life as a scrappy, ugly affair, squeezing its way between redundant machinery and spoil heaps on either side.

One is soon confronted with this view. I can't really remember what it was like back in 1979 when I filled oil cans in a now-closed factory nearby in the summer holidays, but it wasn't like this ....

Quite how building up this land fits in with all the official statements about the importance of what little is left of the marshes, and the modern view that we need to be able to buffer floodwater is beyond me.

The path is lined for a long distance on the 'landward' side with a shallow ditch and this ugly bund of what looked to be clay (and perhaps silt), which must be fairly new because it was generally quite sparsely vegetated. One of the plants I did find on it was a single specimen of Fool's Parsley, my third record for the Borough. Also an Opium Poppy, Coltsfoot and a Wild Carrot.

Salad Burnet (front left) was quite frequent along the side of the path.

Also present in some numbers were Fennel plants, here catching the evening sun.

The Salad Burnet, Fennel and plentiful Perennial Rocket provided rich pickings for a tasty, and free, salad.

Wild Clary (Salvia verbenaca) was fairly abundant at the sides of the path too. This was my second location for it in Bexley Borough, but this time it wasn't being prevented from flowering by a mad mowing regime.

Other plants along the riverside path included Sickle Medick x Lucerne hybrids (see separate posting), Goat's Rue, Horseradish, one Musk Mallow, some Black Knapweed, a couple of White Campion, and a modest-sized Swedish Whitebeam in fruit.

Along the lane towards Howbury Fram were English Elm, one Field Maple, Hops and Horseradish.

On the 17th I saw two Grey Wagtails in the deeply canalised section of the Cray by footpath 249 that leads out onto Dartford Marshes along south/east side of the river.

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