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’.

Monday, 19 October 2009

19/10/09: Lots of Turkeys and no Falcons at 'wood, and more unsympathetic vegetation management ....

I had previously recorded Turkey Oak (Quercus cerris) in the former 'up' bay at Blackheath station. There must also be one or more somewhere near Barnehurst station, as the Pedunculate Oaks there get Knopper galls, for which Turkey Oak is a necessary alternate host for the Gall Wasp concerned. But this was the first time I'd got off at Falconwood station to take a proper look at the flora. And it's 'Turkey Oak central', at least behind the 'down' (towards Dartford) platform .

Turkey Oaks (Quercus cerris) tower over the platforms at the west end of Falconwood station on the Bexleyheath line. Given the unsympathetic vegetation mangement highlighted below, it's ironic that the billboard advertises rare wildlife on another continent

Closer view of Turkey Oak

This substantial Swedish Whitebeam (Sorbus intermedia) on the bank behind the 'up' platform could have been planted or self-sown

The vegetation at the foot of the bank behind the 'up' platform has been so hard strimmed that bare earth is exposed

The even steeper bank behind the 'down' platform had been treated the same way, despite the 'ducting' meaning that the vegetation would have to get pretty long to flop right over onto the platform surface and pose any sort of hazard - and in the dry summer we've just had it wouldn't have taken more than a basic trim or two to make sure this didn't happen

Annoyingly, this 'modern' (=lazy) approach to vegetation management is also practiced at Barnehurst , Bexleyheath and Erith stations, possibly more. If all this bare earth was about fostering rare burrowing bees or wasps etc. I might be persuaded, but the cynic in me sees it as yet another example of a fetishistic obsession with 'tidiness' and an over-the-top approach to 'health and safety'. Moreover it can only lead to more rapid erosion of the banking, and lots of dirt being washed onto the platform for someone to sweep up.

Oh yes, and what else do we find - the standard 'jobsworth' finish so beloved of public and private 'utilities' whereby the vegetation is trashed but the trash is left firmly in plain sight. And in this case some of it looks suspiciously like asbestos.

For the record, the other species within the station area included those typical of the Bexleyheath line such as Hazel, Perennial Rocket, Hogweed, Cow Parsley, Mugwort, Black Medick and Purple Toadflax.

Blue Tits, Long-tailed Tits and a Wren were also seen.

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