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’.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

25/9/10: Hounslow - Heath, and I find a very rare London plant in the town centre

London Natural History Society visit to Hounslow Heath for insects, though I was hoping to see some Adders.

We found a few interesting specimens, such as Gargara genistae:

There were some butterflies about. I saw 2 Meadow Browns, there were also Speckled Woods and a number of Small Coppers - their larval food plant, Sheep's Sorrel, was in evidence. A Sparrowhawk was seen overhead. I spotted a couple of Common Lizards in rather long grass.

Besides the Heather and Gorse. there was a large patch of Chinese Mugwort (Artemisia verlotiorum), a first for me.

As it happened, I got temporarily detached from the other 4 attendees, and during this time came across a local person who is keen on the snakes. He showed me what he thought was the best location and we did see a small Adder, probably 2 years old, even though the weather had become unfavourable.

Better was yet to come, as on the way back to a railway station I found several Hoary Cinquefoil (Potentilla argentea) by a car park just off the Staines Rd near Hounslow town centre. There were only 7 bona fide records in Burton's 'Flora of the London area' based on 1966-1976 records, and some of these were outside what is (now) the Greater London Authority boundary. It was said to be declining then. I showed the Natural History Museum's Mark Spencer (who is working on a new London Flora) a small sample at the LNHS meeting the next day, and he was very pleased because of the rarity and the fact it's within his own recording patch. He has subsequently confirmed that my identification is correct and it's not some similar foreign species I didn't know about. No photos I'm afraid, as it's only the second time I've seen the species, and it hadn't really clicked what it was until I got home and looked it up in my ID book.

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