Botanical Surveying with Jeremy and Caroline

Barrie Wilkinson

Simon and myself were invited to tag along on a botanical survey this week with LWT’s resident botanist and Wildlife Sites Officer, Jeremy and Caroline.

Simon and myself were invited to tag along on a botanical survey with Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust (LWT) resident botanist and Wildlife Sites Officer, Jeremy and Caroline, a former Head of Conservation at LWT. We met at Greetwell Hollow Nature Reserve, a 13-hectare disused quarry, on the outskirts of Lincoln at 9:30am and got to work.

The aim of the day was to find and record every plant species found on the reserve. At first this sounded quite overwhelming due to the apparent diversity of species we could see just walking from the cars through the reserve.

Jeremy split the reserve into three sections on a map, based on natural dividers such as hedges, so the process can be repeated again using the same areas. Between arriving at 9:30am and leaving at 4:30pm we managed to finish two of the three sections, which I think is good going!

Yarrow

Yarrow - Catherine Watson

At the start of the day, Jeremy had his head down and was fairly quiet for the first few hours. This was the busiest time during the survey, setting off recording each plant we came across.

Caroline was a star and tried to introduce me and Simon to as many flowers as she could whilst keeping up with Jeremy on his mission.

As time went on and we started seeing fewer ‘new’ plants Jeremy was able to go into more depth on what each species was and how to identify it. For a beginner like myself, this information was vital! I’ve always had an interest in plants and understand what to look for when identifying species, but my knowledge on the local flora is limited.

During the day it became quite apparent that it wasn’t just wild species we were seeing. We came across many plants which would have originated in gardens and have invaded the reserve through the dumping of garden waste and other more natural ways, like seed dispersal.

Non-native invasive species were also found like Pirri-Pirri-Bur, (Acaena novae-zelandiae) which is mostly spread through the burrs, or seeds, attaching to our clothes as we walk past.

Six-spot burnet moth

Six-spot burnet moth - Catherine Watson

Other notable species we saw were Grey Partridge (Perdix perdix), Essex Skipper (Thymelicus lineola) and Six-spot Burnet moth (Zygaena filipendulae).

By the end of the day I had learnt several new species and had a new appreciation of just how diverse even a disused quarry can get. I am so grateful to Jeremy and Caroline for their patience and enthusiasm throughout the day too! 

Catherine