Saturday 29 December 2018

2018 Wildlife Review: Plants & Fungi

As has become customary the year started with the annual BSBI New Year plant hunt, this year a record 43 plants were found in flower on 1st January. This compares with 25 in 2017.

This good start to the year didn’t last as very cold and wet weather set in. This delayed the appearance of Sand Crocus. The first of which wasn’t in flower until 5th April, nearly three weeks later than in 2017. 
 Sand Crocus - Alan Keatley

As the weather warmed up Upright Chickweed and Shepherd’s Cress could be found in the short dune grassland with three Snake’s-head Fritillary in Greenland Lake and a patch of Mossy Stonecrop near the amusements were good discoveries. The latter doubled the site population, one of only two in Devon.

The first orchid of the year to flower was the Warren's only Green-winged Orchid on 4th May.  By the end of May numbers of Southern Marsh Orchid started to come into flower, followed by seven Bee Orchid near the Dune Pond and 13 Pyramidal Orchid on Warren Point.  Both these species are steadily increasing in number.
Bee Orchid - Alan Keatley
As Summer progressed great swathes of Marsh Helleborine were in flower by the visitor centre and Greenland Lake producing a spectacular display. In August the late flowering Autumn Lady’s-tresses added to mix, including first record from Warren Point. Both the latter species were also in flower at the same time for the first year ever.

As the hot weather conditions continued, the heat loving Sea Daffodil flowered on Warren Point. Dawlish Warren is only one of three sites nationwide where this rare flower is found. Another dune specialist, Sea Holly could be found at the very end of Warren Point, but in smaller numbers than last year. A large patch was washed away in the previous Autumn storms. Unfortunately this area has suffered again in recent bad weather.

Sea Daffodil
As the food plant of Brimstone butterfly the discovery of Alder Buckthorn on site was doubly welcomed, the only other new species added this year was also native, Amphibious Bistort. A single Tomato plant (that produced fruit) and Black Bindweed, both rare on site, were found growing on the dune ridge, probably pumped ashore as part of the Beach recharge.

Autumn is the time of year for fungi, and the discovery of several Fly Agaric in October was surprisingly the first site record since 1955!

 Fly Agaric - Alan Keatley

Also to be found were the large but less colourful Parasol and Horse Mushroom. Less noticeable, but new for the site were the fungi Melampsora lini - a rust on Fairy Flax and Microbotryum violaceum, the appealingly named Sea Campion Anther Smut.

Parasol Mushroom - Alan Keatley

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