Nine intrepid members met in pouring rain with the occasional flash of lightning to stroll around the downland and admire the chalk grassland plants. Fortunately, the rain gradually gave way to watery sunshine. Most of the species anticipated were found, with rather fewer pyramidal orchids than expected but plenty of squinancywort, centaury, perfiolate yellow-wort, stemless thistles, thyme and scabious. An area disturbed by rabbit activity was investigated in the hope of rediscovering the white horehound noted in 2006 but that was absent. That area did produce several plants of common gromwell.
Moving round to Lough Down we were impressed by the different appearance of the grassland: salad burnet was very plentiful and there were many anthills. Detailed inspection of these showed that each had its own ecology, some had a mixture of plant species, some had mainly rockroses, some mainly thyme.
Some butterflies were seen, mainly meadow browns, but the weather precluded sightings of any rarer species.
(article by Chris Bucke, photos & species list by Ricki Bull)
Rock rose (not in flower)
Moth – Heart and Club