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Watlington Hill – 15 September 2012

Renéee Grayer led a walk at the National Trust’s Watlington Hill on a pleasant sunny afternoon on Saturday 15th September. A number of butterflies were flying round the car park, including a Holly Blue, a Red Admiral and a Speckled Wood. The party set out through the woodland and out onto the open hillside. Vervain, Yellow Rattle in abundance, Wild Basil, Common Centaury and Yellow-wort were amongst the first flowers encountered. A small-flowered gentian was identified as Autumn Gentian. Many of them had already finished flowering. A much larger-flowered plant was clearly a Chiltern Gentian, with transverse wrinkles up the outside of the corolla tube and a relatively short calyx at its base. But then a number of intermediate flowers were found, showing characteristics of both plants – perhaps hybrids between the 2 species. A single Small Heath butterfly was spotted on a sheltered slope. Then the Frog Orchids started to appear – first one, then 5 and eventually about 30. They are small and yellowish-green and very easily overlooked. There were white-flowered specimens of Small Scabious and Common Milkwort and other finds included Blue Fleabane, Common Rock-rose, Squinancywort and Eyebright. The spikes of Heath Speedwell were found on top of ant-hills.

On the short grassland at the top of the ridge were rings of an orange fungus with a sunken cap, probably some sort of Milk-cap. Also found here was a specimen of The Miller, which had a smooth pale cap, a distinctive smell and an off-centre stalk. In the disturbed soil where the Sonning Common Green Gym had cut down encroaching hawthorn last winter were clumps of Wild Candytuft and a single plant of Deadly Nightshade. A  male Brimstone butterfly flew past as the group walked back into woods.

Pictures by Rob Stallard and Jan Haseler

RDNHS excursion to Watlington Hill (15-9-2012)
Leader: Renée Grayer; 15 participants
Agrimonia eupatoria Agrimony
Asperula cynanchica Squinancywort
Atropa belladonna Deadly Nightshade (leaves)
Betula pendula Silverbirch
Blackstonia perfoliata Yellowwort
Brachypodium sylvaticum False Brome
Briza media Quaking-grass
Campanula rotundifolia Harebell
Campanula glomerata Clustered Bellflower
Carlina vulgaris Carline Thistle
Centaurium erythraea Common Centaury
Chamerion angustifolium Rosebay Willowherb
Cirsium acaule Dwarf Thistle
Cirsium arvense Creeping Thistle
Cirsium palustre Marsh Thistle
Cirsium vulgare Spear Thistle
Clematis vitalba Traveller’s-joy
Clinopodium vulgare Wild Basil
Coeloglossum viride Frog Orchid
Cornus sanguinea Dogwood
Crataegus monogyna Hawthorn
Crepis capillaris Smooth Hawk’s-beard
Epilobium montanum Broad-leaved Willowherb
Erigeron acer Blue Fleabane
Euphrasia pseudokerneri Chalk Eyebright
Fragaria vesca Wild Strawberry
Galium verum Lady’s Bedstraw
Gentianella amarella Autumn Gentian
Gentianella germanica Chiltern Gentian
Glechoma hederacea Ground-ivy (leaves)
Helianthemum nummularium Common Rock-rose
Hypericum perforatum Perforate St John’s-wort
Iberis amara Wild Candytuft
Ligustrum vulgare Wild Privet
Linum catharticum Fairy Flax
Lotus corniculatus Common Bird’s-foot-trefoil
Mentha arvensis Corn Mint
Myosotis arvensis Field Forget-me-not
Origanum vulgare Marjoram
Polygala vulgaris Common Milkwort (with white flowers)
Potentilla erecta Tormentil
Prunella vulgaris Selfheal
Reseda lutea Wild Mignonette
Reseda luteola Weld
Rhinanthus minor Yellow-rattle
Rubus fruticosus agg. Bramble
Sambucus nigra Elder
Sanguisorba minor Salad Burnet
Scabiosa columbaria Small Scabious (one with white flowers)
Senecio jacobaea Common Ragwort
Taxus baccata Yew
Thymus polytrichus Wild Thyme
Ulex europaeus Gorse
Urtica dioica Common Nettle
Verbascum nigrum Dark Mullein
Verbena officinalis Vervain
Veronica officinalis Heath Speedwell
Viola hirta Hairy Violet (leaves)
Holly Blue
Red Admiral
Speckled Wood
Small Heath