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More books and a botanical walk

June 14, 2016

Jane and I were stewarding at the Dove on Sunday afternoon. More books had appeared! “Zoo” is a beautifully-produced and satisfyingly chunky little book of animal-drawings by Bron’s grandson Theo. My favourite page is “Instructions for building a horse”.

Theo Zoo

Below is Pat’s pocket-sized field guide to the White Field.

White Field

This patch of land supports myriads of plants, insects, birds and animals that have been natives of Somerset in this region for thousands of years. Surrounded by arable land and rye-grass leys, it is a reminder of formerly abundant hay meadows that provided grazing and hay for small farmers as well as supporting a great diversity of wildlife. It survives due to Patrick who bought it, changed his name to Whitefield, and gave it to the Somerset Wildlife Trust to keep in perpetuity.

At the end of our shift, Pat (who is a lichenologist and knows a great deal about all manner of plants) took Jane and me on a botanical walk.

From the Dove we crossed a field of ryegrass, stepped over a huge slab of fossiliferous blue lias and across a stream in which hemlock water dropwort grows (Oenanthe crocata) – probably Britain’s most poisonous plant.

Blue lias and Oenanthe


flower carpet

yellow rattle

yellow rattle, a semi-parasite on grass roots

We saw a bumble-bee visiting rattle flowers. Its pollen-sacs were bright orange.

common spotted orchid

common spotted orchid

bee orchid

bee orchid

A small group of very large orchids – possibly a hybrid of common spotted, but uncommonly tall! Click on the photos to enlarge.

pyramidal orchid

pyramidal orchid


Twayblade (Neottia ovata),showing the pair of oval leaves that give it both its common and botanical names

butterfly orchid

lesser butterfly orchid (Platanthera bifolia)

We saw two spikes of this rather uncommon orchid, which has been lost from 75% of its recorded range in England. It is pollinated by night-flying moths.

dog daisies and goatsbeard

dog-daisies and goatsbeard

bird's foot trefoil

bird’s foot trefoil

cowslip seed-heads

cowslip seed-heads


an isolated patch of hogweed

surroundedIt was a good place to be, even for just half an hour. Thank you Pat, you made me ridiculously happy!

See also “Off the grid in Dorset” for more wildflower meadows.


One Comment leave one →
  1. Mary permalink
    June 15, 2016 8:34 am

    That meadow looks idyllic, lovely photos. M xxx

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