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Essex Field Club
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Essex Field Club

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EFC Centre at Wat Tyler Country ParkWe are closed due to the Covid-19 situation, but we are otherwise normally open to the public at our centre at Wat Tyler Country Park every Saturday, Sunday and bank holiday 11am-4pm, check. We are also normally open on Wednesdays 10am-4pm.

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This forum has now been more or less replaced by the Club's Facebook page at
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The weblog below is for naturalists to use to report interesting sightings, ask questions, report on field meetings and generally post pictures and any information or questions generally relevant in some way to the wildlife and geology of Essex. You will need to register and be logged-on to post to the forum, and you need to upload pictures first, for use in posts. Find out more

Tue 10th August 2010 16:39 by Graham Smith
The Mystery of the Reappearing Hare's Ears
Blue House Farm EWT Reserve : In 2008 a botanical survey of this reserve was carried out. One of the species on the hit list was the Slender Hare's Ear Bupleurum tenuissimum, a plant encountered there previously, usually growing in seepage areas on the flat grassy area between the seawall and adjoining borrowdyke. Despite repeated searches this spindly annual with tardily opening umbels of tiny white flowers failed to show. It is declining in Essex and this result seemed to suggest its demise at Blue House. This year further searches were made. June turned to July without any luck but on August 1st a small patch was found at the eastern end of the reserve, close to Bridgemarsh Creek. A return visit on 9th revealed not one patch but dozens, stretching for several hundred yards back towards North Fambridge. A 1m x 1m quadrat was marked out in a sample patch and the plants inside counted. This was then extrapolated over the entire area where they were growing and the result was a rough estimate of around 20,000 plants! Some demise!

What has changed between 2009 and 2010? The Environment Agency have been working on repairing the seawall in that area for the past two winters, often using heavy machinery to do so. The damage they caused to the grassland at the base of the seawall seemed to have little effect on the flora in 2009 but in March this year, with the end of the financial year looming and money to spend, they decided to give the seawall a spring cut. The ground was still wet from the winter rains and as a result their machinery goughed out huge ruts, especially in existing seepage areas, leaving large areas of bare mud exposed. Earlier this summer there had been a dramatic upsurge in the amount of Lesser Sea Spurrey Spergularia marina, Grass-leaved Orache Atriplex littoralis, Sea Rush Juncus gerardii, Borrer's Saltmarsh Grass Puccinellia fasciculata, and both Hard Grass Parapholis strigosa and Curved Hard Grass P. incurva growing in these areas but they proved to be just the forerunners for this spectacular display; or at least it was spectacular if you like thin, straggly, weedy looking umbellifers! A bonus, on this particular day, was a large group of Corn Parsley Petroselinum segetum growing among them, a new species for the reserve and one long looked out for. And the moral of this story : if you are a botanist never pass up the chance to examine disturbed ground, whether it be a roadside verge of chewed up seawall.



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