Chris Durdin, NWT Thorpe Marshes
Whisper it quietly, but November can be a rather dull month at NWT Thorpe Marshes. Sure, some winter birds have arrived, like snipe and meadow pipits on the grazing marshes. But, as often as not, there are no wintering ducks on the gravel pit we call St Andrew’s Broad – numbers build up when winter begins to bite.
So on November’s monthly wildlife walk, I set a challenge to those who came: how many species of wild flowers can we find? Not leaves or dead stems, but actually in flower.
|Meadowsweet, photo by Chris Durdin|
The answer was surprising: 32. Granted, some of these were flowers of disturbed ground that you might find anywhere, such as white dead-nettle and black nightshade. Proper marsh flowers included water chickweed and some immaculate meadowsweet. The daisy family – ‘composites’ in the eyes of botanists – was easily the most numerous group, with ten species from sow-thistles to yarrow.
The five umbellifers on the list are a curious mixture. Two were genuinely late species to flower that may linger until frosts arrive: upright hedge parsley and angelica. Two others, cow parsley and hogweed, are spring flowers that often throw up autumn flowers when vegetation is cut, such as on roadside verges or, like here, on the riverside footpath. The fifth was giant hogweed, that potentially invasive alien, controlled by the NWT reserves team in the recent past but growing again.
The list of 32 November flowers and details of monthly walks are on http://www.honeyguide.co.uk/thorpemarshes.htm