Week 1 Review : 25th March from Simon

A fantastic response!  I’ve been inundated, and some really good records too. I’m starting to wish we’d set up something like this a few years ago!  Thanks to everyone who emailed, texted of ‘WhatsApped’ during the week – in no particular order, Steve Parker, Liz McDonnell, Ellen McDouall, Georgina Shuckburgh, Margaret Webster, Caroline Giddens, Ro FitzGerald, Christine Louden, Gill Read, Linda Everton, David Hawkins, Helena Crouch.  (Hope I haven’t forgotten anyone.)

In last week’s email I listed 9 spp that I had already seen in flower in the Taunton area, but which I would have expected, in a ‘normal’ year, to start flowering during the last week. Of these, no-one reported seeing Bluebellor Wood Spurge, but I think the rest were all mentioned ‘in dispatches’. Several people reported the first flowering of Moschatel: Margaret near Lords Wood on the 12th, David in the Portishead area on the 15th, Steve in N. Petherton on 16th or 17th, Gill at Postlebury on the 20th, Caroline at Tivington (nr Minehead) on the 21st, and Georgina at Nordrach on Mendip on the 23rd. (My own date in the Taunton area was the 14th, at Fyne Court.) 

Our Week 1 ‘target list’ comprised 19 spp, 12 of which were recorded in flower by at least one person during the week. This was clearly ‘wood-rush week’. Many people (although not me, sadly!) are starting to see Field Wood-rush, Luzula campestris,in flower. Unfortunately the places where I might go to see it here aren’t really within easy walking distance, and I now have no car – for reasons too complicated to explain here. (And not sure, now, how useful a car would actually be.) David had it – that’s Luzula, not the car! – in Portishead on the 15th, Liz in Wedmore on the 18th, Steve in N. Petherton around the 17th, Gill at Postlebury on the 20th, Margaret at Winford on the 21st, and Caroline, on her lawn in Minehead, on the 22nd. Hairy Wood-rush, Luzula pilosa, was also spotted in flower, by me on the 20th, at Thurlbear, and by Caroline at Tivington on the 21st

Cuckooflower, Cardamine pratensis, had already been seen by a few of you in ‘Week 0’, i.e. during the week prior to the start of Week 1: Georgina had it in flower at Hinton Blewett on the 11th, and Margaret near Lords Wood on the 12th. These are much earlier dates than my own in previous years for the Taunton area, but this is probably because it doesn’t seem to be terribly common around here – so the chances of stumbling across it when it’s just starting to flower are much lower as a result. 

Wood-sedge, Carex sylvatica,was seen just starting to flower at Thurlbear on the 20th, and then on the 22nd Margaret spotted it at Bithams Wood. She also spied a single flower of Goldilocks Buttercup, Ranunculus auricomus, and some (unusually early) Sweet Vernal-grass, Anthoxanthum odoratum. Also very early was Warfaring-tree, Viburnum lantana, seen by me near Corfe on the 19th – 13 days earlier than my previous earliest, in 2012.Cowslips, Primula veris,have been popping into flower all over the place, amazingly with three of us all reporting them for the first time in flower on the 20th: me at Thurlbear, Ro at Kilton Church, and David at Portishead. Caroline and Linda have both seen Common Dog-violet, Viola riviniana, with Linda spotting it in her garden – and she provided excellent photos to prove it! 

Only two people have so far reported Lords-and-Ladies, the species that set this hare running in the first place! Ro saw it, in all its glory, on the 22nd in the Kilve area, while Helena had it in her garden on the 24th, her delight at seeing it being pinged through as a WhatsApp message complete with a very nice photo!

As yet, we have had only singleton records for Common Stork’s-bill, Erodium cicutarium (Margaret, on the 20th at Sand Bay), Yellow Archangel, Lamiastrum galeobdolon ssp montanum (Linda, on the 23rd in woods up near Wellington Monument), and Galium aparine (me, in Taunton on the 22nd). 

Taken overall, these dates are mostly very early in comparison with 2008-17 average first flowering dates for the Taunton area. This week, Garlic Mustard, Alliaria petiolata, Common Dog-violet,Cuckooflower, Goldilocks Buttercup, Wood-sedge, Cleavers, and Bush-vetch, Vicia sepium, all recorded their earliest first flowering dates ‘since records began’ (i.e. since 2008!). And, last but not least, I had Wood Melick, Melica uniflora, on the 20th at Thurlbear – an extraordinary date, almost four weeks earlier than my previous earliest back in 2008 and 2011.