Wyre Way Field Trip

Sea Rocket
Our meeting point was close to Rossall Point at Fleetwood where the group assembled at 10.15 in conjunction with members of Liverpool Botanical Society.  One member had made the journey up from Shropshire and, after a great day, was delighted to have made the trip.  
The walk was led by Eric Greenwood who generously shared with us his amazing knowledge of all things botanical though, as one member of the group at Yarrow Valley on Thursday pointed out, "you can only learn five new plants in one day". For me our day was full of interesting new plants so my priority was lots of notes,  photographs and grid references to try and help my ageing brain retain some of the information.

Amongst my sightings at Rossall Point were Sea Spurge, Sea Bindweed, Sea Holly, Wild Carrot, Bloody Crane's-bill, Dewberry, Lesser Burdock, Black Medick, Lady's Bedstraw, Duke of Argyl's Teaplant, Strawberry Clover.  

There were many grasses to be identified with Eric's help including:Lyme Grass, Couch Grass, Soft Brome, False Oat, Marram, False Brome, Rough Stemmed Meadow Grass.

After lunch in the sunshine alongside the Rossall Point observatory and learning about its history from the Wyre wardens on site we continued our walk alongside Fleetwood Golf course resisting the temptation to climb over the fence to examine some of the interesting species to be seen in the rough.

We returned to our cars for the short journey to Fleetwood Marsh Nature Park  to see some of the plants for this sea washed  habitat including two species of Sea Lavender .

Sea Lavender Limonium vulgare
We were all grateful to have the opportunity to learn so much from Eric Greenwood and look forward to more field trips in conjunction with Liverpool Botanical Society and the Wildflower Society in the future. Eric's report of the field trip follows:

Field meeting report, FLEETWOOD 18 JULY 2015

On a bright but windy day thirteen members of Liverpool Botanical Society and The Lancashire Botany Group met at one of Fleetwood’s promenade car parks. After a brief introduction by the leader, Eric Greenwood, the party set off to explore the mobile and fore dunes that had formed in front of the promenade.

Although relatively species poor, a number of interesting species had colonized the dunes. These included an abundance of Sea-holly (Eryngium maritimum), Field Bindweed (Convolulus arvensis) mostly the white flowered forma arvensis, and Sand Cat’s-tail (Phleum arenarium). A feature of these dunes was the abundance of Sea Bindweed (Calystegia soldanella) just coming into full flower.

On the fore dunes the presence Sand Couch (Elytrigia juncea) provided an opportunity to demonstrate what to look for in identifying grasses. There was also an abundance of Ray’s Knotgrass (Polygonum oxyspermum) on the beach together with various Orache species; most were thought to be Frosted Orache (Atriplex laciniata).

After exploring the dunes the high winds provided an opportunity to examine grass-like plants that had been washed out of the small boating pool. These were Beaked Tasselweed (Ruppia maritima). The sandy banks on the north side of the pool revealed Narrow-leaved Meadow-grass (Poa angustifolia), a rare but perhaps overlooked Lancashire species. Earlier its close relative, Spreading Meadow-grass (Poa humilis) was recorded on the dunes.

The party proceeded along the Wyre Way by the side of Fleetwood Golf Course admiring the splashes of colour provided by Bloody Crane’s-bill (Geranium sanguineum) on the dune grassland. Lunch was taken in the shelter of the visitor centre at Rossall Point.

Eventually a sea wall provided some shelter and at the same time conditions became more saline. Identifying grasses became ever more important and difficult. A feature of the Lancashire coast is the presence of Elytrigia hybrids and two of the most frequent were seen in large patches. These were Elytrigia x drucei and Elytrigia x acuta, both involving Sea Couch (Elytrigia atherica) as one parent and which has not been found in the region. Other notable grasses seen were Common and Reflexed Saltmarsh-grasses (Puccinellia maritima and P. distans), Sea Fern-grass (Catapodium maritimum) and Fern-grass (Catapodium rigidum) and Hard-grass. Also noteworthy was Stawberry Clover (Trifolium fragiferum). 

On the road-walk back to the car park Grey Field-speedwell (Veronica polita), Henbit Dead-nettle (Lamium amplexicaule) and possibly Common Fumitory (Fumaria officinalis) were spotted.

In the afternoon Fleetwood Marsh Nature Reserve was visited. Amongst the notable species seen were Small-flowered Crane’s-bill  (Geranium pusillum), Brown Bent (Agrostis vineale)and a salt marsh dominated by Sea-purslane (Atriplex  portulacoides) with purple patches of Common and Lax-flowered Sea-lavenders (Limonium vulgare and L. humile). Members were also able to check the differences between Greater and Lesser Sea-spurrey (Spergularia media and S. marina) and Common Couch  (Elytrigia repens) and Elytrigia x drucei, seen earlier in the day but here forming extensive zones at the top of the marsh. 

Eric Greenwood

July 2015