Friday, 1 August 2014

Precariously perched

It's rather a grey day today.  However, I had arranged with a fellow grassland surveyor to spend the morning, precariously perched, on the north face of Traprain Law.  Because I have been away, I have not been able to take part in the survey of four of the sites on the law, but there was one more to record, as part of this year's grassland survey for East Lothian Council.  The Exmoor ponies, who live on the law, have spent another year munching their way through the negative indicators growing on the grassy slopes, i.e. things like Yorkshire Fog and False Oat Grass. These, along with other thugs such as nettle and bracken, are the plants that prevent the smaller wild flowers from flourishing and encouraging the pollinators to do their thing, to improve the biodiversity of our area.  

The view from Traprain today was murky, very little colour in the countryside now that August is here.  The blue-grey cabbage field breaks things up a bit, but I am not a fan of this month.  I love a bit of colour!
We found some lovely harebells, the bluebell of Scotland, and also pignut.  Forager Alys Fowler says the root is delicious to eat, but I haven't felt the urge to dig any up yet!
We had 10 quadrats to survey.  In amongst these squares we found the above mentioned harebell and pignut, plus violet, lady's bedstraw, plantain, wood sage, tormentil, yellow vetchling, and a whole host of different grasses - good ones, and thankfully very few bad boys.  
Half way through our session it started to spot with rain.  By the time we had reached the 8th quadrat it was very wet indeed.  When we eventually got back to the car, I had water running down my neck.  It was time to get home, but we finished the survey and I think it was a job well done, until next year!

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