Saturday, 25 August 2012

Marcham Salt Marshes

At the end of August last year, I went along to Marcham to help with an informal survey on a patch of salt marsh, just outside Abingdon.

"Salt marsh?" I thought. "But we're about as far inland as it's possible to get!"

It turns out that there have been saltwater springs there since the Roman times, and a small corner of an arable field had been set-aside by the owners, to allow the area's vegetation to regenerate, to see if there would be any regrowth of Wild Celery which apparently was brought over by the Romans, and can tolerate the saltiness of the earth around the springs.

Judy was in charge, and my word she is quick! We rushed around the section of the field, initially just looking for the Wild Celery, then roughly counting it, then just noting the fact that there was actually quite a lot of it.

Along the way we found Veronica beccabunga - always a favourite of mine, due to the incredibly silly name - and water chickweed, both indicative of how wet the ground was. We also found both types of Scrophularia (another silly-name favourite of mine), S. nodosa (Common Figwort) with the pointed leaves and square stems: and S. auriculata (Water Figwort) with leaves that were toothed, but rounded in outline - and the stem also square, but having additional wings at each corner.

Along with quite a lot of other stuff, but I didn't have time to make a list. The three of us worked as a team: Judy identified, I referenced with the books, and Ann made the list. Part of the rush was the impending black clouds,  not to mention lunchtime, so I only had time for a brief chat with Rob, who arrived late.

Unfortunately there's no point anyone rushing out there to have a look, as it's private ground, although the owners are being most obliging with not ploughing that corner, and allowing people onsite to survey it.  So I won't give the exact location.

This was an interesting outing for me, as it was very different from our casual walkaround at Abbey Fishponds the week before. As Judy is very experienced, it was not ID, it was recognition, which is not the same thing at all.

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