Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Withymead Nature Reserve visit, 6th May 2013

On Bank Holiday Monday, Sally organised a return visit to Withymead Nature Reserve on the outskirts of Goring, where we had been for the joint Green Gym session with Sonning Common in April. This time it was not to work but to see the Loddon Lilies in full bloom.

The Loddon Lily or Summer Snowflake (Leucojum aestivum) is a rare plant found in only a few areas of Southern Britain. It was first identified growing by the River Loddon in Hampshire, hence its name, but Withymead has the most extensive area of these plants in the country. It resembles a taller, larger snowdrop, with a distinctive green spot on the outside of each petal.

There were twelve of us on this visit, including two German visitors, who have been helping Green Gym during their house exchange holiday in England. We were given a tour of the reserve by Dorothy, one of the volunteer wardens, with plenty of time to admire the Loddon Lilies, which grow in the boggy areas close to the river, and to learn more about the history of the site and plans for its future development. We then had our picnic while basking in the sunshine outside the Visitors Centre and enjoying tea, coffee and cake provided for us.

Dorothy showed us various ingenious habitat piles and wildlife "hotels" then lifted up an old door which sheltered a grass snake and some slow worms. Some of us were interested but others beat a hasty retreat! 

We could not have wished for better weather for this trip and look forward to returning to the reserve in the near future.

-Eleanor

loddon lillies

close-up of the plant

picnic lunch

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