29th June 2014 - Portland Bill, Dorset.

Just a quick overnighter, we didn't arrive until after 8pm. Had a quick chat with John Martin (he's only the top plant and bird lister on this site!) before retiring early with the missus. The next morning we ambled around The Bill area finding quite a few Pale Flax (lifer!) and a handful of Lulworth Skippers near The Pulpit pub. A patch of Bastard Toadflax was flowering but no sign of the associated shieldbug, although I've seen it here before.

We bumped into John again just as we were leaving who was keen to put me onto Dorset's sole surviving original plant of Wild Asparagus. I listened attentively (by my standards) and hoped I'd remember the directions long enough to find the plant. There's an amazing story behind this plant which is worth repeating here. It seems that Wild Asparagus used to be present at several sites in Dorset, but for a number of reasons all known plants have been lost apart from one female plant on Ferrybridge. One female plant does not a colony make, so male flowers from Cornish populations on The Lizard were rushed over and sprinkled all over the female plant. Brilliantly, the female plant produced a mass of berries which were cared for and the seeds scattered around the female plant. The following year proved the success of this last ditch attempt to save the species from extinction in Dorset - several small plants were now present!!! John stressed the importance of not trampling any small plants underfoot and wished us luck as we sped off.

A short while later I was staring blankly at the masses of vegetation growing along Ferrybridge as far as the eye could see. Hmmm....this could prove tricksy! Thankfully I persevered and a few minutes later found myself grinning at the distinctive leaves of the original female Wild Asparagus plant!!!! Yay, I felt like giving her a hug! I called to Sami who, through binoculars, also saw this rare plant. We did a little high-five through the air then I started to see the young plants by my feet. Taking great care I made my way back to the footpath, I counted 5 more plants. Cheers for the mega, John! 

Unfortunately it wasn't all good times. Sami and I had hoped to sort out a few issues but things never do go to plan. A short while later we agreed that things between us haven't really been working out quite how we'd anticipated. New Zealand couldn't fix it. Sami quitting work couldn't fix it. I definitely couldn't fix it. I've lost my wife and my best friend and now, one month later, it still hurts very badly.

Species category: