A survey of the plant life of Blithfield Reservoir was made on 15 August 2006. The visit was made as part of the Staffordshire Flora Project, for which more than forty members of the Botanical Society of the British Isles and/or Staffordshire Wildlife Trust are gathering data covering the period 1995–2008. There are well over 800 tetrads (2km × 2km squares) involved and portions of the Reservoir lie in four of them. Work has already been undertaken in other parts of these tetrads.
(at south-west corner)
|Additional Records||Total Records|
Catapodium rigidum (Fern-grass) grew on the ground of the Education Centre car park. The most significant finds for the reservoir proper were as follows.
There was a paucity of these. There were small quantities of Elodea canadensis (Canadian Waterweed), Potamogeton pectinatus (Fennel Pondweed — by the causeway at the end of Admaston Reach, SK05492368), P. pusillus (Lesser Pondweed — drain near River Blythe, SK04742539), Ranunculus aquatilis s.l.  (a Water-crowfoot), R. aquatilis s.s.  (Common Water-crowfoot — in SK02R), Lemna minuta (Least Duckweed), L. minor (Common Duckweed), L. trisulca (Ivy-leaved Duckweed) and Equisetum fluviatile (Water Horsetail).
The nationally scarce Limosella aquatica (Mudwort) was frequent in much of SK02M, SK02L and SK02R with, in particular, tens of thousands of plants at the north end of Tad Bay and much around the pools at Watery Lane Bay. Littorella uniflora (Shoreweed) was scattered throughout. There was no trace of Lythrum portula (Water Purslane), which often occurs round such water bodies: it was thought that this needs a more stony surface in which to survive.
Persicaria amphibia (Amphibious Bistort) was frequent and Potentilla anserina (Silverweed) abundant. No Mentha aquatica (Water Mint) was seen, but there were many young examples of M. arvensis (Corn Mint) and M. x gracilis (Bushy Mint), with M. x piperata (Peppermint) at SK04742533. There were abundant seedlings of Gnaphalium uliginosum (Marsh Cudweed) and Chenopodium rubrum (Red Goosefoot). Rorippa palustris (Marsh Yellow-cress) was occasional and a single Rumex maritimus (Golden Dock) was seen at SK06032481, in Duckley Reach.
Carex hirta (Hairy Sedge), Stachys palustris (Marsh Woundwort), Galeopsis tetrahit s.s.  (Common Hemp-nettle), Bidens tripartita (Trifid Bur-marigold), Eleocharis palustris (Common Spike-rush), Salix cinerea (Grey Willow), S. viminalis (Osier) and S. fragilis (Crack Willow) were much in evidence as were the commoner Juncus (Rush) species. Schoenoplectus lacustris (Common Club-rush — Duckley Reach, SK05932561), Typha latifolia (Bulrush), Alisma plantago-aquatica (Water-plantain), Lythrum salicaria (Purple Loosestrife), Salix caprea, S. alba (Goat Willow and White Willow), the hybrid Willow, S. x reichardtii (SK05992430), Pulicaria dysenterica (Yellow Fleabane), Equisetum palustre (Marsh Horsetail), Carex otrubae, C. acutifomis (False Fox-sedge and Lesser Pond-sedge), Lycopus europaeus (Gypsywort) and Bidens cernua (Nodding Bur-marigold) were infrequent or rare: many as the result of grazing.
Leontodon taraxacoides (Lesser Hawkbit) was near the boathouse at SK07002260
Sheep-grazing is permitted around most of the Reservoir margins and has had a devasting effect on the Flora; most of the herbage had been devoured. Where sheep have been excluded, for instance on the east side of Tad Bay, grazing by bird-life becomes more evident (and appreciable). It was not clear what the latter's preferences are, except that the presence of but a single scrap of Rumex maritimus may have been significant in this respect.
We are grateful to Graham Harrison and Andy Mabbett of the West Midland Bird Club for their advice and to Tim Fletcher and Steve Blower of South Staffordshire Water for permitting and facilitating our access to the site.
John E. Hawksford
Ian J. Hopkins
Our thanks to John and Ian.
[1^] s.l. stands for sensu lato and means "in a loose sense" and is used when there are one or two other less-common species very similar to the one cited (in this case just one other — Ranunculus peltatus, Pond Water-crowfoot) and it is not possible to decide which it is.
[2^], [3^] s.s. stands for sensu stricto and means "in the strict sense" and is used when it is certain which of the aforementioned group that it is.
Blithfield is a 800-acre (324 hectare) drinking-water supply reservoir, situated to the West of Abbotts Bromley in Staffordshire, England, at SK0524 .
Ornithology in Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire & the West Midlands county, since 1929.
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