Library's nature table is brimming with wildlife

Melinda Keeble, Library assistant with Flora Sidotiensis by W H Cullen 1849

Melinda Keeble, Library assistant with Flora Sidotiensis by W H Cullen 1849 - Credit: Sidmouth Library

The Sidmouth Library Virtual Nature Table Facebook group has been buzzing with activity since it launched in May last year. 

The virtual group was set up to show the myriad of wildlife to be found in the Sid Valley while the country was in lockdown and the library’s physical ‘nature table’ was closed.
Now that the library is open the group is keen to show their best finds so far this year and the current exhibition is capturing people’s imagination. 

Melinda Keeble, Sidmouth library assistant, said: “The task we have set ourselves is to find as many of the plant species listed in the Flora Sidotiensis, a small, unassuming book compiled in 1849 by W H Cullen, a gentleman who collated his findings of the Sid Valley and surrounding areas.
“In his book, Mr Cullen records finding the great sundew in ‘bogs at Bickwell’, obviously indicating a different landscape to the one we see now. The great sundew is now extremely rare everywhere. Round-leaved and long-leaved sundews were also found in bogs on Salcombe Hill and Peak Hill.
“Many of the species were prolific in the ‘corn-fields’ which again shows us how altered our landscape has become. There are nine different types of clover listed in the book, including zigzag clover, hare-foot, subterranean and the very pretty strawberry clover, that Mr Cullen found in ‘Hedgerows in lanes’.
“The challenge over the summer months, and up until the end of the year, is to see how many of the remaining number of species we can add to the tally. So far, we have ticked off over 100 of the 648 original species and added 19 new ones. Our thanks to all those individuals and the Sid Valley Biodiversity Group for taking part.
“July and August will be a time of plenty, so it would be great if as many participants as possible can record their own findings. Posting them as a picture on the Sidmouth Library Virtual Nature Table Facebook group and telling us the location is the easiest way to communicate any finds. If you know what the species is, please label your picture, and if you are not sure we can all have a go with the identification. It's all part of the fun! So don't forget your camera or phone when you're next out walking. You never know what you may come across. Happy wandering.”

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