Last Thursday I travelled over to Kent Wildlife Trust Tyland’s Barn for my Field Identification Skills Certificate assessment to give me a benchmark level for my year of botanical studying. On a scale of 0 – “general population” to 7 – “outstanding – national referree”, I was really pleased to get a Level 3 “reasonable ID skills – some flowering plants, some common grasses, sedges or ferns – an improver”. Now I know how much work I need to do in the next twelve months if I’m going to make it to Level 5, the minimal level for teaching professional ID courses.

I already know some habitats in the south east in which I’m particularly weak: acid heathland, coastal and salt-marsh and fresh water for starters.

So my mission to improve started this weekend with a walk round south east London looking for dandelion-a-like flowers. Here’s a pic of a favourite of mine, the instantly recognisable Bristly Ox-tongue.