Thursday, 14 June 2018

30 Days Wild - Day 11 - Malham Tarn - Ha Mire - Sedges - Butterflies - Birds

There is lots to add for today, 11th June. Enough for four posts.

Today  was the last day of the Sedges Course. We spent a while in the lab in the morning going over identification tips for the 29 members of the sedge family we had seen so far in the weekend. Then we set off for Ha Mire to the east of the Field Centre.

I looked hard for this tiny member for the Cyperaceae

The very finest "grass" you can see in the very fore-ground is Bristle Club Rush - Isolepis setacea..

Only a couple of flowering heads had half emerged. So here is a picture I took earlier of a fully grown plant. (in 2004)
Impressive, eh?

Towards the end of the session at the East end I was pleased to find some Carex demissa (aka Carex viridula subsp oedocarpa) - the Common Yellow-sedge. This grows in more acid places than the Long-stalked Yellow-sedge, and is very uncommon on the Malham Estate.. 

There is usually and extra female flower head near the base of the plant (see on the left) 

The utricle beaks stick out more and do not bend back as much as in the Long-stalked Yellow Sedge

We also saw the Broad-leaved Cotton-grass, the Slender Spikerush and the Few-flowered Spikerush, and Carex fulva a cross between Tawny Sedge and the Long-stalked Yellow-sedge.. bringing our total to 34 species and one hybrid. .. (The total number of Cyperaceae in UK is about 107)

Next we found three butterflies.. Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary (still waiting for confirmation of identificiaton)

After the sedge group had left I sat at the table on the lawn with a Leeds University Ecology/Zoology Student.  They were all doing research projects. He and his friends were comparing feeding behaviour in  woodland and in the open. He had spent 1 hour  and the bird feeder had been visited by only four chaffinches feeding on seed on the ground, which spent about 3 minutes each. Suddenly we saw a greater spotted woodpecker arrive.

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After his friends arrived back, I went down onto the lower lawn
Sweet Vernal grass and Meadow( or Downy?)  Oat-grass
and Bloody Cranesbill -Geranium sanguinium catching the late afternoon sun

As I was leaving, I looked back to the rockery... where the "Fairy Foxglove" grows.. shucks, I had forgotten to show them the  (planted) Carex muricata - The Large-fruited Prickly-sedge

It had nine flowering shoots this year - not yet eaten by deer or rabbits.

This only grows in the wild in about 5 sites.
Maybe they'll come back another year to see it!!.

Why not come on the Wild Flowers course on 4-7 July. I wonder what we'll see then? 

Monday, 11 June 2018

30 Days Wild - Day 10 - Malham Tarn Peat Bog - drying up

Today we calked across Malham Tarn Peat Bog to Spiggott Hill, and beyond in search of more sedges. The recent spell of dry weather is causing the water table to lower.
This looks as if it had once been a pool

This is one of the recently bunded pools that till has water  in it.. just.
Here we are looking at the peat bank where Judith used to carry out pollen analysis with sixth formers. Normally standing here we would have been  in the tarn with water almost over our welly-boots . 
The peat bank

This is one of the peat pools by the board walk.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

30 Days Wild - Day 9 - Trips to search for sedges in Malhamdale reveal other other creatures too - Moths and Mayflies

There is so much to learn about sedges that we had not even left the centre by lunchtime.. - but look what we saw on the lawn. I am so glad it is still being looked after. and that rabbits or deer have not eaten it.
Early afternoon and we are on our way. Marsh Spike-rush - a member of the Cyperaceae that is not a Carex

It's a hard life.....

You need a hand lens to see details

Or maybe just big eyes...   a mayfly
Green Carpet moth
Green Carpet moth from underneath
A stonefly which would not sit still
Gold Swift - (picture slightly odd because of focus stacking.
Finally we reach Gordale..
by which time it's time to return for supper.


Friday, 8 June 2018

30 Days Wild - Day 8 - It's Sedges at Malham Tarn - but lots of other wildlife too

The first evening on the Malham Tarn Sedges course we walk out to Ha Mire to look for sedges (Cyperaceae)

See how low the tarn is! The cattle come down to drink. The air is filled with mayflies

First we search in the limestone grassland
It doesn't show at this scale, but this person'jumper is covered with white mayfly.
Then in the mire.
This dark area would normally be a pool, but it has dried up

Looking back through Cotton-grass towards the setting sun.  Can you see the Marsh Arrow-grass towards the left?


Just for the record.. and to emphasize the drought, earlier that afternoon...
Earlier this afternoon I had stopped at a Limekiln in Plantlife's Winskill Reserve, to look for the Mossy Saxifrage. Yes a patch is there on the face of the kiln - but the rest that grew on the top has all been eaten. Other plants growing out of the side of the kiln are dying because of the drought.

30 Days Wild - Day 7 - Dusk chorus

Day 7' s activity was an evening walk in a friend's beautifully kept garden, listening to the dusk chorus, before going in for "Safari Supper desert". The lawn has just been mowed.. and with the lack of rain it will last quite a few days!

From the garden there is a view to Pen y Ghent in the north

And Castleberg Crag in the East

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

30 Days Wild - Day 6 - How many grasses do you think we found in this meadow?

Some friends had planted some trees in one of their fields. With no grazing, the plants had lots of opportunity to flower. Today we went to find out what plants, especially grasses, were growing in the field and the stream at the edge.

Sunny evening- we looked at the field in the foreground briefly, the river and the field with the newly planted trees.

Discovering different grasses
The dog wants to learn about grasses too.

That's better- the best educated dog in Craven with respect to Grasses

Taking the grasses home to stick them on card.

We also included sedges. This one has hairs on the leaves, and strong rhizomes (underground shoots)

See the four red coloured rhizomes  growing forward like spears. Yes, It's Hairy Sedge, Carex hirta
Wintercress  -Barbarea vulgaris

Altogether including two rushes, one woodrush. two sedges and 18 grasses we found 23 grasslike plants.