Friday 24 August 2012

August Flowers and Bees at Lower Winskill Farm

Today I visited Lower Winskill Farm. Tom Lord was keen to show me the Field Gentians that he had been shown last week. Usually I visit in May and June. It was fascinating to see the difference two month's later - two months of a very wet summer.

In the ungrazed limestone pasture/meadows the Knapweed had grown extraordinarily well. It was in full flower (100m lower by the road to Settle it is over) (This year it has all come at once" said Tom.

We started off from his farm accompanied by Tanya St Pierre who would be running a workshop on bees at the weekend.

She was delighted by the abundance of Knapweed and bees on it, even on this very humid grey day.

Honey bee

Hoverfly - must look this up

Bombus terrestris    Buff-tailed Bumble Bee


We walked further north into the pasture that leads towards Stainforth.

We found several plants of Grass of Parnassus - Tom has not seen them in this field before.
Is this because he has reduced grazin - or because we have had a very wet summer?

The we came to what we were looking for. First some Autumn Gentian - Relatively Common at this time of year on shallow grassland on limestone

And then just a few plants of the Field Gentian. It has four petals and two big sepals overlapping two small sepals.

An interesting fungus on the way back.

Saturday 18 August 2012

Poa palustris - Swamp Meadow-grass

Grass of the Month for July 2012

Swamp Meadow-grass is rare. It was introduced to this country.

It is similar to Wood Meadow-grass Poa nemoralis in that the shoots are very slender and rounded.

The spikelets small and scattered. The leaves look flat and it is hard to see their boat-shaped tips.

So like P nemoralis, the leaves look a bit like an Agrostis - though in this case it would be Agrostis gigantea, becasue the shoots are tall - but still very slender and gangly. The Swamp Meadow-grass grows amongst reeds which holds it up

The key difference between palustris and nemoralis is that the former has a long ligule and the latter a short one.. In fact at Leighton Moss this month I thought I had found some P nemoralis .. until I realised it had a very long ligule.

Both places I have seen it are RSPB Nature Reserves, and in both cases beside a path/boards/bridge amongst the Reeds. - At Loch of Kinnordy near Kirriemuir, and at Leighton Moss

(See other months' grasses)

Poa compressa - Flattened Meadow-grass

Grass of the Month for August 2012

Poa compressa is rare around Settle. Settle is more or less in the centre of mainland Britain so you see we are getting to the northern edge of its distribution.

Around here it grows on very thin limestone soil... in fact on almost bare ground.

The shoots are much more compressed than the common Poa trivialis and Poa pratensis. It has short rhizomes/trailing shoots- though as it grows on bare rock they cannot grow under ground.  the first internode grows almost horizontally then the next one at an angle - in fact the whole shoot is often at an angle.  It forms thin tufts.. As it is growng on bare rock such a substratum cannot support a dense tuft.

The head is small and compact compared to P trivialis and P pratensis.. and flattened.

The rest of this post rambles on about all the places I have found this rather inconsequential small ting grass.   (Go  to the index for other grasses if you'd rather..  or will you die of curiosity if you don't read where I've found it.?)

I was first shown it on the gravel near Settle Railway Station over 30 years ago, but that land got built on or tarmacked over and the flower beds covered with woodchip.

Sometimes we used to find it (20 years ago) on the limestone in the quarried area adjacent to the

obelisk at Gait Barrows Reserve.

I saw it on a deserted railway between Skipton and Colne 20 years ago.

I saw it on a wall beside a track leading north of Stainforth down to the river.

(Isn't it amazing that such a small, often dried up plant can have so much space devoted to it!)

For the past ten years till two years ago I took my students to see it on the traffic island at the junction of the north end of Settle Bypass.




But it hasn't been there the last two years - maybe it got too dry. Or the herbicide finally killed it off.

However, during Open Gardens last year I discovered a patch on someone's drive in Stainforth.


I went back and photographed it this April . Much of it was very dead - you could see the prostrate mat of last years shoots. But new shoots were coming through

See it does like growing on stony ground

(See other months' grasses)

Klebsormidium crenulatum - filamentous green alga on CCG walk

On 28th July Craven Conservation Group went for a walk to Ryeloaf Hill.

we were just about one mile east of Settle, a field above the old reservoir, and had to climb a stile. (we were south of South Craven Fault - just - so on millstone grit.

Look at the Klebsormidium on the rock

Enjoy the Flowers of Langcliffe churchyard

Its the first ever Langcliffe Show on Saturday 18th August and will be held in the Church and in the Institute. On Thursday I walked round the churchyard and enjoyed looking for wildflowers. Kenneth had mowed the lawns - but there are still gems to be found.  

I wonder if my greeting card pictures of flowers will win a prize in the show?

Entrance to Langcliffe church

The Institute is seen here from the Hydrangea next to the church


Herb Robert
Shining cranesbill

Broad leaved willowherb


Urtica dioica - OK, Nettle


Spiders have made webs in the juniper to catch falling insects

Yorkshire fog


Now i think its Shing Cranesbill

Herb Robert


Hoverfly close-up

View from church towards PikeLane