Thursday 29 July 2021

Walk and Pray for the Environment: 1 July 2021

1 July 2021's "Walk and Pray for the Climate" event took us to Ashes Pasture.

(Note: There will be a similar walk here on 1 June 2023 - see Climate Walks )

This is a Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Reserve near the head of Ribblesdale

We used prayers for 1 July from  the site Pray and Fast for the Climate 

At the Entrance

Yes- It's Fragrant Orchid

Looking for "Meadow Crane's-bill Weevil" on Wood-Crane's-bill

Meadow Crane's-bill Weevil on Wood-Crane's-bill

Meadow Crane's-bill Weevil on Wood-Crane's-bill

Inside the old barn

Ragged Robin

Wood Horsetail

The Event on 1 August will be a joint event with St Oswald's Church, Horton in Ribblesdale - It is Part of St Oswald's Festival starting at 2pm - It will involve some brisk walking to get round the 3 plus mile walk to get back in time for tea (bring your own sandwiches) at the church at 4pm. St Oswald's Day is actually 5 August.

Sunday 18 July 2021

Askham Bog - York - just a few hightlights of the Yorkshire Naturalists' Union Field Visit on 17 July

 Millions of people (not exaggerating) must have driven along the A64 York Bypass or travelled on the train from Leeds to York without realising what a treasure is so close by. I was one of these people till this day 17 July 2021.

It has been a Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve for many years.- See description here - of how it was formed from a glacial lake held back by a glacial moraine (low hill) along which the A64 now runs.

Two years ago year there was a big campaign as developers wanted to build a big housing estate right up to the edge of the bog. There was an inquiry. With the help of many people, including David Attenborough, awareness was raised of the importance of this site, and the site was saved. Read about the battle to save it here

The site is all the more precious having heard the talks about the history of the vegetation of the Swale and Ure Washlands north of here (historic habitats and species lost to agriculture).

I saw a new sedge (for me) - The rare Gingerbread Sedge. I saw three more rare sedges and was told that a fourth rare one was nearby.  

I saw two rare ferns.

While we had lunch by the pond a Southern Hawker DragonFly came to visit us and a Reed Warbler (not a Sedge Warbler as I first thought) sang from the near by trees


Now it is divided into three "woods" and bordered on the south by the A64 and railway, and on the west by the Golf Course.

I arrive at 10am, on what might be the hottest day of the year so far. I park  and go to find the moths people emptying moth traps. I understand they go on to record  236 species (will update this at the end when I know the total including a good number of new records for the site.)

Buff Tip Moths

Showing passers by what we have found

Alastair Fitter is there and has brought some coffee..!  The moth trappers have already been working several hours..

Recording the moths

Sharon is pleased that some Riverflies have been caught in the moth trap. There have been no species of Mayfly named at the site.. till today!! They also record some Caddis.

Alastair leads a group to visit Far Wood.  To get there we walk through fen and along the board walk. We want to stop to look at new plants and galls and insects on the way.. but if we stop too long we will never get there!  Why am I always getting left behind?  

Oenanthe aquatica - Fine-leaved Water Dropwort

In Far Wood we see Carex elata (a rare sedge) and then Carex elongata (an even rarer sedge).

Carex elata

Carex elongata flowers

There is lots of Marsh Fern 

Thelypteris palustris - This is a rare plant - though I see some has been recorded near Ilkley

We make it to visit the huge Royal Fern.

Looking the huge Royal Fern

Alastair explains that the Royal Fern does not seem to have many predators. Indeed, though this snail seemed to have climbed a long way up, the leaves were not nibbled.
Possibly -Wandering Pondsnail  Lymnaea balthica

On vegetation near the ground as we return I notice a twig that moves - loops -

This twig moves - It is a caterpillar.
Photographing this caterpillar


Alder buckthorn we think..

In Near Wood is a large area classified as Tall Fen. There is regenerating alder which is cut back on a three year rota. Some Belted Gallaway cattle have been introduced but they seem to prefer the nice soft Fen species to the alder.  In the background picture we are looking at some VERY tall Bog Myrtle.

photographing me below

Cladium mariscus  Saw Sedge

Cladium mariscus

In the sheltered parts of the wood in some parts where there is also enough light there are some lichens.  The usual Xamtnthoria parietina and a little  Physcia tenella of course.
A fallen dead hazel branch was supporting these below:

Hypotrachyna afrorevoluta?  (or H revoluta?)

Parmelia sulcata

Ramalina farinosa (and dead centre might be Hypotrachyna revoluta)

I hesitate to give names to any of the fungi.  This was a polypore

Polypore from above, on rotting log

Here I am holding - upside down - a shoot of Carex lasiocarpa. - English name: Slender sedge. You can see the fibrillae (top right) . The tip of the inner face of the sheath (centre of picture) is dark red.

Helen and I tramp  round on the Tall fen and find lots of Sphagnum squarrosum, and some S fimbriatum - but no red sphagna. We met Tom Blockeel and Stephen also searching for Sphagna.. Their total so far is four. 

Lots of easily recognisable Sphagnum squarrosum

We continue to the east end to the sound of distant bagpipes (is there a wedding somewhere?) We explore some wood to the north until pools got too deep. So we retreat, and cross  the tall fen again and return to base our feet getting peaty-wet as we became less fussy about our path in order to get back in time for the tea event.

Many people have to leave before tea, but 12 of us make it to the adjacent  Pike Hills Golf Club where Tea has been arranged. 

Don Grant showed us some male Monkey Puzzle flowers he had just obtained (nothing to do with Askham Bog- but interesting none the less)

Don Grant show us some Rubus plicatus from the bog. He says most paces where it has been recorded in the UK is on bogs - e.g. Lawkland and Austwick Moss. near Settle.  The shoots grow vertically like raspberry canes.

Charlie Fletcher sent a message on Sunday evening:  "Hi everyone
I’ve been chained to the computer all weekend and enclosed are the results. The bad news is that we failed to break High Batts NR’s all time Yorkshire record of 236 species on one night, but we did manage 223 which is pretty amazing. The good news is that there were 18 new species for the reserve. 12 of these were new for the 10K square so in a way were unexpected additions to the list. I’m very pleased with the haul and several species were new for me. Spatalistis bifasciana is, as we thought, new for VC64, and there were many other goodies."


A huge thank you to Ken and Sarah White for organising this VC64 event
and to Alastair Fitter who is so knowledgeable and involved with Askham Bog
and to all the other knowledgeable naturalists who came to help collect records.

Wednesday 14 July 2021

Settle Wildflowers - Day 118 - St John's Methodist Church surrounding tarmac yards - 28 wild plants in flower

(Go to more flowers of Settle Lockdown)
"The Preacher" -
The church's
to Settle
Flower Pot Festival

St John's Church - Settle Methodist Church -  surrounded 

by tarmac and small flower bed, and hedge between the church and next house -

does not look very promising for wildflowers.

However In October 2020 I recorded 12 species in flower  - Settle Wildflowers - Day 92 -

Herb Robert and Greater Bindweed
next to the planted Rose in the flower bed

Today 13 July in the afternoon sun I have a look round.  

I find 28 species in flower and name three more not in flower.

Not bad!

First, Mary the neighbour who looks after the borders at the entrance so well, shows me a green shield bug she has found that flew in through her open window.

This in fact is the Common Green Shield Bug, Palomena prasina, about 1 cm long

You can see it has two big compound eyes, then more centrally two simply eyes.

1. I visit the church flower bed (See Mary's car in background)

This Pendulous Sedge (Carex pendula)  is a wild species, though probably planted here initially 

In the flowerbed, Greater Bindweed grows amongst the planted buddleia

Creeping Buttercup

Petty Spurge - Euphorbia peplus - a tiny garden weed beside the flower bed

2. Next the hedge between the Church and the bungalow to the south

Wall Lettuce - Mycelis muralis

Wall Lettuce
Wood Aven or Herb Bennet
Wood Aven fruit

Shining Crane's-bill Geranium lucidum
Shining Crane's-bill

Goose-grass - aka Cleavers - aka Sticky Willy -
Cruciatum laevipes

3. In the yard

Procumbent Pearlwort - Sagina nodosa 

The Marmalade Hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus
on White Stonecrop - Sedum album.

Records indicate that it may be the commonest and most widespread hoverfly in Britain.

Foxglove Digitalis purpurea

Foxglove at the foot of the cross

4.In the gravel strip between the worship room and the wall of the neighbours to the south

One of five species of willow herb - this one is potentially  Hairy Willowherb

Dandelion head


Ragwort close-up

Go to more flowers of Settle Lockdown

Species found on the church grounds:- Mostly in July 2021.

Note this number has probably been reduced by a third in 2023 as the tarmac area around the shed and the gravel area between the church and the neighbours wall have been converted into the ecogarden and we had a drought in August 2022

Annual Meadow-grass
Yorkshire Fog (grass)
Pendulous Sedge

Petty Spurge

Great Bindweed

Wood Aven (Herb Bennet)


Welsh Poppy

Green Alkanet



White Stonecrop

Herb Robert
Shining Cranesbill

Soft Sow Thistle
Wall Lettuce


Creeping Buttercup

Rosebay Willowherb
Broadleaved Willowherb
New Zealand Willowherb
Great Willowherb (Codlins and Cream) upper leaves opposite
Hoary Willowherb - upper leaves alternate
A.n. other Willowherb


Nettle - not in flower
Buddleia -  not in flower growing as wild

Strawberry -  not in flower
Ivy -  Not in flower


And for the record, just round the corner at the corner of the Manse, the Aethusa cynapium is growing and just coming out into flower.