Friday 19 July 2024

"Let's Talk Farming" event at St John's, Settle on Sunday 29 Sept 2024

Advance notice of 

 "Let's Talk Farming" event at St John's Methodist Church, Settle, BD24 9JH
 on Sunday 29 September 2024

1 pm- 5 pm. (or maybe 1.30-5pm) - first half hour: Tea coffee and chat.

We hope this will both be an opportunity 

1) for local farmers to meet

2) For Non-farmers who live in the Settle area (which is maybe 99% of the population) and Visitors an opportunity to learn more about farming and ask questions.


1.Introductory Talk/Chair: John Dawson - "Peasant Farmer"   of Newby, Clapham

(Well known to many local people)

Followed by sessions:

2. NFU secretary - on  Farmers welfare and on Agricultural Crime

3. Young Farmers event

4. Talk from a supermarket buyer (or similar) who deals with farmers (still being arranged)

We do hope you can come.


Donations Welcome

Thursday 18 July 2024

Eco-Explorers visit to Ribble next to Settle Football Club on Wed 17 July 2024

Pictures to be added later 

Three families, shortly to be joined by a fourth, and Judith (that's me) met at St John's Church at 4pm. F (aged 4) parked her bike and attached it to the bike stand.  Good use of our new bike stands!.

Once through the gate to the Football Field area I led the group to a clump of yellow flowers: Perforate St John's Wort. I encouraged the six parents to use hand lenses to look at the translucent spots in the leaves of this plant. The hand lenses have bright red lanyards and have been lent to me (on permanent loan)  by the British Lichen Society. I gave each family a list of the thirty flowers I had previously found at this site, arranged by colour and a coloured felt pen and asked each family to look for flowers of a specific colour - white, yellow, blue and  (green and red) . They immediately started noticing ones I had missed off the list - e.g ragwort.  .. Meanwhile the younger children seemed more interested in sculpting the remains of a pile of fresh sand that we were standing on.

We walked along the track. We found the Hairy Sedge. "Sedges have edges" - triangular stems - and only two have hairs on the leaves. Hairy Sedge is quite aggressive.. forcing its way up through the tarmac.

We came to the patch of Rest Harrow I had seen a fortnight ago, then only in leaf. A very few pink flowers were now showing. The leaves have a lovely smell of guava (a fruit)

We left the main track and followed a narrow path - narrow because - by July - the surrounding vegetation was growing tall, taller than the younger children.  The patch cut through to a shingle beach beside the river.  Here we made base camp - and the children tried skimming stones. 

The shingle here must get moved every time the river floods (the river can occasionally rise  over 2 metres so as to cover the football field) - so I was not too concerned about wildlife destruction.

Each family continued to look for their flower colour; I invited the oldest boy to hop across a wet area to a shingle bank to collect a small piece of Monkey Flower and Water Forget-me-not on behalf of the rest of us.

We discovered a big piece of shingle which was full of a colonial coral - which showed up well because it was wet.

In the water some cobbles had leeches on them.

We stuck flowers onto sheets of white card with sticky back plastic. We shared some chocolate biscuits including gluten free ones. I collected in several of the white cards so I could put them on the wall in the large meeting room or hall at church. Then it was time for home.


Late that evening I started to tidy up .. and realised I only had three hand lenses and not the box with the other seven. I searched and searched.

Oh No! I may have left it at the river.

So early next morning I got up, and by 6.20am I was parking at the Swimming pool ready to retrace our steps. The sun was shining - and the sun high enough to shine over the high hills above Settle. (This was the first day of high pressure for many weeks/months) 

I went thought the gate and there - next to the Perforate St John's Wort was my box of Hand-lenses.


Thank you!

Nobody had taken them last night.

I took a few photos in the lovely early morning sunlight .. until the clouds came.

I walked along the track again and made a much more thorough list of plants .. So far I have got the total to 47!  Including Water Figwort. Lesser Burdock, Tall Fescue.

Back on the road to the swimming pool I saw a pale creamy yellow lichen I had not noticed before - 

Wonder what it is... 

Monday 15 July 2024

Flowers of Giggleswick Station 2024 - 13 July

 Giggleswick Railway Station was a rich source of flowers in 2020.

I revisited it earlier this year at the end of May (when I recorded Vicia sativa (Common Vetch) and Wild Strawberry that were in flower then but not now.

On this visit (12th and ) 13th July  I found 54 plants in flower.

Plants that I found in September  2020 but not this time are: Blue Fleabane and Swinecress.

Plants that I found long ago - maybe 30 years ago and have not found since: Catapodium rigidum (Fern grass) and Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis)

Ones that I think I had not noted here before are:

Hop Trefoil - Trifolium campestre

Smooth Hawksbeard - Crepis capillaris (I found this at Preston under Scar last week - and in 2020 found it beside Settle Coop, but this is the first place I have found it for Settle this year)

Northern Dock (Rumex longifolius)

Rumex longifolius Northern Dock


Epilobium parviflorum.

Epilobium parviflorum.

Maybe one day soon I will write the complete list here.

A big railway lifting vehicle was just leaving on 12th. It had disturbed some land, and put some big railway sleepers and rails, most of it on some long vegetation and had scuffed up and exposed some soil.  This disturbance is useful as otherwise grass and eventually brambles would take over the whole area.

I will label the plants below another day.

Barbula unguiculata

Train trip to Liverpool from Giggleswick Station

 I needed to get my passport renewed quickly to go on holiday - and discovered - (for a larger fee than the standard one) it is possible to get it done - by travelling (for us in Settle) to either Durham or Liverpool or Glasgow. So two days after entering my passport details online found me on a day trip from Giggleswick to Liverpool to collect it.

This trip to Liverpool counts as part of my holiday.

I could write nine stories about this trip:-

1. Wildflowers of Giggleswick Railway Station

2. Wildflowers of the Giggleswick to Lancaster to Liverpool Line

3. Lichens and Wildflowers of the pavements at Albert Dock and the Mersey coast

4. The peace of Liverpool and the Mersey coast at 8-9.30am of a Saturday morning (especially compared to the crowds from 11am onwards)

5. The International Slavery Museum:-

5a - African cultures

5b - Achievements of different African Individuals and individuals of African Descent (well we are all of African descent - that is where humans started) 

5c Power and financial imbalances hindering development in different regions today

6. The Maritime museum, the Titanic, the Lutisiana and other maritime history

7. Famous buildings and people of Liverpool as seen from an open top bus (in the drizzle) with a lively local guide.

7a. He pointed out that Liverpool had been a World Heritage site but was no longer one. I looked this up : listed in 2006; Delisted in 2021 - He said lots of buildings of heritage value had been destroyed when they did up the docks etc.

8. The people are friendly and have and accent slightly reminiscent of the Birmingham Accent (and maybe a slightly northern accent too that I can't hear because I have one myself) . The last time I visited Liverpool was on a day trip almost 50 years ago and I remembered the local people being friendly and helpful then, and this visit continued to give me that impression.

9: The Sunday Café Service at Allhallowgate two days after- (with the day we didn't win the Eurocup in between)


Flowers of the Giggleswick to Liverpool Line:

At Carnforth and at Lancaster I saw lots of Evening Primrose: Oenothera biennis  - Tall spikes with lemon yellow trumpet shaped flowers with five lobes - And one plant at Bentham Station.

I remember finding this at Giggleswick Station maybe 40 years ago.. And looking for it ever since but not finding it. Carnforth had a few spikes of Verbascum too, And lots of Buddleia .

Lancaster had plenty of Vulpia bromoides bromoides Squirreltail Fescue., and I found it in the streets of Liverpool.

Evening Primrose from the Train window at
Carnforth (the Leeds to Lancaster train had clean windows - unlike the one from Lancaster to Liverpool

Evening Primrose at Lancaster

Vulpia bromoides

Evening Primrose at Bentham.
These looked so fine I wondered if they had been planted

Monday 8 July 2024

Snails at Preston under Scar - and flowers, mosses, and lichens

 On Sat 6 July the Yorkshire Naturalists' Union held their VC65 Field Meeting at Preston under Scar: 

The weather, though breezy and not warm came out sunny in the afternoon - much better than the forecast, even warm enough in sheltered places to tempt a few butterflies. The rock is limestone ("acid limestone" - much less basic than in other places near Settle)

We visited the disused quarry and later the woodland and wooded over mineral vein workings and "Condenser house". Our base was at 270m above sea level (the river Ure 1.5 miles south is 120m, Preston Moor 2miles away north rises to 400m)

The moths people had emptied their traps and found over 70 species.

This is the quarry - with an amazing covering of Garden Lady' Mantle - Alchemilla mollis.  The rabbits do not like it.
It could do with some vigorous weeding. If it doubles in quantity each year in three years the quarry will be full and overflowing.

We did find three native species (see lower down)

It might have looked good for Bee orchids but we did not find any. In the shade of wooded areas we found a very few Common Spotted orchids.

Snails: Terry O Conner went of looking for snails and came back with several including the 

Pyramidula umbilicata (formerly P rupestris or P pusilla) - rock snail, found under rocks and under stones in stone walls

Pyramidula umbilicata  close up -(formerly P rupestris or P pusilla) - rock snail, found under rocks and under stones in stone walls

The Lapidary snail has  lens-shaped shell with a clearly visible keel. Helicigona lapicida
  found by Derek Whitely

I was pleased to find plenty of Heath snail. (I have found this in the Burren, at Lower Winskill, at the slope high above Stackhouse but I am told it has disappeared though much of Yorkshire except at the Coast.
I was informed today that this is an annual snail - so it must overwinter as eggs.  Also it must grow quickly to get to this size.
We found lots of Heath snail shell one New Year's Day Plant Hunt in 2017 - at the liimestone cliff slope at the top of Bucker Brow, Settle. And indeed David Fisher who was with us in 2017 was here today too!

- I was concerned then that we were just finding dead Heath snails - but now can see why. 
Helicella itala - Heath snail

Helicella itala - Heath snail
this one was sitting on top of Cladonia rangiformis.

Distribution of Heath Snail


Ian, Stella and I wandered round looking at flowers and Ian made a list which he will give to Linda Robinson the Plant recorder for VC65. 

 Stork's-bill - Erodium cicutarium 

We enjoyed finding  Stork's-bill. This does not grow at Settle. It is a southern lowland plant, and this far north I usually only see i near the sea.

We did find Dove's-foot Crane's-bill, Meadow Crane's-bill and Cut-leaved Crane's-bill
Dove's-foot Crane's-bill

Hoverfly on Hogweed

Waxcap - but which one? Did smell a bit of honey but does not look like honey waxcap.

Back to the Alchemillas

Here is a giant A mollis ready to gobble up space over the tiny Alchemilla glaucescens (I think)

Alchemilla glaucescens closer up. It has appressed velvety hairs on the back of its leaves and is small and likes to grow by footpaths (which is was doing)
This one might be Alchemilla xanthochlora

We also found A filicaulis and a possible A glabra.

This is a tiny Limestone Dandelion - I am hoping someone can tell me what species or at least group it is. 

It is a bit like the one I found on a limestone mound on Malham Lings in that there are a few reflexed involucral bracts at the bottom of the involucre - but the Malham yellow ray florets were much narrowerer - and present in May.
Elsewhere Alister and others were finding Good King Henry, Water forget-me-not,  Brooklime, Typha latifolia and various Hypericums.

At the roadside near the main entrance to the quarry (gate firmly locked) was a Crepis  (Hawk's-beard)
We agonised over this for a while, but have decided it is Crepis capillaris  (This is much more common over nearly all of UK. C biennis is rarer and southern)). 
(Note Hieraciums have hairs on some/most parts, and the phyllaries (involucral bracts - green scales round the outside of the flowerhead) are graduated between innermost and outermost.  Crepis are glabrous except for the phyllaries and the phyllaries are in distinct inner and outer rows) 
It would be useful to go back and measure the length of the achenes - 1.4-2.5 in C capillaris,  4-7.5mm in biennis.


I learned from Stella that Nodding Thistle/Musk Thistle Carduus nutans has a strong perfumy smell. Yes. It has!
Later we tried Creeping thistle and that has a smell too.

Ian, Stella and I attempted to find the waterfall that others had talked about. We waded through bracken and long vegetation growing in the newly planted plantation  and looked down on a waterfall not far from the road.  But decided perhaps there was another one that the others had been talking about.

 We enjoyed tea with the others at Preston under Scar Village Hall and discussed out findings.
After tea Ian, Stella and I returned to the site and walked down to the "Condenser House"  workings area. There was Luzula sylvatica and Carex remota (Remote Sedge) and Bromopsis ramosa (Hairy Brome), and a bank of Devil's bit Scabious. It would be good if some trees could be cleared to make more glades in the wood.  I presume all the trees have gown over the last hundred or more years since the working were in operation. 

Carex remota

Lichens and Mosses.

The Lichens were not exceptional. We are quite a long way east so there were no species that need moist woodland. There was rather too much shade in the woodland, to allow may lichens to grow, and I did not see any very old trees..  I found one Peltigera (probably hymenina) on the footpath in the quarry.

Mosses: I did not notice any exceptional mosses.  However here are three pictures of some strong growth of three species. I suspect the wet spring has encouraged them: Rhytidiadelphus triquetrous, 
Flexitrichium gracile (I think)  and Distichium capillacium (I think) - I really need to check them.
Trying to cover too many groups at once!!.
Rhytidiadelphus triquetrous

Birds: We saw two kites circling over head and a peregrine shot past. A chiff chaff serenaded us in the wood.

The Next YNU Field meeting is at Castle Howard in 10-11 August