Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Treeton Dyke & Forgemaster's Tip

Treeton Dyke & Forgemaster's Tip
1st August 2018

Leaders: Louise Hill & Bob Croxton

Louise Hill
John Scott
Bob Croxton
Les Coe
Ken Balkow
Graeme Coles
Jean Glasscock

Andy Godfrey

Peter Burton

This site includes wetlands, grassland and scrub habitats on the naturally-revegetated steelworks tip beside Treeton Dyke. It is anticipated that a good variety of plants will be found, including Broad-leaved Helleborine (Epipactis helleborine) and some rare sedge.

The group assembled at 10am on Washfield Lane, Treeton.

Following a public footpath which passed through agricultural land we quickly found Common Mallow (Malva sylvestris), Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) and Hedgerow Cranesbill (Geranium pyrenaicum).

At the edge of a field of Rye was found Rye Brome (Bromus secalinus). Was it introduced with the sowing of the Rye? A species that was rare but now becoming more widespread.

Rye Brome (Bromus secalinus)
Along the field edge we found Cut-leaved Cranesbill (Geranium dissectum), Rosebay Willowherb (Chamerion angustifolium) and a Hawkweed (Hieracium sp.) which always presents a challenge. So using a key from 'Yorkshire Hawkweeds' (YNU by Vince Jones) carried for just such an occasion; noting basal leaves absent, stem leaves<15, stem-leaves not clasping stem, led to Sabauda section, To progress further with the ID required that a sample be taken away for further examination by Louise.

Continuing along the footpath we had Common Couch (Elytrigia repens), Field Maple (Acer campestre), Pedunculate Oak (Quercus robur) and Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) bearing lots of sloe fruits. The current dry spell has resulted in many plants seeding and dying early. One such dried-up plant was found, a legume, keyed out as Fodder Vetch (Vicia villosa), an annual. Common Vetch (Vicia sativa), also in a dried state came next followed by Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) and Hawkweed Oxtongue (Picris hieracioides), normally to be found on chalk or limestone but also fond of colonising wasteland.

In the corner of the next field, sheltered by the adjacent woodland, we found Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis) and a Fodder Vetch still in flower.

Fodder Vetch (Vicia villosa)
Also in this sheltered corner we found Fat Hen (Chenopodium album), Nipplewort (Lapsana communis), Field Speedwell (Veronica persica) and Bristly Oxtongue (Helminthotheca echioides). Back to the path and continuing to the junction of the lakeside path we passed a large patch of ripe blackberry laden Bramble (Rubus fruiticosus agg.). Andy pointed out the leaf of the Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) having been infested with a Leaf miner.

We now joined the path heading in the direction of Treeton and towards the lake side passing on the way a fruit laden Apple Tree (Malus sp.). In an uncultivated area we found Goatsbeard (Tragopogon pratensis), Black Medic (Medicago lupulina), the common Great Mullein (Verbascum thopsus), Weld (Reseda luteola) and California Poppy (Eschschoizia californica) thriving in this hot dry weather we are experiencing at the moment. Nearing the waters edge we passed Wall Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster horizontalis) and around the ski jetty we had Goat's Rue (Galega officinalis), Gipsywort (Lycopus europaeus), False Fox Sedge (Carex otrubae) and Amphibious Bistort (Persicaria amphibia).

From the water around the jetty two water plants were recovered which proved to be Nutall's Waterweed (Elodea nuttallii) and Canadian Waterweed (E. canadensis)

Returning to the lakeside path, an unusual plant with long slender leaves caused some head scratching, before it was decided that it was a garden throw-away, Pampas Grass (Cataderia selloana). Another plant which resembled a young willow at first glance was Amphibious Bistort (Persicaria amphibia). Next came Spear Thistle (Cirsium vulgare) now displaying their plumed or feather-like pappus carrying the seeds, common to all Cirsium genera, Tall Melilot (Melilotus altissimus), a sedge with triangular tough stem was False Fox Sedge (Carex otrubae) which proved to be common on the site, and Remote Sedge (C. remota), then we had an aromatic Water Mint (Mentha sp.) which was considered to be a hybrid. Red Bartsia (Odontites vernus) and Field Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) completed our tour of the west side of the lake.

Water Mint (Mentha sp.)
Along the path growing behind the metal fence were Field Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) and a large white Bindweed (Calystegia sp.), but as we were unable to reach a sample flower of the later, the ID could not be ascertained. We then reached a small pond on the right of the path which contained a good showing of Fringed Water-lily (Nymphoides peltata).

Fringed Water-lily (Nymphoides peltata)
Also growing in the pond were Bulrush (Typha latifolia) and Ridged Hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum) which grows totally submerged. Back on the path came Ox-eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare), Crack Willow (Salix fragilis), more False Fox Sedge and a rampant Virginia Creeper (Pathenocissus quinquefolia), probably as a result of being accidentally introduced. Next came willowherbs, Hoary Willowherb (Epilobium parviflorum) and Broad-leaved Willowherb (E. montanum) all typically showing stigmas split into four.

Bob now led us off the main path onto a subsidiary path leading us into an area where young Silver Birch (Betula pendula) had become dominant. In addition there were some Downy Birch (B. pubescens) present and Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) laden with red berries. The area gradually opened up with Carnation Sedge (Carex panicea), Broad-leaved Everlasting Pea (Lathyrus latifolius) and Origanum (Origanum vulgare) showing.

The habitat now became more like heathland; an acidic site as a result of it having been contaminated due to the waste products from steelworks being dumped here over a considerable time, hence it's title as 'Forgemaster's tip'. Some parts have been covered over with a layer of sandy soil, but the area we were now in had not, and was a rabbit grazed grassland.

We continued with Sheep's Fescue (Festuca ovina agg.), Perforate St John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum). Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata), Gorse (Ulex europaeus) now without any flowers, Birdsfoot Trefoil (Lotus pedunculatus) and a summer flowering Michaelmas Daisy which may be (Aster novi-belgii) but due to similarity with (A. x salignus) awaiting confirmation.

Confused Michaelmas Daisy (Aster novi-belgii)
Back into a wooded area once more where the old seed heads of both Common Spotted Orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii) and Southern Orchid (D. praetermissa) were present. Another Hawkweed (Hieracium sp.) having its flower heads full of Thrips or Thunder Flies and Pollen Beetles and a Mouse-ear Hawkweed (Pilosella officinarum). Then Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris), Buddleja (Buddleja americana) and a strong smelling Water Mint (Mentha aquatica) after a Corn Mint ID was rejected. Next we had Gipsywort (Lycopus europaeus) which might be confused with a nettle when young.

Gipsywort (Lycopus europaeus)

Hoary Willowherb (Epilobium parviflorum), and Skullcap (Scutellaria galericulata) followed when a Brown Argus (Aricia agestis) was spotted by Andy as it flitted about a large patch of Birdsfoot Trefoil.

Brown Argus (Aricia agestis)
We now approached the waters edge finding Bulrush (Typha latifolia) and Bristle Clubrush (Isolepis setacea). Back to the heathland habitat where Andy pointed out Black Lipped Snail shells. Next we found Bush-grass also known as Wood Small-reed (Calamagrostis epigejos), Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) followed by a Goldenrod, but where we were expecting the more common Canadian Goldenrod, we found instead Early Goldenrod (Solidago gigantea).

Early Goldenrod (Solidago gigantea)
Next we found a wild Pear Tree full of young fruit and Thyme-leaved Sandwort (Arenaria serpyllifolia) which had dried up in the heat but an ID was achieved from the seed. Here the grass had been burnt, accidentally or otherwise, and is the only means of scrub control being carried out. Now lunch was taken after which Louise studied a Hawkweed (Hieracium sp.) sample collected earlier in the walk. The key led to it being in the Tridentata section, so the sample was taken home for further study. Another study undertaken was on a Horsetail (Equisetaceae) collected next to a pond; this was concluded to be a hybrid between Water Horsetail (Equisetum fluviatile) and Field Horsetail (E. arvenses).

We now reached the lakeside where Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum) was present. Some dredging of the water had occurred previously leaving muscle shells behind, which were considered to be Zebra Muscles. Continuing we found the large leaves of Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara), Yellow Iris (Iris pseudacorus), and collected from the water was a plant we considered to be Horned Pondweed (Zannichellia palustris), but not being certain a sample was taken away for further examination. We also noted at the lakeside Reed Canary-grass (Phalaris arundinacea), Michaelmas Daisy (Aster sp.). In a ditch at the side of the path we found Common Duckweed (Lemna minor), and spotted an metallic green Emerald Damselfly (Lestes sponsa), notable as the only damselfly to have wings half spread open at rest. From the ditch another Hawkweed (Hieracium sp.) was collected this one having a distinct basal rosette and one stem leaf. At the side of the broad path in an area of little vegetation, was found lots of Haresfoot Clover (Trifolium arvense) in full flower.

Haresfoot Clover (Trifolium arvense)
Now we wanted to check upon an earlier finding of a rare sedge for which we had a GPS reading. The sedge was duly found and confirmed to be Distant Sedge (Carex distans) with Remote Sedge (C. remota) also in the same area. Nearby we found Jointed Rush.

Our next objective was to re-find the Broad-leaved Helleborine (Epipactis helleborine) noted on a previous visit. Following the GPS reference we search in vain, but to our surprise we discovered a patch of some 16 stems of Yellow Bird's-nest (Hypopitys monotropa) which was a new record for the site.

Bird's-nest (Hypopitys monotropa)

It should be noted that the above records are not the total species recorded for the site on this survey, that is held by Louise.

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Isle of Skye Quarry

Isle of Skye Quarry - Sunday 22 July 2018

Leaders : Peter Burton & Louise Hill
Louise Hill
Peter Burton
John Scott
Les Coe

Tim Kohler - Natural England
Jim Burnett - Doncaster Nats

Apologise : Kate McDowell

This was to be a follow-up survey of the Quarry to the one conducted in the spring of this year.
The party assembled at the car park at Digley Reservoir for 10.30am

Isle of Skye Quarry
At the entrance to the quarry the alarm calls of the Curlew that had greeted our arrival in spring was absent this time. Before climbing the small wall marking the entrance, we found the tiny white flowered Blinks (Montia fontana) hiding amongst the vegetation.

The path leading into the quarry had a trickle of running water and alongside the path were Oval Sedge (Carex leporina), Timothy (Phleum pratense), and Bog Stitchwort (Stellaria alsine).

Within the quarry we found Bell Heather (Erica cinerea), Great Willowherb (Epilobium parviflorum) and New Zealand Willowherb (E. brunnescens), Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) and Zigzag Clover (T. medium), Common Bent (Agrostis stolonifera) and Red Fescue (Festuca rubra), Lesser Trefoil (Trifolium dubium) and Birdsfoot Trefoil (Lotus coniculatus), Catsear (Hypochaeris radicata), Mouse-ear Hawkweed (Pilosella aurantiaca) and Crowberry (Empetrum nigrum).

On the ground above a lake we noted Scaly Male Fern (Dryopteris affinis agg), Common Sedge,(Carex nigra) and Pill Sedge (C. pilulifera), an occasional late flowering Common Centaury (Centaurium littorale), Tormentil (Potentilla erecta), Common Figwort (Scrophularia nodosa), Ox-eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare), Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor), Black Medic (Medicago lupulina) and Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris).

Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris)
At the spring survey we had avoided intruding upon nesting birds around the small lakes, this time we found in the first lake Broad-leaved Pondweed (Potamogeton natans) and Bog Pondweed (P. polygonifolius) whilst Bottle Sedge (Carex rostrata) grew in the margins.

Bottle Sedge (Carex rostrata)
Field Horsetail (Equisetum arvense), Heath Woodrush (Luzula multiflora), Lesser Spearwort (Ranunculus flammula), Celery-leaved Buttercup (R. sceleratus), Thyme-leaved Speedwell (Veronica serpyllifolia), Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla sp.), Yellow Sedge (Carex viridula), Toad Rush (Juncus bufonius agg), Bulbous Rush (J. bulbosus), Jointed Rush (J. articulatus) and Marsh Foxtail (Alopecurus geniculatus) were found between the two lakes.

Marsh Foxtail (Alopecurus geniculatus)
A second small lake was dominated by Bulrush (Typha latifolia). Around here we found Water

Bulrush (Typha latifolia)
Horsetail (Equisetum fluviatile) and Marsh Horsetail (E. palustre), Hemp Agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum), Scentless Mayweed(Tripeurospermum inodorum) , Hoary Willowherb (Epilobium parviflorum), Hedge Woundwort (Stachys sylvatica), Bush Vetch (Vicia sepium) and Common Vetch (V. sativa), Greater Stitchwort (Stellaria holostea), Tufted Hair-grass (Deschampsia cespitosa) and growing in a rock crevice was Maidenhair Spleenwort (Asplenium trichomanes).

Maidenhair Spleenwort (Asplenium trichomanes)
We then returned to the Digley car park were it was decided in the time remaining to survey around the reservoir.

Following the public footpath with agricultural land to the left and wooded slopes above the reservoir to the right and with dry stone walls providing a boundary, we noted Common Cow-wheat (Melampyrum pratense). A diversion away from the footpath, we climbed through a small ravine made by a feeder stream. In here was found Marsh Willowherb (Epilobium palustre), Lady Fern (Athyrium filixz-femina), Hard Fern (Blechnum spicant) and Wavy Bittercress (Cardamine flexosa). Reaching the top of this ravine we then descended through a sheep field noting Silver Hair-grass (Aira caryophyllera) and Early Hair-grass (A. praecox), Prickly Sow-thistle (Lactuca serriola), Crested Dogstail (Cynosurus cristatus).

Following a small stream
Returning to the well trodden footpath which led to the dam wall of the upper Bilberry Reservoir, being a mid-point between the two reservoirs which providing an access to the opposite side of the lower but much larger Digley Reservoir.

Digley Reservoir
On this wooded side of the reservoir where several small feeder streams entered the reservoir we found Common Hemp-nettle (Galeopsis tetrahit), Greater Plantain (Plantago major), Marsh Yellow-cress (Rorippa palustris), a Water Starwort (Callitriche sp.), Water-pepper (Persicaria hydropiper), Creeping Cinquefoil (Potentilla reptans), Marsh Cudweed (Gnaphalium uliginosum), Wood Sage (Teucrium scorodonia) and Marsh Bedstraw (Galium palustre).

Marsh Bedstraw (Galium palustre)

Monday, 16 July 2018

Firsby Reservoir & Ravenfield Park

Firsby Reservoir and Ravenfield Park
Sunday, 15th July 2018

This was a joint meeting with Doncaster Naturalists' Society.
Meeting at 10 am on Garden Lane, Ravenfield, by the footpath leading to Firsby Reservoir

Leader : Louise Hill

Louise Hill
John Scott
Les Coe
Peter Burton
Ken Balkow
Jim Burnet

Firsby Reservoir is a Local Nature Reserve, owned and managed by Rotherham Borough Council. It is actually two connected reservoirs, one significantly larger than the other, being fed by Firsby Brook. In 2012 the water level in the reservoir was lowered, and the site has developed naturally over the summer of 2013 and the new shoreline areas have been colonised by vegetation. It is anticipated that in the long term there will be created a new ecological mosaic of habitats that will support a good range of bird species and other wildlife.

The party started at the smaller of the two reservoirs, having been welcomed by the eerie call of a Heron disturbed by our presence. Footpaths that had been wet and muddy in March were now found to be very dry following a long period of dry weather but had now become overgrown in places.

We noted that willowherbs, thistles and willow scrub now dominated the revegetation of what had been the old reservoir beds, with this small reservoir now looking little more than a pond.

A Hypericum plant was examined and keyed out as Imperforate St John’s Wort (Hypericum maculatum), whilst a yellow flower of the Hawkish Complex, a species notoriously difficult to ID, was examined by Louise, noting the features on site but taking a sample for further analysis at home. See the end of this survey for her comments.

Dock plants, now being in seed, were able to be identified by examining the fruits; we found Wood Dock (Rumex sanguineus), the fruits having untoothed tepal and one rounded wart, and Broad-leaved Dock (Rumex obtusifolius) with the fruits having toothed tepal and one rounded wart.

Greater Plantain (Plantago major) was very common whilst only a few Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolate) were noted, whilst Hoary Plantain (Plantago media), being a lime lover, was absent. A Meadow Buttercup (Ranunculus acris) was still in flower along with Devilsbit Scabious (Succisa pratensis) and Betony (Betonica officinalis).

The large leaves of both Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) and Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium) dominated in places, with Meadow Sweet (Filipendula ulmaria) also being well established. In the hedgerow a Comfrey (Symphytum sp.), white flowered Yarrow (Archillea millefolium), yellow flowered Crosswort (Cruciata laevipes) and white flowered Large Bindweed (Calystegia sylvatica) twining anticlockwise through the branches, provided a splash of colour against the green leaves. Lower down was Black Medic (Medicargo lupulina) and the late flowering Tufted Vetch (Vicia cracca) presenting its blue flower spikes above the surrounding vegetation.

Greater Stitchwort (Stellaria holostea) and Lesser Stitchwort (S. graminea) were noted along with Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum), Spear Thistle (Cirsium arvense), Common Broom (Cytisus scoparius), Ox-eye Daisy (Leucanthemim vulgare), Bush Vetch (Vicia sepium), Nipplewort (Lapsana communis), Wood Sage (Teucrium scorodonia), and the dead stems loaded with seeds of Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scriptus).

Rosebay Willowherb (Chamerion angustifolium), Great Willowherb (Epilobium hirsutum) and American Willowherb (E. ciliatum) contributed to the dense vegetation along with Teasle (Dipsacus fullorum), Cow Parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris), Cleavers (Galium aparine), Bittersweet (Solanum dulcamara) and Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum) which was not yet dominating.

By the edge of the reservoir was found Water Mint (Mentha aquatica), Celery-leaved Buttercup (Ranunculus sceleratus), and Common Reed (Phagmites australis).

The whole area had been dominated by Ash (Fraxinus excelsior), Alder (Alnus glutinosa), native Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea) and Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) with grasses noted being Cocksfoot (Dactylis glomerate), Giant Fescue (Schedonorus arundinacea), and Tufted Hair Grass (Deschampsia cespitisa).

At the Spillway between the two reservoirs we noted Creeping Sainfoin (Onobrychis vicifolia), Male Fern (Dryopteris filix-mas) and Field Horsetail (Equisetum arvense). Around the larger reservoir were Hard Rush (Juncus inflexus), Soft Rush (J. effuses) and Compact Rush (J. conglomeratus), Water Forgetmenot (Myosotis scorpiodes), with White Water Lily (Nymphaea alba) in the water.

Tufted Vetch (Vicia cracca), Bitter Vetchling (Lathyrus linifolius), amongst the Creeping Bent (Agrostis stolonifera), Rough Meadow-grass (Poa Trivialis), Common Couch Grass (Elytrigia repens). Alder (Alnus glutinosa) trees having been infested by the Alder Beetle had their leaves reduced to the skeleton veins.

Proceeding around the reservoir we noted Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina) growing under the boardwalk, Broad Buckler Fern (Dryopteris dilatate), Sweet Vernal Grass (Anthoxanthum odoratum), Timothy (Phleum pratense), Meadow Foxtails (Alopecurus pratensis), False Oat Grass (Arrhenatherum elatius), Marsh Thistle (Cirsium palustre), Common Hemp Nettles (Galeopsis tetrahit), Hedge Parsley (Torilis japonica), Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis) with Homey Suckle (Lonicera periclymenum) growing amongst Field Maple (Acer campestre).

A deviation from the path to the water’s edge found Amphibious Bistort (Persicaria amphibia) growing.

A closer look was made to some Zigzag Clover  (Trifolium medium) which bore general resemblance to the species but raised some doubts as to it being a true species as it was so variable in detail.

And finally, an Apple Tree (Malus sp.) full of fruit which was probable growing in what would be the grounds of Firsby Hall Farm concluded our walk around Firsby Reservoir, ending at 12 noon. Lunch was then taken in the shade of trees before moving on to our afternoons destination.

Ravenfield Park

Originally part of the Ravenfield Hall Estate but now managed by the Ravenfield Ponds Angling Club, with the new woodland being managed by Forestry Commission. Public access is permitted along concessionary footpaths through the woodland, whilst the ponds are for the use of the angling club only. Over the years the Angling Club has spent a lot of time effort and angler’s money ‘restoring the Park to its former glory’ and promoting its use by wildlife, and this was recognised by an award from the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE).

Permission was sort and granted for this botanical survey and the use of the angler’s car park.

Now, having entered in a new Tetrad square (SK9895), our recording started afresh. Leaving the car park the concessionary path descends the hillside with Bracken (Pteridinum aquilinum) and Bramble (Rubus fruticosus agg.) dominating the slopes under the Silver Birch (Betula pendula). During our walk around the fishing ponds we did encounter several other tree species, including Beech (Fagus sylvatica), Rowen (Sorbus aucuparia), Wild Cherry (Prunus avium), Wild Plum (Prunus domestica), Osier (Salix viminalis), Crab Apple (Malus sylvestris) and Sweet Chestnut (Castanea sativa).

As would be expected in any woodland, we found the now seed loaded stems of Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scriptus), along with the common Herb Bennet (Geum urbanum) and the unrelated Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum). Continuing downward we recorded Nipplewort (Lapsana communis) and several grass species including Creeping Soft-grass (Holcus mollis) and Yorkshire Fog (H. lanatus), Common Bent (Agrostis capillaris), Cocksfoot (Dactylis glomerata), Rosebay Willowherb (Chamerion angustifolium), Hoary Willowherb (Epilobium parviflorum), Broad-leaved Willowherb (E. montanum), American Willowherb (E. ciliatum), Great Willowherb (E. hirsutum), Broad-leaved Dock (Rumex obtusifolius) and Wood Dock (R. sanguineus), Lesser Burdock (Actium minus), Large Plantain (Plantago major), Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) and Comfrey (Symphytum sp.).

At the bottom of the slope was a small pond formed from a spring or flush which had white flowered Water-cress (Nasturtium officinale) growing in it, with Hemp Agrimony (Eupatorium cannobinum) on its bank. Also in this vicinity and along the next path were Hedge Woundwort, Purple Loosestrife, Soft Rush and Hard Rush, Meadowsweet, Clustered Dock, Yorkshire Fog (Holcus lanatus), Hogwood, Coltsfoot, Lesser Burdock and Ragwort

An Evening Primrose was examined and on finding green sepals and red based hairs it was identified as Small-flowered Evening Primrose (Oenothera cambrica). Water Mint (Mentha aquatica) was found and here John pointed out a short-cut towards an identification in that only this species has a terminal flower at the end of the stem.

Along the path that now skirted the fishing ponds were noted Hairy Sedge (Carex hirta), Creeping Bent (Agrostis stolonifera), Perennial Ryegrass (Lolium perenne), Wood Millet (Milium effusum), Wood Sedge (Carex sylvatica), Remote Sedge (C. remota), Field Horsetail (Equisetum arvense), Nipplewort (Lapsana communis), Hedge Mustard (Sisymbrium officinale), Angelica (Angelica sylvestris), Ramsons (Allium ursinum), Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon), Male Fern (Dryopteris filix-mas), Hartstongue Fern (Asplenium scolopendrium), Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina), and Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum)

John spotted a resting Large Emerald Moth on Cleavers.

As the path now crossed between two of the fishing ponds and over the Horton Brook, we had a chance to examine the surrounds for more aquatic species. Branched Bur-reed (Sparganium erectum), Water Plantain (Alisma plantago-aquatica), Curled Pondweed (Potamogeton crispus), Meadow Sweet (Filipendula ulmaria), Great Willowherb (Epilobium hirsutum), Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata), Mudwort (Limosella aquatica), Yellow Water-lily (Nuphar lutea), White Water-lily (N. alba), Lesser Bulrush (Typha angustifolia), Broad Buckler Fern (Dryopteris dilatata), Hairy Sedge (Carex hirta), Field Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis).

Going back to the Hawkweeds found at Firsby Reservoir, here are Louise's comments regarding the identification.

Despite my comments on the day - I don't think that the basal leaves were present - it's always hard to determine whether it is just a lower stem leaf or a rosette leaf. I think the rosette leaves really have to be really flat against the ground.

Working through Vince Jones' Hieracium key (Yorkshire Hawkweeds - published by the YNU):
There were more than 8 stem leaves and the mid-stem leaves were not clasping.
Stem leaves were around 15 in number (not many more) and the plant was starting to flower in mid July - which takes us to Section Tridentata.

Once in this section - the next step in the key is to look at the receptacle pits - this involves carefully detaching the petals and young fruits to reveal the surface of the flower disc. The base of the fruits nestle in a pit, the edges of which look a bit like the waxed paper cases around a cup-cake. The 'paper case' has distinct teeth along the margin.

I inspected a specimen of the flower at home and found that the teeth on the pit margins had stiff hairs on the tips of each tooth - what's know as as fimbriate - dentate. (see photo below).

This takes you straight to Hieraceium eboracense

Hawkweed (Hieraceium aboracense)

Put this on the blog and see if anyone agrees with my diagnosis!

The other features that I recorded were not needed in the key. (By the way, I was trying to remember the main features needed in the key in Stace and Vince's key. The Collin's guide just says 'Hawkweed' and goes no further).

I too was rather surprised by the milky sap but it's not the first time I've seen this when detaching a leaf from hawkweeds.

The other very leafy hawkweeds that we saw at Firsby keyed out as Hieracium section sabauda - probably H. sabaudum f sabaudum but it all depends on how many glandular hairs are considered to be 'numerous' or not.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Norwood, Woodall Survey

Norwood, Woodall (SK47 81)
Sunday 24th June 2018
Leader: Louise Hill

This was a joint meeting between the South Yorkshire Botany Group and Doncaster Naturalists’ Society

Louise Hill
John Scott
Peter Burton
Graeme Coles
Les Coe

Ken Balkow
Marion Dutton

The group assembled at Kiveton Pit Country Park car park at 10am. It was then decided that it would be advantages to start from a footpath leading to Norwood from the road in Woodall where it passes under the M1 motorway. (Unfortunate for any late comers who found that there were no members at Kiveton Pit Country Park, as advertised). This starting point falls within SK47 80.

The purpose of this meeting was to survey the under-recorded woodland of Norwood, near Woodall which lies on the Coal Measures, as this area will be affected by the construction of HS2 in a few years’ time. The Wood is contained for the most part within SK47 81

In the North East corner of the wood the Chesterfield canal emerges from the now closed Norwood Tunnel, thereafter following the Northern woodland boundary, creating a series of ponds along the way. The Western boundary of the wood is also the county boundary between South Yorkshire and Derbyshire.

The South Yorkshire Plant Atlas suggests for this woodland, which can best be described as a mixed broadleaf, bluebell woodland (W10), “In Woodland of this kind, the underlying rocks and sticky soils they give rise to, can sometimes be so impermeable that ground water emerges in flushes or gentle springs”.

Louise added for the woodlands characteristic, with “It was a W10 woodland which has been invaded by quite a lot of sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) but there were also lime influences on the upper slopes where we found the dog's mercury (Mercurialis perennis) and yellow archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon).

The main canopy species in the flushes was grey willow (Salix cinerea) but with some alder (Alnus glutinosa), silver birch (Betula pendula) and occasional ash (Fraxinus excelsior).  These species did not occur in any significant numbers on the upper slopes.

The wooded seepages supported soft rush (Juncus effusus) and colt's foot (Tusssilago farfara) and locally-abundant water horsetail (Equisetum fluviatile) and a mint (Mentha sp). This graded into a more open fen type habitat on the valley bottom dominated by reed canary- grass (Phalaris arundincea) with bittersweet (Solanum dulcamara), marsh bedstraw (Galium palustre) and greater bird's-foot trefoil (Lotus pedunculatus)”.

Woodall Pond

Timing is all; as the first field through which the footpath passes had a grass cutter hard at work when we returned to the parked cars on completion of the days tour. In this field we had earlier found the late flowering Timothy (Phleum pratense) standing high above surrounding vegetation, the common Crested Dogstail (Cynosurus criostatus), Marsh Foxtail (Alopecurus geniculatus), Common Bent (Agrostis capillaris), the small yellow flowered Nipplewort (Lapsana communis), the even smaller white flowered Hairy Tare (Vicia hirsuta) scrambling amongst the grass, and Birdsfoot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), being a typical component in agricultural grassland. Another typical grassland species, Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor) now showing the fruit from whence it acquired its name, the common Creeping Thistle (Cirsium arvense), and less common Toad Rush (Juncus bufonius .agg) which can appear reddish at times, completed the survey of the first field before passing over the style into the next field.

Here was found Zig Zag Clover (Trifolium medium), Meadow Buttercup (Ranunculus acris), the common Spear Thistle (Cirsium vulgare), Curled Dock (Rumex crispus), the early flowering and now faded Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata), and Scentled Mayweed (Matricaria chamomilla) distinguishable by the hollow flower heads. Some disturbed ground revealed not only the Common or Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica), but a far less common Small Nettle (Urtica urens), which, unlike its larger cousin, bears male and female flowers on the same plant and has much less of a sting. Also found here was Pale Persicaria (Persicaria lapathifolia) which does like the disturbed ground.

Small Nettle (Urtica urens)
We continued with the more common Knotgrass (Polygonum aviculare), then Shepherds Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris), Daisy (Bellis Perennis), Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale agg.), and Prickly Sow Thistles (Sonchus asper) with leaves that wrap around the stem. A tall fescue previously going by the name of Giant Fescue (Festuca gigantea) but now named (Schedonorus giganteus) was also examined to confirm the ID. Under trees, we found the shade loving Wood Dock (Rumex sanguineus), which bears a fruit with only a single wart. Cow Parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris), now past its best shared a damp spot with Short-fruited Willowherb (Epilobium obscurum).

The public footpath entered the woodland at the top of a steep bank and continued to follow on this higher contour, while below a small stream runs through the valley bottom. Initially, the more adventurous member (better known as John) descended the bank and found the flora was much more interesting in the wetter ground. As communications became difficult, he persuaded all the party to joined him. In the valley bottom we found a faint animal track, possibly created by deer and/or badgers suggesting that these animals had the quite woodland to themselves for most of the year. As we worked our way down the valley towards the lake, several flushes created by seepage from the land above were encountered, causing the ground to become boggy in places. Occasionally it was necessary to resort to using the botanist’s toolkit of secateurs and branch-saw to clear a way through the tangled branches of fallen trees.

In this valley mire environment, we found Male Fern (Dryopteris filix-mas), Broad Buckler fern (D. dilatata), Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina), Harts Tongue Fern (Asplenium scolopendrium), the ubiquitous Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum), all enjoying the wet and shaded conditions, as did also Wood Dock (Rumex sanguineus) and Wood Millet (Milium effusum). The Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scriptus), long ago ceased flowering, now only had seed capsules, while Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage (Chrysosplenium oppositifolium), also a spring flowering plant, had just leaves remaining. Likewise, the Townhall Clock, otherwise known as Moschatel (Adoxa moschatellina), had remaining leaves that had a rubbery texture to the touch. The Early Dog Violet (Viola reichenbachiana) had only leaves and fruits but could still be identified by checking that the sepal appendages on the fruits were of equal length. The leaves of Dog Mercury (Mercurialis perennis) were abundant, with Red Campion (Silene dioica), Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon), Wild Angelica (Angelica sylvestris), Wavy Bittercress (Cardamine flexuosa), Hedge Woundwort (Stachys sylvatica), and Marsh Thistle (Cirsium palustre) all showing.

Marsh Thistle (Cirsium palustre)
Amphibious Bistort (Persicaria amphibia), Upright Hedge Parsley (Torilis japonica), Wood False Brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum), Meadow Vetchling (Lathyrus pratensis), were also noted. Then Louise stopped to study an unusual looking figwort, which might possibly be a Green Figwort (Scrophularia umbrosa).

This odd-looking figwort was found growing in very damp conditions which resulted in much discussion on the matter of differentiating between the Common Figwort (Scrophularia nodosa), Green Figwort (S. umbrosa) and Water Figwort (S. auriculata) between Louise and Graeme; the leaves of S. umbrosa are pointed, like S. nodosa, but the stems are winged like S. auriculata and, under the two upper flower lips can be found a staminode, the shape of which is a critical feature. In the case of the Green Figwort (S. unbrosa) this is cleft, whilst with the Water Figwort (S. auriculata) it is rounded but to add further confusion the staminode of  the Common Figwort (S. nodosa) is occasionally illustrated as also being cleft in some books! A good hand lens is needed to enable the flower head to be examined to spot these small differences. Our specimen definitely had a lobed staminode.  Without a copy of Clive Stace's New Flora of the British Isles to hand we only had the winged-ness of the stem as a separating feature, a characteristic which is rather subjective at the best of times. The critical feature is also the width of the scarious border on the sepals. We'll know next time!  We concluded that it was S. nodosa growing in a particularly wet location. The stems are not winged enough. The staminode could be definitely be described as notched but did not have diverging lobes and the sepals do not have a wide enough papery margin to be Scrophularia umbrosa.

Common Figwort (Scrophularia nodosa)

Common Figwort (Scrophularia nodosa)

The Water Figwort (Scrophularia auriculata), with its small red-brown flowers could also be found growing in much drier conditions alongside the woodland paths. (These paths would probably have had their share of water throughout the winter months).

Water Figwort (Scrophularia auriculata)

As we progressed towards the lake, passing into another tetrad, the obstacles to our progress changed from brambles underfoot which constantly attempted to either trip one up or leave one with calf permanently scared, to tall bulrushes which also had a hidden weapon. If one handled them they could also inflict a cut to the hand, as was discovered. Then came the decision, was a plaster to be applied, or did one lick and suck the injured place before applying liberal doses of antiseptic spittle? The latter seemed to be the preferred course of action.

Bulrush (Typha latifolia)

This obviously is an area for extreme botany and where only dedicated botanists are likely to be found. On reaching the end of the lake, we were surprised to note that two hours had passed with so little of ground covered, due entirely to the quantity and quality of interesting flora found in the valley bottom. It was whilst taking lunch at this point that we encountered our first and only other visitors to the woodland when a horse and rider passed along the bridleway.

Equestrian on Bridle Path

Leaving the wooded valley behind, the route now followed a wide woodland track, which soon diverted away from the OS marked public footpath, but in view of latter waymarked signs, this seems to now be the normal route through the woodland and the public footpath did seem to be unused and overgrown.

A bindweed was located growing amongst the vegetation. A tip towards identification was provided by Louise; under the flower there are two large bracts which partly cover the sepals. Between these two bracts there was to be found an intermediate small pointed bract, which identified the flower as Hedge Bindweed (Calystegia sepium).

Woodland track

On the woodland track was both Annual Meadow Grass (Poa annua) and Rough Meadow Grass (P. trivialis), with Black Medic (Medicago lupulina) sprawling in the grass. Alongside the track was a drainage ditch which supported many grasses and plants; Marsh Foxtail (Alopercurus geniculatus), Water Figwort (Scrophularia auriculata) with winged stems, Squirrel-tailed Fescue (Vulpia bromoides), Three-nerved Sandwort (Moehringia trinervia), Pendulous Sedge (Carex pendula), Nipplewort (Lapsana communis), Prickly Sow-thistle (Sonchus asper), Shining Cranesbill (Geranium lucidum), a Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina) and Greater Plantain (Plantago major).

Greater Plantain (Plantago major)

Continuing along the track we also found Narrow Buckler Fern (Dryopteris carthusiana), Cut-leaved Cranesbill (Geranium dissectum), Perforate St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum), Hemp Agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum), Catsear (Hypochaeris radicata), Giant Fescue (Schedonorus giganteus) formerly (Festuca gigantea), Goat Willow (Salix caprea), White Willow (S. alba), Buddleia (Buddleja sp.), and Himalayan Honeysuckle (Leycesteria formosa) which is considered to be a noxious invasive species in Australia, New Zealand and some other places, but was a popular plant in Victorian shrubberies.

Himalayan Honeysuckle (Leycesteria formosa)

On departing from the wood, we emerged at the point where the canal left the now closed Norwood tunnel. Alongside the canal was an Ash tree (Fraxinus excelsior) resplendent, with keys in abundance.

Using a grappling hook, another essential item of the botanist’s toolkit, we extracted some pondweed from the canal which was identified as Fennel Pondweed (Potamogeton pectinatus). The plant was identified by the leaf, when cut in two reveals in cross- section that the sheath contained two tubes, no doubt acting as floatation chambers to keep the plant from sinking.

Next, a burdock plant, not yet in full flower, was examined. By cutting a leaf and noting the leaf-stem was hollow eliminated Greater Burdock (Arctium lappa) which has a solid leaf-stalk. It was decided that the species was Lesser Burdock (A. minus) due to the size of the flower heads. Arctium nemorosum has larger flower heads.

Now we started the return journey, following a public footpath across a field leading towards a tunnel under the M1 Motorway. On the way we noted Field Maple (Acer campetre), Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) and Bristly Oxtongue (Helminthotheca echioides) with its pimply leaves.

Footpath leading to M1 underpass

The path now skirted the edges of a field of oilseed rape and ran parallel with the motorway for a short way before turning to join a bridleway running between Wales and Woodall, known as Walseker Lane.

Species associated with this agricultural environment were now being found, such as Swine-cress (Lepidium squamatus) and Shepherd’s Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris). A large muck-heap attracted our attention as a possible source for botanical treasures. Reflexed Saltmarsh Grass (Puccinella distans) was found in the compacted area where all the nutrient-rich run-off collects. This is normally a coastal species but now increasingly being found inland, no doubt due to the practice of salting our roads.

The field edges and bridle path now produced a number of interesting species; Wild Oat-grass (Avena fatua), Broad-leaved Everlasting Pea (Lathyrus latifolius), Hedge Bindweed (Calystegia sepium), Black Grass (Alopecurus myosuroides) with its black seed heads, the aromatic Pineappleweed (Matricaria discoidea), Red Goosefoot (Chenopodium rubrum), Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris), and Barren Brome (Anisantha sterilis) were all encountered.

On entering the sleepy hamlet of Woodall there were still a few plants that could be considered as wild; Sun Spurge (Euphorbia helioscopia) growing on waste ground between houses and Common or Bird’s Eye Speedwell (Veronica chamaedrys) by the roadside on the edge of a retaining wall for a lawn.

An interesting survey, having passed through several different environments, ended at 3.30pm when arriving back at our parked cars.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Holme Moss & Isle of Skye Quarry

Holme Moss & Isle of Skye Quarry
Tuesday 12th June 2018

Peter Burton
Louise Hill
John Scott
Les Coe

The party met at the car park at Digley Reservoir for 10.30am.
There we were greeted by the calling of Cuckoo, Curlew and Oystercatcher announcing our arrival in the high moorland. The aim for the day was to reconnoiter potential sites for a South Yorkshire Botany Group visit in July. After planning the routes for the day with the leader, we set off to park alongside the Holme Moss Mast.

Holme Moss
We found the moors were very dry following a period of fine weather, making the trek through the heather and cotton-grass pleasant.

Cotton Grass - Eriphorum angustifolium

As we proceeded across the moorland, we found two species of Cotton-grass, Common Cotton-grass (Eriophorum angustifolium) and Hare’s-tail Cotton-grass (E. vaginatum), with a sheep grazed stump of Rowen (Sorbus aucuparia) nestling amongst the heather, as was on old Grouse nest that looked to have been predated as only egg shells and a whole egg remained.

Peter led us to a site where he knew the Stag's-horn Clubmoss (Lycopodium clavatum) grew. Also, at this site we found New Zealand Willowherb (Epilobium brunnescens), Procumbent Pearlwort (Sagina procumbens), Heath Rush (Juncus squarrosus) and Soft Rush (J. effusus).

Stag's-horn Clubmoss (Lycopodium clavatum)
Resuming our walk over the moor we came across Cross-leaved Heath (Erica tetralix), with sightings of Grouse, Swift and Golden Plover, the latter putting on a display of injured wing to try and draw us away from her nest or chicks. A visit was made to examine a solitary tree, thought to be a Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis) but it was difficult to be sure as it only had soft new growth. The old needles had probably been blasted off by the Beast from the East. We also found sheep grazed stumps of this species amongst the heather at various points throughout the walk. Common Polypody (Polypodium vulgare), and Narrow Buckler Ferns (Dryopteris carthusiana) were come across occasionally.

The walk meandered along the boundary of two counties, South Yorkshire and Derbyshire, and we came across boundary markers, in the form of concrete posts, set in the ground along the way. When we reached Wigley’s Cabin, and after admiring the expansive view over Hey Clough, towards Holme and Holmfirth, we started the return journey taking a slightly different course.

Wrigley's Cabin
A caterpillar of the Oak Eggar Moth, aka Northern Eggar (Lasiocampa quercus) was found and Small Heath Butterflies (Coenonympha pamphilus) flew amongst the Crowberry (Empetrum nigrum), Cloudberrry (Rubus chamaemorus) with fruit, and Cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos).

Cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos)

A mountain Hare was flushed from its hiding place. Many Marsh Thistles (Cirsium palustre) inhabited the ground near to the mast as competition had been reduced due to the ground being regularly cleared of other vegetation by the maintenance teams for the mast.

Cloudberrry (Rubus chamaemorus
Next, we visited the Isle of Skye Quarry, situated on the A635 road on Wessenden Head Moor. Immediately our presence was noted by Curlews who strongly objected to this intrusion into their territory. One bird sat like a sentinel guarding the entrance to the quarry and vocalised its displeasure.

A sentinel Curlew

Bell Heather (Erica cinerea) in full flower, Heath Woodrush (Luzula multiflora) and Marsh Thistles (Cirsium palustre) were immediately discovered on entering the quarry. Southern Marsh Orchids (Dactylorhiza praetermissa), Lady Ferns (Athyrium filix-femina), Scaly Male Fern (Dryopteris affinis agg.), Broad Buckler Ferns (D. dilatata), Hard Fern (Blechnum spicant), New Zealand Willowherb (Epilobium brunnescens), Pill Sedge (Carex pilulifera), Glaucous Sedge (C. flacca) were all found to be plentiful especially amongst the rocks and under the quarry walls.

Bell Heather (Erica sp.)
Fox and Cubs (Pilosella aurantiaca) here put on an impressive display against the quarry wall, with Yorkshire Fog (Holcus lanatus) and Water Horsetails (Equisetum fluviatile), Soft Rush (Juncus effusus) and Creeping Willow (Salix repens) covering the Millstone Grit of the quarry floor. The rock in this particular location is known as Huddersfield White Rock
(see Use your 'back' button to return here.
In addition Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis), Common Mouse-ear (Cerastium fontanum) and Broad-leaved Willowherb (Epilobium montanum) were all sharing this space.

Fox and Cubs (Pilosella aurantiaca)
Also, there were Yellow Sedge (Carex demissa), Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor), Lesser Trefoil (Trifolium dubium), Common Figwort (Scrophularia nodosa), Heath Woodrush (Luzula multiflora), Heath Rush (Juncus squarrosus), Common Vetch (Vicia sativum agg.), Black Sedge (Carex nigra), and Heath Bedstraw (Galium saxatile).

A pair of mating butterflies were Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilusc) and a Wood Tiger Moth (Parasemia plantaginis) were found by Peter, who provided the ID.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Sheffield & Tinsley Canal
10th June 2018
Leader: Ken Balkow

Ken Balkow
Les Coe 


Louise Hill 
John Scott 

 The Tinsley Canal offers a diverse collection of flora and fauna, such that in a single visit one will only scratch the surface of what is on offer. As the walk could pass through six tetrads, it would not possible to record everything in each of them with our limited resources, so we decided instead to appreciate the flora (and fauna) on offer. In Ken we have a knowledgeable leader who is extremely familiar with this Canal’s natural environment. 

Despite traveling through the industrial east-end of Sheffield, the canal affords that get-away-from-it-all feeling of peace and tranquility. The waterway, which not so long ago served the industry of Sheffield, is now given over to pleasure pursuits; one can take a tour of the canal on passenger barges while the towpath offers a pleasant route for walkers and cyclist wishing to access the city centre without suffering the fumes and noise of other road users. Fishermen can also enjoy their sport in pleasant surroundings. 

On a pleasant warm sunny day, the group met in an unusually quiet Meadowhall to begin the survey. Even before reaching the start where the River Don and the Canal pass under the M1 Tinsley viaduct, there were a wide variety of native and alien plants are to be encountered. In an area that has been left to nature there is great competition for dominance of space from Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica), Great Bindweed (Calystegia sylvatica) and Russian Vine (Fallopia baldschuanica), with a False Acacia Tree (Robinia pseudoacacia) also distributing its saplings in order to also establish a niche for itself. 

Despite this, we found plants filling every other available space. Hoary Mustard (Hirschfeldia incana), Fodder Vetch (Vicia villosa), Cut-leaved Cranesbill (Geranium dissectum), Sweet Vernal Grass (Anthoxanthum adoratum) were all to be found by the tram stop. Beaked Hawkweed (Crepis versicaria) already going over, Black Medick (Medicago lupulina), Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), Hybrid Campion (Silene hampeana), Soapwort (Saponaria officinalis) not yet in flower, Japanese Quince (Chaenomeles japonica), Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), Oxford Ragwort (Senecio squalidus) and Narrow-leaved Ragwort (S. inaequidens), Melilot (Melilotus sp.), Thyme-leaved Sandwort (Arenaria serpyllifolia), Curled Dock (Rumex crispus), Goats Rue (Galega officinalis) growing by the fence, Hedge Bedstraw (Galium album), Greater Knapweed (Centaurea scabiosa) and Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis) were established along the walkway leading to the canal towpath. Also noted was possibly Balkan Clary (Salvia nemorosa) but this has to be confirmed. 

Balkan Clary (Salvia nemorosa)

At the start of the canal walk we found growing in or at the edge of the canal Water Figwort (Scrophularia auriculata), Broad-leaved Pondweed (Potamogeton natans), Curled Pondweed (Potamogeton crispus), Narrow-leaved Water Plantain (Alisma lanceolatum), Reed Sweet Grass (Glyceria maxima), Gypsywort (Lycopus europaeus), Field Horsetail (Equisetum arvense), a species of Water Cress (Nasturtium sp.) and Hedgerow Cranesbill (Geranium pyrenaicum). 

 A canal side building had some artfully drawn murals, some of which had unfortunately become defaced. 

 Along the canal towpath plants were growing in any and every available space, be that at the water’s edge, on the walls of locks or even lock gates, or even in the thin strip of land between the footpath and water. At various points along the canal, adjacent land, being neglected, had also been colonised by the flora. In here Bee Orchids (Ophrys apifera) were to be found growing in the shade. Common Spotted Orchids (Dactylorhiza fuchsia) were being admired by bank-side fishermen as they sat waiting for the fish to bite, and further along Southern Marsh Orchid (D. praetermissa) also growing alongside the towpath, had unfortunately been trod upon. 

Where cuttings had been made for the canal, the tree lined sides also afforded suitable sites for shade loving plants. Here ferns were well established; Hearts-tongue Fern (Aspenium scolopendrium), Male Fern (Dryopteris filix-mas), Scaly Male Fern (D. affinis), Broad-leaved Buckler (D. dilatata) and Hard Shield Fern (Polystrichum aculeatum) and Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum agg.), with Male Ferns even spreading down to colonise the retaining wall at the water’s edge. 

Many trees and bushes have found suitable places to become well established alongside the canal, with many introductions, both by man and birds and some from wind-blown seeds from nearby plantings by local business premises around their car parks and gardens. We noted along the way Japanese Quince (Chaenomeles japonica), False Acacia (Robinia pseudoacacia), a member of the pea family, Swedish Whitebeam (Sorbus intermedia), was in full blossom and is quite common in Sheffield, Bird Cherry (Prunus padus), Common Alder (Alnus glutinosa) and Italian Alder (A. cordata), with saplings of Buddleja and Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) growing at the water’s edge. Fig Trees (Ficus carica) which have become established along the canal having grown from seeds thrown away by people. The warmer micro-climate created by the heavy industry contributed to the success of this tree. However, all the trees are infertile as the wasp that normally pollinates the flowers is only to be found in the Mediterranean. One of the Fig trees passed on this walk is a very old specimen having grown to 10mts high and 20mts wide. Wild Cherry (Prunus avium) and Buddleja (Buddleja sp.) had colonised waste ground adjacent to the towpath, Honeysuckle and Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea) scrambled through the low bushes while the Grey Poplar (Populus canescens) was throwing up lots of suckers. 

Two species of Broom were noted, as well as the common Broom (Cytisus scoparius) the Hairy-fruited Broom (C. striatus) was found, distinguished from the former by having pods hairy all over, rather than hairy edged. The sweet-smelling white flowered Many Flowered Rose (Rosa multiflora), Guelder Rose (Viburnum opulus) and Wayfaring Tree (Viburnum lantana), which still had flowers on it, Spindle (Euonymus europaeus), and Cockspur Thorn (Crataegus crus-galli) a species of Hawthorn native to eastern North America, were all on display. An old wooden post in the canal even had a small Birch Tree (Betula sp.) growing from it. A Juneberry (Amelanchier lamarckii) and Snowberry (Symphoricarpos sp.), a shrub in the Honeysuckle Family, a Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster sp.), Darwin’s Barberry (Berberis vulgaris) was seen on the opposite side of the canal. Bladder Senna (Colutea arborescens), whose flowers are yellow and form into the butterfly-like shape that is common for many members of the pea family, rounded off an exercise in tree watching, a much under-subscribed hobby. 

A variety of grasses and sedge were to be found growing alongside the towpath, Remote Sedge (Carex remota) is a common waterside plant along this canal, with False Fox Sedge (C. otrubae), Oval Sedge (C. ovalis), Red Fescue (Festuca rubra), Yorkshire Fog (Holcus lanatus) with its pink striped pyjamas, Barren Brome (Anisantha sterilis), Oval Sedge (Carex leporina), Ratstail Fescue (Vulpia myuros), Wall Barley (Hordeum murinum), Perennial Ryegrass (Lolium perenne), Reed Sweet Grass (Glyceria maxima), Glaucous Sedge (Carex flacca), Meadow Foxtail (Alopecurus pratensis), False Oat-grass (Arrhenatherum elatius), Common Couch Grass (Elytrigia repens). 

Water plants are able to establish themselves despite the frequent boat movements, by occupying the water margins. Some of these plants were quite exotic; notably the Altar Lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica) found growing at the water’s edge in the Marina when lunch was taken. 

Marina on Sheffield & Tinsley Canal

Here also, a plant of “well-trodden places” Lesser Swine-cress (Lepidium didymus) was to be found growing between the cracks in the pavement. Hemlock (Conium maculatum) with the coloured stems, growing to 2mts high path-side along with Hedge Parsley (Torilis japonica). A fine tall display of Fox and Cubs (Pilosella aurantiaca) growing alongside Great Willowherb (Epilobium parviflorum), Rosebay Willowherb (Chamerion angustifolium), Pendulous Sedge (Carex pendula) around the edge of the marina. These shared space with Tufted Vetch (Vicia cracca) and Hairy Tare (V. hirsuta), whilst in the water floated Greater Duckweed (Spirodela polyrhiza) with in the margins was established Shade Horsetail (Equisetum pratense), a hybrid between Field Horsetail (E. arvense) and Water Horsetail (E. fluvatile) despite one of the parents not being present. Also in the vicinity of the Marina was Shining Cranesbill (Geranium lucidum), Hemlock Water Dropwort (Oenanthe crocata), Skullcap (Scutellaria galericulata), Yellow Iris (Iris pseudacorus) and Marsh Yellow Cress (Rorippa palustris)

The passing of a barge carrying passengers under Broughton Lane Bridge and sightings of Banded Damoiselles (Calopteryx splendens) flitting over the Bulrushes (Typha latifolia) provided an interlude to the botanising. Three species of Water-lily can be found growing in the canal, White Water Lily (Nymphaea alba), Yellow Water Lily (Nuphar lutea) and Fringed Water Lily (Nymphoides peltata). 

Whilst Ivy was quite common amongst the waterside trees, there was also a cousin present in the form of Persian Ivy (Hedera colchica), which does lacks the winter beauty of our common Ivy (Hedera helix). Field Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis), a stand of the flattened seed pods of Honesty (Lunaria annua), Field Horsetail (Equisetum arvense), Narrow-leaved Water Plantain (Alisma lanceolatum), Wild Carrot (Daucus carota), a handsome blue flowered Meadow Cranesbill (Geranium pratense), Broad-leaved Everlasting Pea (Lathyrus latifolius), Bittersweet, or if you prefer, Woody Nightshade (Solanum dulcamara), Prickly Sow-thistle (Sonchus asper), and Short-fruited Willowherb (Epilobium obscurum). 

Here we watched a pair of mating Damselflies on a Yellow Water Lily that constantly sank below the water as the leaf upon which they rested rose and fell, but they stuck to their task regardless. Also patrolling across the water was a Dragonfly (unidentified) with a green Damselfly, probably a female Common Blue (Enallagma cyathigerum), keeping to the bank-side vegetation. 

Brown Bayley Mooring had flowering Greater Knapweed (Centaurea scabiosa), Meadow Buttercups (Ranunculus acris), Greater Stitchwort (Stellaria holostea), Creeping Thistle (Cirsium arvense), Catsear (Hypochaeris radicata), and Common Vetch (Vicia sativa), with the leaves of Unbranched Bur-reed (Sparganium emersum) floating on the water. 

A diversion away from the canal to an area which might have once been a carpark, it still having tall lighting towers and a fully tarmacked hard-standing, which, despite this hostile environment, plants had still managed to establish themselves in cracks and crevices, with Red Valerian (Centranthus ruber) relishing the dry conditions. Eastern Rocket (Sisymbrium orientale), was to be found growing against a wall, while Stinking Hellebore (Helleborus foetidus) and the tall yellow flowered Weld (Reseda luteola) were happily growing through the tarmac, and Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolate) was at home in what would appear to be hostile conditions. 

Red Valerian (Centranthus ruber)
Finally, now nearing the end of the tour there were still plants a plenty to be found. Crossing the Darnall Road aqueduct Purple Toadflax (Linaria purpurea) was spotted growing on the opposite bank, with Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), Wall Lettuce (Mycelis muralis), more Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) and the leaves of the early flowering Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) growing at the canal side. Here, poor drainage had led to the path becoming somewhat muddy now (but even worse in the winter months), but where the Shade Horsetail had found a home. A white form of Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) and a Many-flowered Rose (Rosa multiflora) brightened up the shaded cutting, with an Iris (Iris sp.), having broad leaves and purple flowers needed further consultation before an ID could be established (but probably Iris germanica

 On leaving the canal to catch a tram to make the return journey to Meadowhall, growing at the kurb side we noted Horse-radish (Armoracia rusticana), Wall Speedwell (Veronica arvensis), Common Whitlowgrass (Eropila verna agg.) and Common Field Speedwell (V. persica). The quantity and variety of flora found alongside or adjacent to the canal was most impressive, with trees and shrubs, ferns, flowers, grasses, sedges and water plants providing stimulation for the botanist; dragonfly and damselfly for the odonatist; Bird song accompanied us throughout the tour, while butterflies and moths did entertained us, but could prove illusive for ID purposes. This is a walk to be recommended to anyone with an interest in all things nature.