Friday 3 October 2014

Sprotborough Field Meeting (VC63)

Sprotborough 14/6/2014

Six eager botanists met at the Boat Inn car park to explore the delights of the picturesque Don Gorge which lies on the Magnesian Limestone Belt to the West of  Doncaster.

The group proceeded up the footpath opposite the Boat Inn towards Cooke's Bower where Blackstonia perfoliata (Yellow Wort), Bryonia diocica (White Bryony) and Mahonia aquifolium (Oregon Grape) along with Campanula trachelium (Nettle-leaved Bellflower), Anacamptis pyramidalis (Pyramidal Orchid and White Form ) and a fine stand of ten Platanthera chlorantha (Greater Butterfly Orchid) were observed.

 After lunch the group crossed Nursery Lane  onto the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust reserve. The Orchid count was increased with Dactylorhiza fuchsii (Common Spotted Orchid), D. praetermissa (Southern Marsh Orchid), Neottia ovata (Common Twayblade), N. nidus-avis (Birds-nest Orchid) and Ophrys apifera (Bee Orchid) added to the list. The day finished early but not before ninety four species were recorded and quite possibly double that number if the weather hadn't turned bad.


Images Mel & Elaine Linney.

Friday 19 September 2014


We had a very enjoyable day with 13 attendees.  The morning
was spent looking around the green lanes of Fishlake near
Stewards Ings Lane where we found the true fox sedge, fine leaved water
dropwort, stone parsley, great yellow-cress, spiked sedge, and a range
of wetland plants including marsh ragwort, trifid bur-marigold and pink
water speedwell.

After a pleasant lunchtime break at the Hare and Hounds, we
continued our day with a short wander along the washlands south of the
Church at Fishlake. Highlights of the afternoon were the greater
burdock, greater duckweed, flowering rush and profusion of golden dock.
Images by Louise Hill.

Louise Hill

Thursday 18 September 2014



 Wilthorpe Marsh is one of a number of flood plains along the River Dearne. There are signs of its industrial past with what was an area of opencast mining about thirty years ago, some stretches of the abandoned Barnsley Canal where Hydrocharis morus-ranae(Frogbit) was found and the now closed Redbrook Colliery nearby. Six botanists enjoyed the day with Jeff Lunn who shared his vast knowledge, not only of the ecology but the history of the area. Rather  than  ramble on I have copied a letter from our VC63 Recorder Geoffrey Wilmore who sums up the day quite eloquently.

" Dear All
     Please find attached the plant list for our visit to Wilthorpe Marsh last Saturday.   Many thanks to Jeff Lunn for leading the walk and showing us a very diverse and interesting area of wetlands, neutral and acidic grasslands, woodland and scrub, to Peter Middleton for co-ordinating the arrangements, and, of course, to Kay Mc Dowell, for shouldering the main burden of recording during the day.    It would be nice to do a full NVC evaluation of the area we covered.  Sadly, time on the day did not permit the level of detail required to complete such an exercise, but I made a mental note of at least 9 or 10 NVC communities, and there are probably more.  A truly rich area.
162 species recorded in the tetrad is a valuable total for the BSBI 2020 Atlas Project , and the Hydrocharis morsus-ranae  has been entered in the Red Data Plant Register for VC 63.
  Kind regards "
Anyone wanting a plant list please e-mail me.

Mel Linney

Tuesday 15 July 2014



On a hot day a group of 7 explored and recorded this area of green belt land on the SW side of Sheffield, all of which belongs to VC57 (Derbyshire). Behind the Abbey Bistort (Persicaria bistorta) is present on one of the graves but is usually mown soon after flowering. The Abbey ponds held a variety of aquatic and marginal species including the invasive New Zealand Pigmyweed (Crassula helmsii), Marsh Ragwort (Senecio aquaticus) and Various-leaved Water-starwort (Callitriche platycarpa). The latter was found and identified by Ambroise Baker. The colony of Wood Barley (Hordelymus europaeus) which used to occur behind the upper pond no longer seems to exist, but a few specimens were found a bit further on at the edge of Gulley's Wood. The old nursery is gradually being converted into allotment gardens but many interesting species remain, including Small Nettle (Urtica urens), Hoary Mustard (Hirschfeldia incana), Common Stork's-bill (Erodium cicutarium), Fern-grass (Catapodium rigidum), Rat's-tail Fescue (Vulpia myuros) and Great Brome (Anisantha diandra). A single Broad-leaved Helleborine (Epipactis helleborine) was seen in the woods below Bradway Road. Across that road on Dore and Totley golf course an area of disturbed soil held Fool's-parsley (Aethusa cynapium), Scarlet-pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis), Wall Speedwell (Veronica arvensis) and Field Pansy (Viola arvensis), whilst a wall on Bradway Road provided 4 Asplenium ferns, Hart's-tongue (A.scolopendrium), Wall-rue (A.ruta muraria), Black Spleenwort (A.adiantum- nigrum) and Maidenhair Spleenwort (A. trichomanes). Thanks especially to Oliver Pescott and Ambroise Baker for spotting plants that I might have missed and for helping with accurate identification.

Ken Balkow

Wednesday 18 June 2014

Wombwell Wood Meeting 17th May 2014

Twenty four members and guests met at the Woodhead lane car park for our second meeting of the season. As is usual at a Botanical meeting the car park got a good looking over to start the day. One plant found with a rather small purple flower and struggling to exist in a ditch was something of an enigma, probably because of its weak stature and growing out of its usual habitat. After scrutinising the picture that was taken it is a good assumption that it was Lunaria annua (Honesty), a common plant in the hedgerows along the lanes that run through the wood. Your correspondent went back a week later hoping to find the plant in fruit but, alas, it must have given up the ghost.
We made our way along one of the paths through the newly opened Upper Woodhead area to enter the wood. The Upper Woodhead area was once a farmers field which was outcropped for coal before being handed over to the Forestry Commission and planted with a range of native trees. On entering the wood we took the path towards Sandy Lane, a road now closed because of persistant fly tipping, to find a number of plants new to the species list, particulary Arum maculatum (Lords and Ladies) which is quite common along this stretch of the path.

Proceeding along Sandy Lane Geranium robertianum (Herb Robert) and Geum urbanum (Wood Avens)  were found along with Lonicera periclymenum (Honeysuckle) and Vaccinium myrtillus (Bilberry). At the bottom of Sandy Lane we took a short break to re-group and enjoy the views across the Dove Valley towards Worsborough and look at the expanse of Hyacinthoides non-scripta (Bluebell) in the wooded area at the other side of Dovecliffe Road.
Because we had a sizeable party it was decided by the leaders to cut through the wood rather than take the road towards the reservoir. At the "Res" we took lunch but not before finding Barbarea vulgaris (Common Winter-cress) and Veronica officinalis (Heath Speedwell) amongst other species, some of which indicated its past use as an illegal dumping ground.
After the break we went further into the wood to an area cleared to accommodate overhead cables which revealed a good range of plants common to edge of woodland and open grassland. Before heading back to the Reservoir we visited a small disused quarry where we found some good specmens of Dryopteris dilatata (Broad Buckler Fern). At a small bridge crossing a stream flowing into the reservoir's header pond we found Veronica beccabunga (Brooklime) another species new to the list. It was a good day for adding species to the current list with, if my sums are correct, twenty three to the Hectad list and thirty five to the Wombwell Wood list, of which ten were AWI plants, and with no great surprises it is probably one of our less recorded areas.


A Report to the Woodland Trust
A Survey of the Coverage, Use and
Application of Ancient Woodland
Indicator Lists in the UK
Written and researched by:
Peter Glaves, Ian D. Rotherham, Barry Wright, Christine Handley,
& John Birbeck
By Hallam Environmental Consultants Ltd.,
Biodiversity and Landscape History Research Institute
and the Geography, Tourism and Environment Change Research Unit,
Sheffield Hallam University
October 2009.

Images by Mel Linney

Mel Linney

Monday 28 April 2014

Inaugral Meeting at Sandbeck Park (VC63)

Twenty three Botanists assembled for the group's inaugural meeting at Sandbeck Park, the 16th century family home of the Earls of Scarbrough on Sturday 26th April.

Group photo at Sandbeck Park (Credit: Louise Hill)

After introductions  the party visited the now derelict walled garden where Narcissus poeticus (Pheasants Eye Daffodil) and Leucojum aestivum (Summer Snowflake) was observed before proceeding to the lake.

The area around the lake is a botanical cornucopia with something of interest for every speciality. Some plants found included Campanula trachelium (Nettle-leaved Bellflower), Salix x holosericea (Silky-leaved Osier), Viscum album (Mistletoe) and Fritillaria meleagris (Fritillary) along with its white variant. The final tally of more than 150 species with eight on the RDP Project list made this a very satisfying morning.

Geum rivale - Water Avens (Credit: Kate Wright)
For lunch the group relocated to Roche Abbey, a Cistercian monastry until the dissolution in 1536. The afternoon session around the Abbey and later at Norwoods (SSSI) realised a list in excess of 150 species which included Helleborus viridis (Green Hellebore), Ribes alpinum (Mountain Currant), Rubus saxatalis (Stone Bramble) and Gagea lutea (Yellow Star -of -Bethlehem).

Cardamine amara - Large Bitter-cress (left) and Stellaria neglecta - Greater Chickweed (right) (Credit: Louise Hill)
The weather was kind, the company superb and everyone enjoyed themselves immensely. The group would like to thank Rotherham Naturalists Society for organising the day but most of all a big thank you goes to Lord and Lady Scarbrough for giving access to a beautiful part of South Yorkshire that is Sandbeck Park.
Mel Linney

Monday 3 March 2014

Moss and liverwort outing, Fox House, Feb 8th 2014

As reported below by Kate, we had lovely day! Here is a short account of some of the bryological highlights of the day. I am looking for a way to put up on our blog the species list, let me know if you have an idea.

We first explored boulders and trees in a clear woodland part of the Longshaw Estate. Finding Tritomaria exsectiformis was very exciting because this liverwort is uncommon in the area. It was relatively abundant on boulders and bore conspicuous clusters of reddish-brown gemmae (little asexual propagules). 

We recorded many epiphytes including a few unusual species such as Pylaisia polyantha. Tom demonstrated the field characters to look for with this species and Louise managed to photograph the diagnostic capsule lids of conical shape. Many thanks to Louise for sending her picture!

We also spend time looking at commoner species and we got particularly impressed by one patch of Brachythecium rutabulum literally covered with ripe capsules (organs of sexual reproduction). This and other findings led to sobering discussion on the complexity of bryophytes reproduction.

After a detour by a small boggy place with low abundance of Sphagnum, we had lunch sheltered in a conifer plantation where bryophytes appeared less diverse. After lunch we headed off towards the Burbage Brook.
There was a great variety of bryophytes by and in a small tumbling stream we encountered. Species observed include Fontinalis antipyretrica and Dichodontium pellucidum, for instance, and Tom also spotted the rarer Platyhypnidium lusitanicum and Trichostomum tenuirostre.

Three of us continued moss-hunting a bit further down the valley. We dived into a mire dominated by tall rushes and deep water, looking for Sphagnum. We initially struggled to find the common Sphagnum fallax but we were eventually rewarded and all in all found a very good six Sphagnum species plus one specimen pending refereed identification.

This was a very successful outing with 6 field botanist, 16 liverwort species and 67 mosses species recorded ;-)  Thanks a lot to Joan and Tom for sharing their knowledge and experience.


Sunday 16 February 2014

Bryophytes at Longshaw Estate

On Saturday 8th February, a group of six members from the newly formed South Yorkshire Botany Group braved the bitterly cold winds to explore mosses on the Longshaw Estate at the edge of the Peak District, just a few miles from the outskirts of Sheffield.

The site offered a variety of habitats and mosses were abundant on rocks, trees and on the ground within the woodland. We also explored the area alongside a small stream, and a boggier area of open ground.

As a novice, I was a little overwhelmed by the vast number of species found.  Over 30 species were identified - a full list of species found will be added shortly.

Many thanks to Ambroise for organising the trip.

Brachythecium rutabulum (Rough-stalked Feather-moss)

Orthotrichum pulchellum (Elegant Bristle-moss) 
(Photographs by Kate Wright & Louise Hill)
Kate Wright

Wednesday 5 February 2014

Training Day at Old Moor (June 2013)

On Sunday 16th June we met up for a BSBI regional training day led by Mel Linney. This was aimed at beginners like me, though there were more experienced members also attending who were happy to share their experience. 

We met at RSPB Old Moor reserve near Wath on Dearne.

In the morning, we walked the half mile or so to Gypsy Marsh, another piece of land managed by the RSPB but outside the reserve itself. It took us a while to get there, as we kept stopping and looking at things: mainly hedgerow and pond marginals. The session was well organised, focusing on the pea, buttercup and daisy families and with a leaflet provided that showed the key species and features.

At Gypsy Marsh itself there were orchids within a grassland meadow.  As a novice, I tried to get my head around the differences between the two main species and their hybrid versions.

I learned two new buttercup plants I had never even heard of: celery leaved buttercup, a small pond plant with elongated seed heads (pictured); and greater spearwort, another pond plant but this time a giant reaching > 1 metre tall and with elongated leaves.

We had lunch at the RSPB Visitor Centre, then went into the reserve itself. Our first task was to survey orchids in a field closed off from the public. We counted 1000+ orchids, and it was interesting to relate their distribution back to the topography, with the majority occuring in the damper areas in a depression.

We spent the rest of the afternoon meandering down 'Green Lane' which is the main pathway through the reserve. We saw numerous different plants, including more water loving plants in the stream running alongside. It was interesting to see how big some of the Southern Marsh Orchids were growing (around 2 feet tall) due to a combination of plentiful water in the ditch and competition from grasses.

I filled four pages of my notebook with plant species and a brief description, and took numerous photographs.

A great day, and if I can retain half of what I have learned I will be very happy :)

Kate Wright