Wednesday 28 October 2015

Orchids of South Yorkshire

Travelling along Manvers Way in the Dearne Valley on the border of Barnsley to Rotherham my Wife Elaine and I saw the notice in the attached picture on the roundabout to RSPB Old Moor Nature Reserve. The Dactylorhiza species and hybrids have been growing in the verges along this stretch of road for a number of years but it wasn't until someone found Bee Orchids at the Bus Stop about three years ago that  Pete Wall of the Dearne Valley Improvement Area approached Rotherham MBC and as partners in the NIA they agreed not to cut the verges in that area until the Autumn. This year on our annual visit to see how things are going on we found that not only are the Marsh and Spotted Orchids thriving  but we counted over One Hundred Spikes of Bee Orchids, and probably more, from the Broomhill roundabout to the Roundabout after Old Moor, no doubt helped by the slip stream of traffic along this busy road. Also we now have a thriving colony of Lathyrus nissolia (Grass vetchling) in that area. Thanks must go to Matthew Capper Manager of RSPB Old Moor, Pete Wall of NIA and Rotherham MBC for their combined efforts in maintaining and improving this particularly rich area of the Dearne Valley. On our way to a field meeting we saw a similar notice on the A1 Roundabout at Marr which is in Doncaster MBC who are also NIA partners. No doubt the other two councils in South Yorkshire are encouraging our natural heritage in this once heavily industrialised part of Yorkshire.
Image Mel Linney

Ash Hill Farm Field Report (VC 63)

5th August 2015

Ash Hill Farm, Moss

The group held a joint visit with members of the Doncaster Naturalist's Society on the afternoon of the 5th of August at John Scott's Farm, north of Doncaster.  The farm lies on the clay soils of the former Lake Humber in the Humberhead Levels Natural Area. We started with a wander over to an old pond which supports a colony of slender tufted sedge (Carex acuta), a species which had, for many years, been overlooked as (Carex acutiformis) at this site.  We also saw colonies of water violet (Hottonia palustris) and various-leaved water starwort (Callitriche platycarpa).

Our tour then took in a couple of newer scrape ponds, south of the species-rich hay meadow created using hay from a SSSI meadow at Went Ings, near Sykehouse.  Around the gateway of the meadow, the group saw an abundance of stone parsley (Sison amomum), a species which is at the northern edge of its range here in South Yorkshire.  It appeared soon after the meadow was created.

The shallow-edged ponds near Tune Wood were created over a decade ago and now support a diversity of aquatic and emergent plants.  Some are natural colonists and others are introductions.  
Samolus valerandi
Notable species include brookweed (Samolus valerandi) and lesser water plantain (Baldellia ranunculoides) seen growing amongst the fringe of sharp-flowered, jointed, compact and soft rushes (Juncus acutiflorus, C. articulatus, C. conglomeratus and C. effusus).  The damp grassland around the margins of the pond support abundant southern marsh orchids (Dactylorhiza praetermissa) and scattered grass vetchling (Lathyrus nissolia) and the seed heads of both were seen.  The grassland also supports ragged robin (Silene flos-cuculi) and dyer's green weed (Genista tinctoria).
Baldellia ranunculoides

A smaller, shadier pond situated between the end of Tune Wood and a small copse, supported a thick mat of water violet with marsh pennywort (Hydrocotyle vulgaris) growing at the pond margin.  Nearby was a healthy colony of the locally-rare small teasel (Dipsacus pilosus), a single plant of water dock (Rumex hydrolapathum).  There was also a clump of true fox sedge (Carex vulpina), a plant grown from seed from this Red Data Book species which was recently re-discovered growing near Fishlake.  A third pond was dug in Spring 2015 to add another aquatic habitat to the area.  A small specimen of opposite-leaved pondweed (Groenlandia densa) was seen in the bare margins.  The Botany Group are welcome to make a return visit to see how this pond develops.

Louise Hill.
Images Louise Hill.