Friday 31 August 2018

Saddleworth Moor

Saddleworth Moor
29 August 2018

Leader Kay Woodward, joint VC 63 recorder

Kay Woodward
Peter Burton
Les Coe

Louise Hill
John Scott

The purpose of the meeting was to add to the species count in under-recorded areas of these moors.
Trying to arrange the meeting around the vagaries of the weather resulted in a number of interested parties being unable to join us.

The party met at 10.30am at a lay-bye on the busy A635 (SE 050 063).
We were greeted with low cloud and drizzle, making visibility much reduced, but happily the weather improved very quickly and then remained fine throughout the day. It was decided to do a circular walk, which would pass through four tetrads, and include Holme Clough. The ground was surprising wet in places following such a dry summer, with water flowing through runnels and channels towards the Clough, where a small stream flowed towards the downstream reservoirs.

Peter & Kay
Crossing the moor, which was 507 mts at the highest point, we encounter typical moorland vegetation consisting of flowering Heather (Calluna vulgaris), Crowberry (Empetrum nigrum), Bilberry (Vaccinium myrillus), Cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus), Common Cotton-grass (Eriophorum angustifolium), Hare's-tail Cotton-grass (Eriophorum vaginatum), Wavy Hair-grass (Deschampsia flexuosa), Purple Moor-grass (Molinia caerulea), Mat-grass (Nardus stricta), and Soft Rush (Juncus effusus) in large numbers. It was noticeable that there were no signs of peat erosion and as we found many areas where new vegetation had been introduced. This had been secured with large pegs to help it get established and had proved to be very successful. In addition to the above list of species, we also found low growing Broad Buckler-fern (Dryopteris dilatata) which never reached the stature as found at lower levels; plenty of Rosebay Willowherb (Chamerion angustifolium) and American Willowherb (Epilobium ciliatum), with the occasional small Rhododendron (Rhododendron ponticum) attempting to becoming established. There were also the occasional small tree also attempting to establish themselves, despite the attentions of sheep and possible deer. These included Downy Birch (Betula pubescens), Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis), and a Larch sp. (Larix sp.)

Awaiting an ID
Now into the next tetrad descending towards Holme Clough, we encountering all the above mentioned species, but were now seeing an introduction of other species. Yorkshire Fog (Holcus lanatus), Sheep's Sorrel (Rumex acetosella), Mouse-ear-hawkweed (Pilosella officinarum), Ragwort sp. (Senecio sp.), a Bent (Agrostis sp.) and Prickly Sowthistle (Sonchus asper) were all noted. A Kestrel (Falco naumanni) searching the moors for pray and white-tailed Bumblebees (Bombus sp.) working the heather flowers added to the day, along with many Oak Eggar (Lasiocampa quercus) caterpillars and a Broom Moth (Melanchra pisi) caterpillar which were spotted on the vegetation, along with grass-hoppers and frogs aplenty.

Broom Moth caterpillar (Melanchra pis)
Having reached the stream in Holme Clough we explored a short way into Little Holme Clough noting Heath Rush (Juncus squarrosus), Glaucous Sedge (Carex flacca). Now out of the wind, lunch was taken before resuming our walk alongside the stream in Holme Clough. Here Heath Bedstraw (Galium saxatile), Hard-fern (Blechnum spicant), Male-fern (Dryopteris filix-mas) and Mountain-fern or Lemon Scented-fern (Oreopteris limbosperma), which was spotted by Kay who was familiar with the species. It was a young plant having a nice aroma of lemon when crushed as the name suggests. Another such plant, though much larger, was seen a little further along the stream-side which had little of the aroma as found in the younger plant. Peter then spotted a plant that was growing mid-stream that defied our abilities to arrive at an identification, so a sample was taken for further study and consultation by Kay. Marsh Thistle (Cirsium palustre)) were well established in this valley bottom and a small Rowan tree (Sorbus aucuparia) was found.

Bulbous Rush (Juncus bulbosus)
Climbing out of the Clough and heading back towards the car park, we entered a new tetrad noting again all the common species previously encountered with the exception of Hare's-tail Cotton-grass (Eriophorum vaginatum) which proved to be elusive. We discussed how the Mat-grass (Nardus stricta) was able to establish itself because the sheep do not eat it. Next a Sheep's Sorrel (Rumex acetosella) was found, but a Hawkweed sp. (Hieracium sp.) proved more difficult, along with a Ragwort sp. (Senecio sp.), being either Common or Oxford, but we were unable to identify on site which one.

On reaching the road we entered the final tetrad, and searching along the road-side ditch we found totally different species to those previously encountered. These consisted of the large leaves of Colt's-foot (Tussilago farfara) with many Marsh Orchids (Dactylorhiza sp.) now in seed and which will require a closer look next spring for a positive ID. Also Meadow Buttercup (Ranunculus acris), Marsh Horsetail (Equisetum palustre) and a Sowthistle (Sonchus sp.).

Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza  sp.)
The survey was completed for a little after 4pm with early indications of a satisfactory result regarding improving the species count in several tetrads. This brings to a close our outings for this season.

We have a suggestion for the plant found growing in the stream as Bulbous Rush (Juncus bulbosus) which was accepted.

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 Crane's-bill (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 once rare but is now becoming more widespread.

Rye Brome (Bromus secalinus)
Along the field edge we found Cut-leaved Crane's-bill (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 (Carex otrubae) 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, Bird's-foot-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 Marsh-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), a Butterfly-bush (Buddleja  sp.) 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 Bird's-foot-trefoil(Lotus pedunculatus).

We now approached the waters edge finding Bulrush (Typha latifolia) and Bristle Club-rush (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 (Solidago canadensis), we found instead Early Goldenrod (S. 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 Colt's-foot (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 Hare's-foot Clover (Trifolium arvense) in full flower.

Hare's-foot 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 (Juncus articulatus).

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.