Wednesday 1 February 2023

Denby Delf

Denby Delf 
Friday 24th June 
Leader: Kay McDowell 

We met on the lane just to the east of Upper Denby, which at about 600ft above sea level meant we were able to admire the fine views to the north over the local countryside. It was not quite as hot as the previous couple of days, but it was still warm, sunny and humid with a slight breeze. Skylark (Alauda arvensis), white throat (Sylvia communis) and yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella) were seen nearby. 

We walked along the track to the nature reserve which is managed by the Garganey Trust, and headed towards the grassland where adder’s-tongue (Ophioglossum vulgatum) had previously been found. But it was a little late in the season and the grass too long, so we decided it would be better to come back next May. 

Next we came to some oak woodland cloaking a small valley, where we spotted male-fern (Dryopteris filix-mas), then Borrer’s scaly male-fern (Dryopteris affinis ssp. borreri). Further down the hill and under some trees we noticed a large hard fern (Blechnum spicant) and then to the left of us a very large lady-fern (Athyrium filix-femina). Near to this was a lovely golden-scaled male-fern (Dryopteris affinis ssp. affinis). 

We walked through the bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) down through more trees and into an area of grassland. Here we recorded oval sedge (Carex leporina), glaucous sedge (Carex flacca), devil’s-bit scabious (Succisa pratensis), marsh thistle (Cirsium palustre), tufted hair-grass (Deschampsia cespitosa) and compact rush (Juncus conglomeratus). However, we couldn’t find evidence of the pond on the map on the information board at the entrance to the site. But we did find tormentil (Potentilla erecta), zigzag clover (Trifolium medium) and bitter-vetch (Lathyrus linifolius). 

Making our way up the hill we found a bench at the top for lunch. Then we explored part of an old quarry and found rock stonecrop (Petrosedum forsterianum) on the side of a stone wall. I spotted a flowering grass which turned out to be brown bent (Agrostis vinealis). A lovely pink-flowering rose bush caught our attention; Sherard’s downy-rose (Rosa sherardii). Next, we went through the gate into another quarry and saw a barn owl (Tyto alba) fly off. We cautiously explored the old quarry and saw a red stemmed lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina). 

Athyrium filix femina

Then went into the meadow, which is also part of the site. Lots of common spotted-orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii) made a nice scene. We examined a tall fescue (Schedonorus arundinaceus) or was it meadow fescue (S.pratensis)? The auricles weren’t large enough for tall fescue, so we looked for other characters such as hairs on the auricles, the number of spikelets on the lowest flower, and whether the leaves were rough or smooth, but we still couldn’t pin it down, maybe it was an agricultural variety? 

Common spotted orchid

It is always good to have a difficult puzzle to stretch our brains, and reminded ourselves that plants don’t read books!

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