Friday 10 February 2023

Thunderbridge Meadows, Huddersfield

Thunderbridge Meadows, Huddersfield 
Friday 29th April 
Leaders: Louise Hill & Kay McDowell 

The purpose of this field trip was to record species in a nature reserve which we hadn’t previously visited, but had been told it was a good site. Thunderbridge Meadows is a Garganey Trust managed site. 

The site is in a picturesque setting and the weather was nice and clear day for our first meeting of the year. The first find of the day was bitter-vetch (Lathyrus linifolius) which had been spotted near our parked cars next to the bridge where Birks Lane meets Thunder Bridge Lane. 

Bitter Vetch, Thunderbridge 29-04-2022

Meeting at the bridge, we decided to head for the nature reserve and walked adjacent to a beck. We examined a wood forget-me-not (Myosotis sylvatica) for some time, as we tried to figure out whether it was a garden escape or a native wood forget-me-not. We weren’t sure because there was also (Lamiastrum galeobdolon sp. argentatum) nearby which made us think twice about the forget-me-not’s native status. 

Soon we came across another alien species; house holly-fern (Cyrtomium falcatum) whilst looking at lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina). Then we saw some butterbur (Petasites hybridus), the flowers were quite pale and nearly white, maybe bleached by the sun, and not the usual pale pink. We looked at some silky lady’s-mantle (Alchemilla glaucescens) which had been recorded here before. Then we admired a gold scaled male fern (Dryopteris affinis ssp. affinis). 

We found a sunny bank to eat our lunch, it was pleasantly warm sitting in the sunshine. Whilst low to the ground we had a look for adder’s-tongue (Ophioglossum vulgatum) which had been recorded before but we couldn’t find it. We did find grassland species with no flowers yet as it was too early in the year, but with the help of Poland’s ‘Vegetative Key’ book we figured out the differences between burnet-saxifrage (Pimpinella saxifraga) and pepper-saxifrage (Silaum silaus). We thought it was burnet-saxifrage but there was also a chance it could have been pepper-saxifrage too. We also found common bird’s-foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) and devil’s-bit scabious (Succisa pratensis). 

We walked into the meadow, a damp grassland in the bottom of the valley where marsh orchid (Dactylorhiza spp.) had previously been recorded, however, we couldn’t find any leaves. We did find another lady’s-mantle, this time hairy lady’s-mantle (A. filicaulis ssp. vestita). We also saw some fine leaves which turned out to be common cottongrass (Eriophorum angustifolium) with a trigonomous tip. More leaves were examined and confirmed as smooth-stalked sedge (Carex laevigata), another tick on the ‘specials’ list. Wood horsetail (Equisetum sylvaticum) was another nice record. 

Walking up the field, an east-facing sloping bank which was becoming scrubbed over with bramble we saw great burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis). A seepage next to a stone wall produced yellow pimpernel (Lysimachia nemorum), opposite-leaved golden-saxifrage (Chrysosplenium oppositifolium), remote sedge (Carex remota), bog stitchwort (Stellaria alsine) and square-stalked St John’s-wort (Hypericum tetrapterum). 

It was 5pm so we decided to walk back to the cars. We were just saying we hadn’t seen any shield ferns when I spotted a likely candidate in a small stream, it was hard shield-fern (Polystichum aculeatum).

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