Saturday 31 October 2015

Botanising in The Yorkshire Dales

On our recent trip up north we spent a day botanising in the Ribblesdale and Wensleydale areas of the Yorkshire dales. I saw quite a collection of new plants and here are a few of them, along with a couple of ones I've seen lots of times before but were so nice I had to photograph them.

This limestone pavement in Ribblesdale was superb for wildflowers.
As you can see the weather wasn't so good and that is Pen-y-ghent brooding in the background.

Harebell - Campanula rotundifolia

Lesser Meadow Rue - Thalictrum minus

Melancholy Thistle - Cirsium helenioides

Chickweed Willowherb - Epilobium alsinifolium

 Knotted Pearlwort - Sagina nodosa

 Bird's-eye Primrose - Primula farinosa
I was very lucky to see this in flower in August (usually flowers in May/June)

Hairy Stonecrop - Sedum villosum

We also visited Seata Quarry nature reserve the single site in the UK for Round-leaved St. John's-wort - Hypericum nummularium.


Round-leaved St. John's-wort - Hypericum nummularium.

Seata Quarry

Fairy Foxglove - Erinus alpinus

More Harebells because you can't see too many Harebells!

It was surprising to see Fragrant Orchids still in full flower in August.
We visited the quarry at gone six o'clock in the evening and the Common Blues were going to roost.

Common Blue

Red Gooseberry - Ribes uva-crispa
(obviously an escape from cultivation) 

Sand Leek - Allium scorodoprasum

Friday 30 October 2015

Smardale Gill

Back at the very start of August we went on an excursion up north for a few days, mainly botanising obviously but I also got to see two new butterflies and a new dragonfly. The butterflies were both seen at Smardale Gill in Cumbria. It's somewhere I've wanted to visit for ages and I have to say it was even better than it looks in all the lovely photos I've seen of it. Unfortunately we were a bit too early for Scotch Argus and a bit late for Northern Brown Argus to see either of them in good numbers but luckily during a very brief sunny interlude on an otherwise dull day I did manage to see and photograph both. Definitely one of the highlights of my year. I'd like to return one day when the Scotch Argus are out in good numbers it must be a superb sight! The new dragonfly was in Teesdale along with some amazing new plants, a post about which is imminent (the way I'm performing though, that'll probably be weeks!)

Smardale Gill with the only bit of blue sky we saw in three days!

Scotch Argus

Northern Brown Argus 
Rather faded unfortunately but I was lucky to see one. 

Giant Tachinid Fly - Tachina grossa.

 Bloody Cranesbill - Geranium sanguineum

Great Burnet - Sanguisorba officinalis

Thursday 22 October 2015

South Devon Botanising

Back in July and August we took a few trips to South Devon looking for three or four rare plants in particular. First we went to Plymouth Waterfront to see Field Eryngo a rare plant in the UK which has been growing wild in the Plymouth area for several hundred years.

Sign illustrating the interesting flora of the waterfront. We saw the Plymouth Campion too, although it was in seed, but didn't have any luck with the Plymouth Thistle ( one to try for again next year perhaps)

Field Eryngo - Eryngium campestre

A few other plants photographed in the area which aren't rare at all were...

Black Nightshade - Solanum nigrum

 Pellitory-of-the-wall - Parietaria officinalis

White Stonecrop - Sedum album

Then on to Slapton Lee famously Britain's only site for Strapwort. It's a tiny insignificant looking plant and very hard to spot until you 'get your eye in' but close up the flowers are quite pretty really.

That's it, there! Sprawling around in the centre of the photo.

Strapwort - Corrigiola litoralis

Common water-crowfoot - Ranunculus aquatilis

Keeled Skimmer - Orthetrum coerulescens

Then in early August a trip to Dartmoor to look for the rare Flax-leaved St John's wort which is a fussy plant and has very particular habitat requirements, explaining its rarity and limited range. It needs plenty of space with few other competitive plants nearby, and acidic soils in warm areas. Steep rocky slopes exposed to the sun are ideal and there are quite a few sites like this on Dartmoor. The one we visited was near Castle Drogo.

The plant was growing on the tops of the rocky outcrop in this photo which was south facing and very warm and was a magnet for butterflies especially Wall Browns.

Wall Brown - Lasiommata megera

Closer view of the habitat. With Flax-leaved St John's wort plants in the left foreground.

On a background of Map Lichen - Rhizocarpon geographicum

Flax-leaved St John's wort - Hypericum linariifolium

 The warm bare rocks and thin soils were also ideal for this lovely little plant 

Sand Spurrey - Spergularia rubra

Then in late August a trip to Warleigh Point near Plymouth to see another rare Hypericum, this time Wavy-leaved St John's Wort a plant which favours damp waterlogged locations and is only found in Cornwall, and a couple of places in Devon and South Wales.

The wavy leaves unique to this species of St John's wort.

Wavy-leaved St John's Wort - Hypericum undulatum

And finally a local find was this striking white form of Herb Robert in Shute Woods.

Herb Robert - Geranium robertianum