Images of some spectacularly early bluebells in flower, together with flowering dog’s mercury, and a feeding small tortoiseshell butterfly taken on 17 March at the Nostell Priory estate woodlands help to show how some of our wildlife are responding to the recent spell of settled, and at times, pleasantly warm weather, especially in the shelter provide by mature woodlands at this time of year.
First colt’s-foot of the year – one plant with three buds just showing yellow on the disused railway line in Outwood. Has anyone else had any yet?
Pauline dropped me a note to say she’d seen the first coltsfoot of spring at Stanley Ferry on 6th March. Coltsfoot is a sure sign that spring is on the way, Walking around Ackworth today, I noticed that lesser celandine was noticeable and in flower on many of the verges. There will be wheatear and chiffchaff in the next few days for sure so keep an eye out and let us know when you see one
It was a bright, sunny day with a hint of autumn for our visit to the vale. Corn sowthistle, rough hawksbit, both black and white bryony, creeping buttercup and cross-wort lined the pathway into the vale. Harebells blew gently amongst the rock rose and cat’s ear with self heal, eyebright, milkwort and tormentil still visible. Three species of gentian – common centaury, yellow-wort and autumn gentian were a pleasure to see. The banking was a sea of blue with three species of scabious – field scabious, small scabious and devil’s bit scabious. After much searching we finally came across the elusive autumn lady’s tresses, a very small member of the orchid family.
The ground was very dry underfoot as we headed straight ahead out of the car park onto a well used path bordered by purple loosestrife and great willowherb mingling with the bright yellow of perennial sow-thistle. Gatekeeper and meadow brown butterflies clung to swaying patches of wild carrot amongst the upright hedge parsley. Coming out onto the main path there were still plenty of flowers to see – the ladies bedstraw was coming to an end but common centaury, meadow vetchling, common fleabane, red bartsia and field scabious were still flourishing. Two species of heather, common and cross leaved were thriving in the rough ground and St John’s wort, ribbed melilot, viper’s bugloss, black medick and teasel edged the path as we turned left back onto the main path towards the car park. Broad-leaved helleborine was found in the same vicinity as previous years and along the path speckled wood butterflies were enjoying the bramble as woody nightshade crept upwards through the tufted vetch, next to three common species of willowherb – hoary, broad-leaved and great willowherb.
I thought members might be interested to know that there is lots of viper’s bugloss growing and flowering at Fitzwilliam, where the City used to be, behind the remaining row of houses. Rubble from the demolished houses is now overgrown but it is still there and it must be quite alkaline because of the mortar. I saw musk thistle in flower there last year. These aren’t plants that I expect to see in Fitzwilliam. How do the seeds get there?