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Trip to Bransdale May 10th 2003

[Species lists below]

General view

13 members met on the moor above Moor House at 9:00am on a slightly misty morning. However the mist soon lifted to leave bright clear sun and patchy cumulus cloud blown along by a cool westerly breeze. Tom Denney led us down past a couple of farms, through fields with very inquisitive sheep in them, to the Hodge Beck, then looped around Stork House, down the far side of the valley before crossing back and heading across to the road bridge at Ouse Gill and finally back across the moor to the cars. We were on moorland and moor-foot land with pasture intakes plus wooded streamsides, with bankside oak woodland on acid soils on the west bank of the Hodge Beck and some limited wetter areas. The whole area lies on the Lias shales and overlying sandstones (the picture below shows a small exposure of typical very friable “paper shales” with a pencil for scale).

Paper shale

We saw or heard 35 bird species, and recorded more than 70 plants, including a wonderful display of crab apple blossom. There were also at least two sedges and several mosses which I could not identify, an interesting beetle on a rabbit carcase, one white butterfly and a small whitish moth. The highlights for me were the redstart, pied flycatcher, ring ouzel, whinchat and wheatear, all of which we saw clearly if only briefly. Tom had his telescope, which gave us wonderful views of many of the birds: one of the redstarts which was singing at the top of a small tree, and the whinchats posed particularly nicely for us.

Peewit nest
The very first thing Tom showed us was a peewit’s nest down in the heather. It was very well camouflaged, and it would have been easy to tread on the eggs without paying close attention to where we were walking. There were several pairs of peewits on the moorland and some of the pasture fields but this was the only nest we saw. We did see some very young grouse chicks a little later.

view of back
The area down by the beck (left) was classic pied flycatcher country, with oak trees down by the water and running up the banks in fairly open woodland. We could hear a bird singing as we approached the valley bottom, but it was not until we were above the trees on the other side looking down that we managed to spot him.

As we walked along the valley side the views were superb, with a lovely clear light across the upper dale:


Crab apple
There were some crab apple trees covered in blossom, as seen here (right). Chickweed Wintergreen A little further along the bank we walked through an area of oak woodland with interesting ground flora, including wood sorrel (some of it the pink variety), and a couple of relatively uncommon plants: climbing corydalis Ceratocapnos claviculata and chickweed wintergreen Trientalis europaea, both of which were only just coming into flower. I managed to get a photo of the latter (left).

When we crossed back over the beck a little to the south of Stork House we noticed a concrete dam or weir-like structure. Tom explained that this dated from the time after the war when there were plans to dam the top end of Farndale as a reservoir for Hull Corporation. This weir across Hodge Beck was to gauge the flow as the plans called for pumping water from Bransdale to Farndale – given the size of the ridge between the two dales this seems extraordinary! Most of Bransdale is now under the protection of the National Trust.


Species Lists

My list is not exhaustive, but I still recorded over 70 plants. Jim Pewtress recorded 35 birds seen and/or heard.

BirdwatchersWatching the wheatear!

Red Grouse
Red-legged Partridge
Black-headed Gull
Common Gull
Herring Gull
Stock Dove
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Meadow Pipit
Pied Wagtail
Ring Ouzel
Mistle Thrush
Willow Warbler
Pied Flycatcher
Long-tailed Tit
Marsh Tit
Coal Tit
Blue Tit
Carrion Crow

35 Species

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English Name Latin Name
Ash Fraxinus excelsior
Bell heather Erica cinerea
Bilberry Vaccinium myrtillus
Birch, silver Betula pendula
Bird cherry Prunus padus
Bittercress, wavy Cardamine flexuosa
Blackthorn Prunus spinosa
Bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta
Bracken Pteridium aquilinum
Bramble Rubus fruticosus
Broom Cytisus scoparius
Bugle Ajuga reptans
Buttercup, creeping Ranunculus repens
Celandine, lesser Ranunculus ficaria
Chickweed wintergreen Trientalis europaea
Common Buckler Fern Dryopteris dilatata
Common Polypody Polypodium vulgare
Corydalis, climbing Ceratocapnos claviculata
Crab apple Malus sylvestris
Cross leaved heath Erica tetralix
Crowberry Empetrum nigrum
Cuckoo flower or Milkmaid Cardamine pratensis
Daisy Bellis perennis
Dandelion Taraxacum sp.
Dogs mercury Mercurialis perennis
Foxglove Digitalis purpurea
Golden saxifrage, opposite leaved Chrysosplenium oppositifolium
Hard Fern Blechnum spicant
Hawthorn Crataegus monogyna
Hazel Corylus avellana
Heather Calluna vulgaris
Herb robert Geranium robertianum
Holly Ilex aquifolium
Honeysuckle Lonicera periclymenum
Ivy Hedera helix
Larch Larix sp. (L. decidua)
Lemon-scented or Mountain Fern Oreopteris limbosperma
Male Fern Dryopteris filix-mas
Maple, field Acer campestre
Marsh marigold Caltha palustris
Mat Grass Nardus stricta
Meadow Grass, Annual Poa annua
Milkwort, heath Polygala serpyllifolia
Mouse ear, common Cerastium fontanum
Nettle, common Urtica dioica
Oak Quercus sp.
Plantain, ribwort Plantago lanceolata
Primrose, common Primula vulgaris
Rowan Sorbus aucuparia
Scots pine Pinus sylvestris
Soft Rush Juncus effusus
Sorrel, sheeps Rumex acetosella
Speedwell, germander Veronica chamaedrys
Speedwell, thyme leaved Veronica serpyllifolia
Stitchwort, greater Stellaria holostea
Strawberry, barren Potentilla sterilis
Strawberry, wild Fragaria vesca
Sweet Vernal Grass Anthoxanthum odoratum
Sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus
Thistle, marsh Cirsium palustre
Thistle, spear Cirsium vulgare
Tormentil Potentilla erecta
Trefoil, lesser Trifolium dubium
Violet, common dog Viola riviniana
Violet, early dog or Wood dog Viola reichenbachiana
Violet, marsh Viola palustris
Wood sage Teucrium scorodonia
Wood sorrel Oxalis acetosella
Woodrush, field Luzula campestris
Woodrush, great Luzula sylvatica
Woodrush, hairy Luzula pilosa
Yarrow Achillea millefolium

Number of Species = 72 one that I now think was Blinks (Montia fontana).

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© Ryedale Natural History Society 2003; Pictures © Gill Smith 2003
Page last modified 28th May 2003