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Bull Ings, Cropton – June 27th 2012

species lists below

view of orchids in meadowA beautiful evening, despite the potential for rain, welcomed 10 participants to this meeting at 6.30pm. It took on a slightly different form in that we were visiting a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) specifically for the flora and not taking a circular walk. The orchids did not disappoint although there was a lack of butterflies. Due to the nature of this walk individuals were able to leave as they desired, with most having concluded by 8.30pm. The three botanists reluctantly finished at 10pm.

Bull Ings SSSI consists of two pastures which offer a full range of flora, including four types of orchid. It is damp in places, very dry in others and is acidic in part and calcareous elsewhere. It has something to offer throughout the flowering season with a good show of primrose and cowslip early on, orchids now and devils bit scabious, betony, common knapweed, greater burnet and pepper-saxifrage, to name but a few, later on. Sedges and grasses also do well here. In good weather it is a haven for butterflies.

hoary plantain Plantago media common twayblade Listera ovata=Neottia ovata

We did not record flora en route to the site but it is worth mentioning the hoary plantain (right) which grows on the west verge at the top of Cropton Bank, opposite the small green. There are plenty of spikes here in a small area of limestone. Its flowers are a rather delicate pink-mauve and much more showy than ribwort or greater plantain. Although not rare it is uncommon in this area.

At the SSSI the abundance of common spotted orchid is quite a spectacle. What is less obvious is the presence of common twayblade (left), though both orchids must number in their hundreds. Early purple orchid is far less in number, no more than ten, and all were over flowering on this visit.

common spotted orchids Dactylorhiza fuchsii dark specimen of common spotted orchid Dactylorhiza fuchsii

The common spotted orchid can vary considerably in colour and size. Most often they are a pale pink (as shown left below) but we did find some almost white specimens and others that were very dark. The one shown right below is very dark with pale edging as all the central spots and lines have coalesced. This plant also had leaves so heavily spotted they appeared dark purple with small green patches.

What is particularly special at this site is the bee orchids (see below), which were just coming into flower with plenty of buds yet to open. We counted 20 spikes, 18 in one location and two more at two other sites in the fields. There are potentially more but they are very hard to see when still in bud. A further visit will give a more accurate number. This does seem to be a good year for bee orchids, despite the cool, wet summer so far.

bee orchid Ophrys apifera (flower spike) bee orchid Ophrys apifera (detail)

Common knapweed, betony, greater burnet and devils bit scabious were all in bud and very abundant. Again these will be a pleasure to see when in flower. We did find the leaves of pepper-saxifrage but none of the yellow umbels were evident as this is also a late flowerer. It is rare in this area but gives quite a good show at this site.

On this visit we were able to add quite a few additions to the already comprehensive list of species here. One good find was flea sedge adding to pale, tawny, carnation, wood, spring and glaucous sedges already recorded. Another good find was about eight spikes of yellow rattle, previously unrecorded here. Only five minutes before finding it, one botanist happened to remark that yellow rattle ought to be present given the other flora seen.

Grasses include predominantly quaking grass, downy and false oatgrass, tufted hairgrass and crested dogstail. Meadow and red fescue is also found here.

Species lists

The following birds were recorded during the evening. Many thanks to Ken for the list. Wren, blackbird, chaffinch, starling, house sparrow, swallow, house martin, swift, goldcrest, song thrush, greenfinch, wood pigeon, chiffchaff, yellowhammer, skylark, crow, rook, jay, jackdaw, garden warbler, blue tit and pied wagtail.

Flora recorded at this site, totalling 108.

English nameLatin name
AgrimonyAgrimonia eupatoria
Anemone,woodAnemone nemorosa
Angelica,wildAngelica sylvestris
Avens,waterGeum rivale
Avens,woodGeum urbanum
Bedstraw,ladysGalium verum
BetonyStachys officinalis
Birdsfoot trefoil,commonLotus corniculatus
BlackthornPrunus spinosa
Bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta
BrambleRubus fruticosus agg.
BrooklimeVeronica beccabunga
BugleAjuga reptans
Burdock,lesserArctium sp
Burnet,greatSanguisorba officinalis
Burnet,saladSanguisorba minor
Buttercup,meadowRanunculus acris
Campion,redSilene dioica
CatsearHypochaeris radicata
Cinquefoil,creepingPotentilla reptans
CleaversGalium aparine
Clover,redTrifolium pratense
Clover,whiteTrifolium repens
Clover,zig-zagTrifolium medium
Cow parsleyAnthriscus sylvestris
CowslipPrimula veris
Cranesbill,meadowGeranium pratense
CrosswortCruciata laevipes
Cuckooflower Cardamine pratensis
Daisy,commonBellis perennis
Daisy,oxeyeLeucanthemum vulgare
DandelionTaraxacum agg.
Dock,woodRumex sanguineus
Fairy flax Linum catharticum
Forget-me-not,fieldMyosotis arvensis
grass,false oatgrassArrhenatherum elatius
grass,cocksfootDactylis glomerata
grass,crested dogstailCynosurus cristatus
grass,downy oatgrassHelictotrichon pubescens
grass,meadow fescueFestuca pratensis
grass,meadow foxtailAlopecurus pratensis
grass,perennial ryegrassLolium perenne
grass,quakingBriza media
grass,red fescueFestuca rubra
grass,rough meadowgrassPoa trivialis
grass,sweet vernal Anthoxanthum odoratum
grass,tufted hairgrassDeschampsia caespitosa
grass,wavy hairgrassDeschampsia flexuosa
grass,Yorkshire-fogHolcus lanatus
Guelder-roseViburnum opulus
HarebellCampanula rotundifolia
Hawkbit,roughLeontodon hispidus
Hawkweed,mouse-earPilosella officinarum
HawthornCrataegus monogyna
Herb robertGeranium robertianum
HogweedHeracleum sphondylium
HoneysuckleLonicera periclymenum
Horsetail,fieldEquisetum arvense
Knapweed,commonCentaurea nigra
Lady's mantleAlchemilla sp
Lords-and-ladies Arum maculatum
MeadowsweetFilipendula ulmaria
Medick,blackMedicago lupulina
Mercury,dogsMercurialis perennis
Milkwort,commonPolygala vulgaris
Orchid,beeOphrys apifera
Orchid,common spottedDactylorhiza fuchsii
Orchid,early purpleOrchis mascula
Pepper-saxifrageSilaum silaus
PignutConopodium majus
Plantain,ribwortPlantago lanceolata
PrimrosePrimula vulgaris
Ragwort,commonSenecio jacobaea
Red bartsiaOdontites vernus
Rose spRosa agg.
Rush,compactJuncus conglomeratus
Rush,hardJuncus inflexus
Rush,jointedJuncus articulatus
Rush,softJuncus effusus
Rush,toadJuncus bufonius
Scabious,devilsbitSuccisa pratensis
Sedge,carnationCarex panicea
Sedge,fleaCarex pulicaris
Sedge,glaucousCarex flacca
Sedge,paleCarex pallescens
Sedge,springCarex caryophyllea
Sedge,tawnyCarex hostiana
Sedge,woodCarex sylvatica
SelfhealPrunella vulgaris
Sorrel,commonRumex acetosa
Speedwell,germanderVeronica chamaedrys
Speedwell,heathVeronica officinalis
St. Johnswort,hairyHypericum hirsutum
St. Johnswort,slenderHypericum pulchrum
Stitchwort,greaterStellaria holostea
Stitchwort,lesserStellaria graminea
Thistle,creepingCirsium arvense
Thistle,marshCirsium palustre
TormentilPotentilla erecta
Twayblade,commonListera ovata
Valerian,marshValeriana dioica
Vetch,bitterLathyrus linifolius
Vetch,tuftedVicia cracca
Vetchling,meadowLathyrus pratensis
Violet,common dogViola riviniana
WoodruffGalium odoratum
YarrowAchillea millefolium
Yellow rattleRhinanthus minor

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