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Costa Beck July 11th 2006

led by Nan Sykes, Gill Smith & Jim Pewtress

This was an evening trip, a gentle stroll down the Costa Beck from its source at Keldhead near Pickering. 14 members turned up at 7:30, on a lovely sunny summer’s evening. Tom Denney was unable to lead the trip as planned (due to a family wedding) so Jim Pewtress, Nan Sykes and Gill Smith stepped into the breach, Jim for the birds and Gill and Nan for the plants. Stupidly I forgot to take a camera! Tom came to my rescue with some photos taken a few days later....

Keld Head Pond Keld Head Pond, with overhanging willow trees, Himalayan balsam in the foreground, and water speedwell growing in the water to the left.

Keldhead is a large pond fed by a natural spring (“keld” is of course the old Norse word for a spring), and the beautifully clear water then flows over a small waterfall and south across the Vale of Pickering on its way to the Rye near Malton, in a canalised channel. We followed it down for about half a mile, to the point at which it enters a trout farm, and then walked back along the lane to the east of Keldhead There is some marshy land along the banks, but mostly the beck runs through farmland. There is an interesting variety of habitats, from open water and bankside vegetation through wetland and damp fields to scrubby woodland along the beck, and old hedges and roadside verges on the return leg, plus a new plantation of trees which has been established as a small wildlife reserve.

There were no particularly unusual plants (the list below is probably not complete!) but I was pleased to see blue water speedwell – which was much bigger and bushier than usual at a good 3' tall. There was also a good show of water forget-me-not along the edges of the beck, and a number of willows which seemed to be hybrids. The wetter areas had reedmace, reeds, tall grasses and sedges along with yellow flag iris and osiers. I was much less pleased to see quite a spread of the invasive Himalayan Balsam around the pond on the main road side.

For the birders there were sedge warblers and reed buntings in one of the larger marshy areas, as well as two herons. A number of gulls flew over, as well as swallows and swifts. There were the usual farm- and woodland birds in the hedges and trees.

View of Costa Beck with bridgeView of Costa Beck with one of the footbridges.



Grey heron, Coot, Mallard, Swallow, Swift, House Martin, Blackbird,Chaffinch,Starling,Wood Pigeon, Carrion Crow, Rook, Reed Bunting, Green Woodpecker, Sedge Warbler, Linnet, Wren, Herring Gull, Black-headed Gull, Magpie, Canada Goose, Greenfinch, Willow Warbler, Lapwing, Yellowhammer, Goldfinch, Pied Wagtail, Whitethroat, Sparrowhawk, (and possibly Grasshopper Warbler heard).
[Thanks to Jim for the list.]


Small Skipper, Small Tortoiseshell, Ringlet, Meadow Brown. The picture (right) shows what I think is a comma butterfly, taken a week later.


Botanical Name
English Name
Acer campestre Maple, field
Alnus glutinosa Alder
Anthriscus sylvestris Cow parsley
Arrhenatherum elatius False Oat
Atriplex patula Orache
Bellis perennis Daisy
Berula erecta? Lesser water parsnip
Calamagrostis epigejos Bush Grass
Conium maculatum Hemlock
Cornus sanguinea Dogwood
Crataegus monogyna Hawthorn
Crepis capillaris Hawksbeard, smooth
Cynosurus cristatus Crested Dogstail
Dactylis glomerata Cocksfoot
Epilobium ciliatum Willowherb, American
Epilobium hirsutum Willowherb, Great
Fagus sylvatica Beech
Filipendula ulmaria Meadowsweet
Geranium pratense Cranesbill, meadow
Heracleum sphondylium `weed
Hypericum sp. St Johnswort, probably H. perforata
Impatiens glandulifera Balsam, Himalayan
Iris pseudacorus Yellow Iris or Flag
Lathyrus pratensis Meadow vetchling
Lotus pedunculatus Birdsfoot trefoil, Greater
Malva sylvestris Mallow, common
Mercurialis perennis Dog’s mercury
Myosotis scorpioides Forget-me-not, water
Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum Watercress, common
Phleum pratense Timothy Grass
Phragmites communis Reed
Potentilla reptans Cinquefoil, creeping
Prunus spinosa Blackthorn
Quercus sp. Oak
Ranunculus acris Buttercup, meadow
Ranunculus repens Buttercup, creeping
Ribes rubrum Redcurrant
Ribes uva-crsipa Gooseberry
Rosa canina Rose, dog
Rosa sp Rose, possibly multiflora, in planted woodland
Rumex acetosa Sorrel, common
Rumex crispus Dock, curled
Rumex obtusifolius Dock, broad leaved
Rumex sanguineus Dock, wood
Salix caprea Willow, goat
Salix cinerea Willow, grey
Salix fragilis Willow, crack
Salix pentandra Willow, bay
Salix viminalis Willow, osier
Salix hybrids** Willows**
Scrophularia auriculata Figwort, water
Taraxacum sp. Dandelion
Torilis japonica Hedge parsley, upright
Typha latifolia Reedmace, common
Veronica angallis-aquatica Speedwell, water (blue)
Veronica beccabunga Speedwell, brooklime
Veronica chamaedrys Speedwell, germander
Vicia cracca Vetch, tufted

**incl. one with bay and osier in its makeup, and one huge tree, probably bay×crack or bay×white


Gill Smith July 2006 Back to the Index page

© Ryedale Natural History Society 2006 Photos © Tom Denney 2006

th=100%> Gill Smith July 2006 Back to the Index page

© Ryedale Natural History Society 2006 Photos © Tom Denney 2006