Back to the Index page

Trip to East Moors 11th June 2002

[Species lists below]

There were about 30 people on this trip which was most encouraging. This was a joint expedition with the U3A and we were pleased to welcome many new faces. After meeting at Cow House Bank we were taken on a mystery tour through the forest and emerged out onto the moor just north of the escarpment. The main focus of the evening was an area of unimproved fields on the east-facing slopes above Bonfield Gill, consisting mostly of traditional hayfield species but with much wetter conditions on the lower-lying ground near the beck where there were a good number of interesting wetland species.

people walking to site
The party walking to the hayfield

We were lucky with the weather and the moors were looking particularly attractive in the clear evening light. However, we were less impressed by the voracious midges which emerged as the sun went down.

We only recorded a handful of bird species, many of them heard rather than seen (notably the curlews that were “bubbling” all around us). The highlight was the two woodcock roding as we walked back to the cars in the fading light.

identifying sedges

We did rather better on the plants, recording over 80 species, most of them plants in flower. We were led by the wonderful double act of Don Buckle and Gordon Simpson who managed to identify everything with great expertise, even the half dozen or so sedges which to the untutored eye were all remarkably similar. Even more impressively, they showed the rest of us how to separate the different species, and made it all seem so much simpler than the books. (See the picture left, where Gordon is holding a masterclass in sedge identification.)

botanists examining small flowers
The upper part of the field was a hay meadow, with many of the characteristic species such as yellow rattle, pignut, lady’s mantle, milkmaids and various grasses, and also several common spotted orchids (left) and one or two heath spotted orchids. spotted orchid Indeed it was an interesting meadow because it seemed to have species one would normally associate with rather acidic conditions such as these heath spotted orchids growing close to lime-loving species such as quaking grass. I suspect that the soil was fairly neutral with mineral-rich seepages. Many of the flowers we saw were very tiny, growing in amongst the grasses – which led to a lot of stooping and bending down for a closer look (right).

The lower parts of the fields were marshy, with rushes, sedges (8 different species overall plus the sedge-like Eleocharis quinqueflora and Blysmus compressus, the latter (Flat Sedge) ironically being much the most distinctive “sedge” we saw. As well as fragrant water mint (not yet in flower) and horsetails we saw interesting wetland species such as marsh valerian (past its best) and butterwort. This is an insectivorous plant whose rosette of yellowish-green leaves rather like a starfish act as natural flypaper, trapping insects which the plant uses to supplement its mineral intake. It usually grows in acid conditions among sphagnum mosses. It produces attractive violet-like flowers (left).butterwort It was also good to see ragged robin thriving; it used to be common everywhere in Ryedale wherever there was a damp corner, but so much farmland has been “improved” that it is now much less frequently seen. The specimens here were particularly fine (below).

ragged robin

This was a most enjoyable and informative evening and the RNHS is most grateful to Don Buckle and Gordon Simpson for leading the trip, and teaching us so much.

Species Lists

These lists are not exhaustive; I noted down the plants that I saw but may have missed some, especially grasses or species that were not in flower. The fact that even so there are 83 plants on the list shows how rich this area is. Thanks to Jim Pewtress for the bird list.

English Name Latin Name
Bedstraw, heath Galium saxatile
Bedstraw, marsh Galium palustre
Birch, silver Betula verrucosa
Birdsfoot trefoil Lotus corniculatus
Birdsfoot trefoil, marsh or greater (leaf) Lotus pedunculatus
Bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta
Bog Pimpernel (leaf) Anagallis tenella
Bracken (fern) Pteridium aquilinum
Bugle Ajuga reptans
Buttercup, creeping Ranunculus repens
Buttercup, meadow Ranunculus acris
Butterwort Pinguicula vulgaris
Catsear, common (leaf) Hypochaeris radicata
Chickweed, common Stellaria media
Clover, red Trifolium pratense
Clover, white Trifolium repens
Cowslip Primula veris
Daisy Bellis perennis
Daisy, dog or moon Leucanthemum vulgare
Dock, broad-leaved Rumex obtusifolius
Eyebright Euphrasia officinalis agg.
(probably E. nemorosa)
Forget-me-not, changing Myosotis discolor
Foxglove (leaf) Digitalis purpurea
Hay or Yellow Rattle Rhinanthus cristo-galli
Hogweed (leaf) Heracleum sphondylium
Horsetail, field or common Equisetum arvense
Horsetail, marsh Equisetum palustre
Knapweed, lesser (leaf) Centaurea nigra
Lady’s Mantle Alchemilla glabra
Lesser Spearwort (leaf) Ranunculus flammula
Marsh pennywort Hydrocotyle vulgaris
Marsh Thistle Cirsium palustre
Mayweed (leaf, probably scentless) Triplospermum maritimum
Milkmaid or Cuckoo-flower Cardamine pratensis
Mint, water (leaf) Mentha aquatica
Mouse-ear chickweed, common Cerastium holosteoides (=C. fontanum)
Mouse-ear chickweed, sticky Cerastium glomeratum
Nettle Urtica dioica
Orchid, common spotted Dactylorchis fuchsii
Orchid, heath spotted Dactylorchis maculata
Pignut Conopodium majus
Plantain, ratstail Plantago major
Ragged Robin Lychnis flos-cuculi
Rowan Sorbus aucuparia
Rush, compact or clustered Juncus conglomeratus
Rush, hard Juncus inflexus
Rush, soft Juncus effusus
Self Heal Prunella vulgaris
Sorrel, common Rumex acetosa
Speedwell, Germander Veronica chamaedrys
Spike-rush, ? few-flowered Eleocharis quinqueflora
Stitchwort, bog Stellaria alsine
Stitchwort, lesser Stellaria graminea
Sundew (?) Drosera rotundifolia
Trefoil, yellow Trifolium dubium
Valerian, marsh Valeriana dioica
Vetch, tufted (leaf) Vicia cracca
Wood sorrel (leaf) Oxalis acetosella
Alder Alnus glutinosa
Bird Cherry (no flowers) Prunus padus
Hawthorn Crataegus monogyna
Holly Ilex aquifolium
Sycamore Acer pseudoplanatus
Crested Dogstail Cynosurus cristatus
Meadow-grass, annual Poa annua
Meadow-grass, smooth Poa pratensis
Quaking Grass Briza media
Red Fescue Festuca rubra
Rye grass Lolium perenne
Sheep’s Fescue Festuca ovina
Soft Brome Bromus mollis agg.
Sweet vernal Grass Anthoxanthemum odoratum
Tufted Hairgrass Deschampsia cespitosa
Yorkshire Fog Holcus lanatus
Flat sedge Blysmus compressus
Sedge, carnation Carex panicea
Sedge, common or black Carex nigra
Sedge, flea Carex pulicaris
Sedge, glaucous Carex flacca
Sedge, long-stalked yellow Carex lepidocarpa
Sedge, oval Carex ovalis
Sedge, pale Carex pallescens
Sedge, star Carex echinata

I did not record the sundew myself. Also recorded were fungal infections similar to rust on nettle and (broad-leaved) dock, and some interesting galls. Gordon has identified these for us:

  1. Eriophyes padi a gall on the upper leaf surface of Bird Cherry (Prunus padus), caused by a mite.
  2. Eriophyes leavis a gall scattered randomly on the upper leaf surface of Alder (Alnus glutinosa), also caused by a mite.

We only recorded 11 birds, but on the way back to the farm we saw and heard two woodcock roding (together, which is unusual; perhaps this was the boundary between two territories?)
Species recorded were: Curlew, Black-headed Gull, Woodpigeon, Meadow Pipit, Swallow, Robin, Wren, Blackbird, Rook, Woodcock and Chaffinch.

Other animals
Hedgehog and Common Frog.


Back to the Index page

© Ryedale Natural History Society 2002; Pictures © Adrian Smith 2002; Gill Smith (spotted orchid and butterwort)
Page last modified 26th June 2002