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Fordon Bank 25th June 2017

Notes by Gill Smith

(Species lists below)

This was a joint meeting with Hull Natural History Society and the YNU and I am very grateful to Richard Middleton for sharing the plant list with us. Only a handful of Ryenats members managed to make the trip which was a real shame as we saw many wonderful plants and insects. There were numerous marbled white butterflies, and huge numbers of burnet moths on the blue and purple flowers such as scabious and knapweed.

View of meadow

This was a repeat visit for us as we last went to the magical chalk bank at Fordon back in 2004 - see the write-up here.. As the write-up of the previous trip covers the geology, setting and general impressions, I think I will just show some photos and mention a few highlights. The outstanding find as far as the botanists were concerned was Frog orchid Coeloglossum viride which I believe has been recently reclassified as Dactylorhiza viridis, i.e. in the same genus as spotted orchids, which seems odd to me but I am not an orchid specialist. Below are three photos of this remarkable orchid. I was a bit surprised at how small they were, mostly under 6" tall.

Frog orchid Coeloglossum viride Frog orchid Coeloglossum viride Frog orchid Coeloglossum viride detail

Perhaps of specialist interest only, but we saw a variety of fumitories. After much debate and careful analysis of specimens we determined three different species, viz:
Fumaria officinalis
- the common version medium sized dark flowers (c8mm), clearly-visible stipule (c2mm)

Fumaria parviflora
- white flowers with a dark tip (c6mm), stipule insignificant (c0.5mm), leaves narrow and curved into a channel. Bract almost as long as fruiting pedicel.

Fumaria vaillantii
- flowers pink but otherwise similar to F. parviflora with an even smaller stipule. Leaves not noticably channelled but rather pale/glaucus looking. Bract only half or less the length of the fruiting pedicel. Plant rather straggly and weedy with about 8 florets per raceme.
(Thanks to Richard Middleton)

Other interesting plants included small-flowered buttercup which was very hard to photograph, field woundwort. field mouse-ear, small scabious, knotted hedge parsley and the leaves of green-winged orchids that had finished flowering.


A selection of the species we saw, including marbled white butterflies, Venus’s looking glass, burnet moths on scabious, clustered bellflower, common rockrose, field pansy and an unusually marked field bindweed.

Marbled white butterfly Venus' Looking Glass Legousia speculum-veneris Burnet moths on scabious Clustered bellflower Campanula glomerata Rockrose Helianthemum nummularium Field pansy Viola arvensis Field bindweed Convolvulus arvensis Marbled white butterfly

Species lists

Please see the list from Hull Natural History Society
here (downloadable PDF file).

Red Admiral
Small Tortoiseshell
Meadow Brown
Small Skipper
Large Skipper
Brown Argus
Common Blue
Marbled White
Small Heath
Small White

Straw Dot
Brown Plume

Broad-bodied Chaser

Willow Warbler
Yellow Hammer
Thanks to Keith Gittens for the insect and bird records

© Ryedale Natural History Society 2017, Photos © Keith Gittens, Gill Smith 2017 Back to the Home page