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Low Carr Farm 22nd June 2016

led by Ken Hutchinson

Plant list below

Sunset with cows

A warm summer’s evening provided 12 members with the perfect weather for a walk around Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s farm near Pickering. By a remarkable coincidence the farm was bequeathed to the Trust exactly 16 years to the date of the event on the 22nd of June 2000. At a little under 45 hectares, almost all the holding is permanent grassland, managed as cattle/sheep pasture or hay meadow. The modest improvements to the meadows over the years, with no fertiliser inputs other than occasional farm muck, has resulted in some magnificent hay meadows that are at their best in late June. The extensive botanical list below is confirmation of this rich floristic treasure trove that is now rare in the Vale of Pickering. Beyond the meadows lies Costa Beck, a calcareous stream fed by springs at Keld Head near Pickering. The Carrs alongside the beck consist of rough grassland that would have been flooded in winter prior to the Costa being canalised in the early 60s. The old meander channels are still visible and now form damp areas that support diverse plant communities favouring permanently wet conditions. The farm is in High Level Stewardship.


The site is primarily used by the Trust as a holding place for a variety of cattle and sheep that are used on many of its reserves to control vegetation. Walking around the fields there were large flocks of Hebridean sheep that we were told would be off to reserves soon, also White Park and Highland cattle; the later happy to allow members to touch them despite their fierce looking horns.

Hebridean sheep

White Parl cow

In mid-July the hay meadows are cut and the haylage sold, providing a modest income that helps towards the running of the farm. The Trust’s farm manager, Ellen Fairbank, was on hand to tell us of the work of the farm and to guide us around the land, explaining the balance between running a commercial farm while maintaining a strong conservation brief. We are most grateful to Ellen for allowing us to visit the farm and freely giving her time.

Crested dogstail and meadow barley

Crested dogstail and Meadow barley grasses (above)
Barn owl box and Blood-vein moth (right)

Barn owl box
Blood-vein moth

Not surprising is the rather ‘thin’ bird list. Late June is a somewhat quiet period for song birds though the following were recorded around the farm during the visit. Blackbird, Robin, Wood Pigeon, Rook, Wren, Willow Warbler, Buzzard, Chiffchaff, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Yellowhammer, Swallow, Swift, Whitethroat. We did not see the owls, but we did see the barn owl box in a large tree.

Plant list

It was interesting to see such an old-fashioned hayfield, all too rare these days. A particular gem for me was the Meadow Barley, a plant I’ve not seen before. I believe this is right at its northern limit in Britain. If we had had more time I would like to have explored the wet areas down by the river further: I suspect there are many more plants such as sedges growing there that we did not explore fully.[Ed]

Latin nameCommon name
Ajuga reptansBugle
Alliaria petiolataHedge Garlic or Jack by the Hedge
Alopecurus geniculatusFoxtail, Marsh
? Alopecurus myosuroidesFoxtail, Slender
Alopecurus pratensisFoxtail, Meadow
Anthoxanthum odoratumSweet Vernal Grass
Anthriscus sylvestrisCow parsley
Arctium minusBurdock
Arrhenatherum elatiusOat, False
Bellis perennisDaisy
Bromus mollis (Bromus hordeaceus)Brome, Soft
Cardamine pratensisCuckoo flower or Milkmaid
Carex flaccaGlaucous sedge
Carex ovalisOval sedge
? Carex pallescensPale sedge
Carex paniceaCarnation sedge
Carex viridulaYellow sedge
Centaurea nigraKnapweed, common
Cerastium fontanumMouse ear, common
Chaerophyllum temulemRough chervil
Cirsium arvenseThistle, creeping
Cirsium palustreThistle, marsh
Cirsium vulgareThistle, spear
Corylus avellanaHazel
Crataegus monogynaHawthorn
Cruciata laevipesCrosswort
Cynosurus cristatusCrested Dogstail
Dactylis glomerataCocksfoot
Deschampsia caespitosaHair Grass, Tufted
Eleocharis palustrisSpike-rush, common
Epilobium hirsutumWillowherb, great
? Epilobium tetragonumWillowherb, square-stalked
Festuca rubraFescue, Red
Fraxinus excelsiorAsh
Galium aparineCleavers
Galium palustreBedstraw, marsh
Geranium robertianumHerb robert
Glechoma hederaceaFlote-grass
Glyceria sp.Ground ivy
Heracleum sphondyliumHogweed
Holcus lanatusYorkshire Fog
Hordeum secalinumBarley, Meadow
? Juncus articulatusJointed Rush
Juncus conglomeratusCompact Rush
Juncus effususSoft Rush
Juncus inflexusHard Rush
Leucanthemum vulgare Oxeye daisy or Dog Daisy
Lolium perenneRye Grass, Perennial
Malus sylvestrisCrab apple
Myosotis laxaForgetmenot, tufted
Persicaria amphibiaBistort, amphibious
Phalaris arundinaceaReed Grass
Phleum pratenseTimothy
Plantago lanceolataPlantain, ribwort
Plantago majorPlantain, greater
Poa annuaMeadow Grass, Annual
Poa trivialisMeadow Grass, Rough
Potentilla anserinaSilverweed
Potentilla reptansCinquefoil, creeping
Prunella vulgarisSelf heal
Prunus aviumWild cherry
Prunus domesticaWild plum
Prunus spinosaBlackthorn
Quercus sp.Oak
Ranunculus acrisButtercup, meadow
Ranunculus flammulaSpearwort, lesser
Ranunculus repensButtercup, creeping
Rhinanthus minor Yellow rattle
Rosa caninaRose, dog
Rubus fruticosusBramble
Rumex acetosaSorrel, common
Rumex crispusDock, curled
Rumex obtusifoliusDock, broad leaved
Rumex sanguineusDock, wood
Salix sp.Willow, probably hybrid between crack and bay
Sambucus nigraElder
Solanum dulcamaraBittersweet
Stachys sylvaticaWoundwort, hedge
Taraxacum sp.Dandelion
Trifolium dubiumTrefoil, lesser
Trifolium pratenseClover, red
Trifolium repensClover, white
Typha latifoliaReedmace, common
Ulmus glabraElm, wych
Urtica dioicaNettle, common
Vicia craccaVetch, tufted
Vicia sepiumVetch, bush

© Ryedale Natural History Society 2016. Photos © Gill Smith, David Lewis 2016 Back to the Home page