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North Cave 15 September 2007

led by Tom Denney and Jim Pewtress

Nine members attended this field meeting at North Cave south of Market Weighton in the East Riding. This is a Yorkshire Wildlife Trust reserve, created from old sand and gravel workings (see the YWT site). It is primarily a bird reserve, with several well-appointed hides, which have very good identification charts provided within.

View of lake
View over one of the lakes with geese and ducks

KingfisherThe weather was kind, and we spent the whole day on the reserve. There were many interesting birds (list below), including many geese and ducks (the gadwall was a first for me), three raptors (kestrel, sparrowhawk and two buzzards circling high above us but sadly no harriers or hobbies) – and the highlight of the trip, a kingfisher that posed on the twigs at the water’s edge near one of the hides (photo by Jim Pewtress).

There were also many interesting plants (many of them along the verge of the lane that runs down the edge of the reserve), including several that we only see occasionally in Ryedale, such as the prickly oxtongue (Picris echioides) and white bryony (Bryonia dioica); this was intriguing because it was bearing flowers and berries together. Canadian fleabane (Conyza canadensis) was growing in the edge of one of the fields, as was beaked hawksbeard (Crepis vesicaria). It was interesting to see the two Reseda species mignonette and weld growing on the same verge, allowing us to see the differences between them very clearly, the most obvious being the divided leaves of mignonette versus the simple ones of the weld: as Nan Sykes put it “the leaves of weld are welded together” – a very useful mnemonic.

Trifolium arvense - haresfoot clover
Haresfoot Clover flowerheads

I was delighted to see haresfoot clover (Trifolium arvense) in full flower – this is the first time I have seen it. These soft, elongated flowerheads really are like a (small) hare’s foot, and are exquisite in close-up, with the feathery calyx surrounding each tiny white peaflower. Celery-leaved buttercup (Ranunculus sceleratus) is uncommon in Ryedale, but was growing here under some of the newly-planted shrubs just off the path; its elongated “core” is quite distinctive. There were also trees and bushes in fruit such as dogwood, sloe, guelder rose, bramble and crab apple. I did not record everything, but some of the more interesting plants are listed below.

North Cave is known for its insects as well as birds, but we were a little late in the season. I did spot at least three different dragonflies, including common darter, a large hawker too far away to identify and what I think were four-spot chasers, as well as small tortoiseshell, speckled wood and white butterflies. I missed the blue one Nan saw, which I imagine was a common blue.

Sympetrum striolatum
Male common darter dragonfly (Common Darter - Sympetrum striolatum (m))


Looking for the kingfisher

Plant photos

White bryony Bryonia dioica
White bryony (above ) and black horehound (right)
Black horehound  Ballota nigra
Weld  Reseda luteola
Mignonette  Reseda lutea
Celery-leaved buttercup  Ranunculus sceleratus
Mignonette (above) and celery-leaved buttercup
Dogwood  Cornus sanguinea
Dogwood berries and crab apples (right)
Crab apple Malus sylvestris


Bird list

Thanks to Jim Pewtress for the list:
Rook, Jackdaw, Robin, Woodpigeon, Mallard, Coot, Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Greylag Goose, Pochard, Lapwing, Little Grebe, Moorhen, Great Crested Grebe, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Shoveler, Pied Wagtail, Buzzard, House Martin, Starling, Teal, Snipe, Wigeon, Cormorant, Black-headed Gull, Meadow Pipit, Common Gull, Stock Dove, Green Woodpecker, Sand Martin, Kingfisher, Golden Plover, Pheasant, Sparrowhawk, Swallow. And a gull that looked like a Lesser Black-backed, but “I think the Lesser Black-backed Gull was in fact a Herring Gull as it had pink legs. LBB have pink legs when sub-adult and juvenile but this was an adult bird.”

List of selected plants

Latin NameEnglish Name
Artemesia vulgarisMugwort
Ballota nigraBlack horehound
Cornus sanguineaDogwood
Bryonia dioicaBryony, white
Conyza canadensisCanadian Fleabane
Cornus sanguineaDogwood
Crepis capillarisHawksbeard, smooth
Crepis vesicariaHawksbeard, beaked
Malus sylvestrisCrab apple
Malva sylvestrisMallow, common
Phragmites communisReed
Picris echiodesOxtongue, bristly
Prunus spinosaBlackthorn
Ranunculus sceleratusButtercup, celery leaved
Reseda luteaMignonette
Reseda luteolaWeld
Rubus fruticosus agg.Bramble
Sanguisorba minorBurnet, salad
Senecio jacobeaRagwort, common
Silene latifoliaCampion, white
Silene vulgarisCampion, bladder
Torilis japonicaHedge parsley, upright
Trifolium arvenseHaresfoot Clover
Tripleurospermum maritimumMayweed, sea
Viburnum opulusGuelder rose

List compiled with Plantfinder.
Gill Smith Back to the Index page

Text and photos © Gill Smith 2007 (Kingfisher © Jim Pewtress 2007)