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21st June 2014

led by Tom Denney, notes by Gill Smith

Species lists below


50 years to the day we met for a ramble in Sleightholmedale. 20 members and guests met on The Avenue. We do not know the exact route taken in 1964; in 2014 we enjoyed a ramble through the woods down into the valley and then walked through the flower-rich water meadows upstream along the river. I suspect the earlier trip may have gone further upstream or visited the other side of the valley, since we did not pass any habitat suitable for bog asphodel or cottongrass. Some of us braved the swinging “Nepalese bridge” over the river.

The 1964 plant list was short, clearly only recording “interesting” species. I am very suspicious of the “frog orchid” (there is only one other old local record that I know of, and no recetn ones. The way it is phrased I think there was uncertainly of hte identity of whatever was found, and I wonder if it might have been a twayblade perhpas with damaged leaves.

Of the plants on the list only the columbine (leaves only), spindle, cow wheat (only one plant) and fly orchid (almost over) were found. There had been several spikes of fly orchid seen a few weeks earlier, but only one remained, in deep shade in an old quarry. This may indicate the effects of global warming if there were more fly orchids 50 years ago, or perhaps they also only found late specimens.

fly orchid Ophrys insectifera Herb Paris Paris quadrifolia

Fly orchid (left) and Herb Paris with berries (right)

In keeping with the 1964 list I only recorded a few species of particular interest. The Herb Paris was in fruit, so we could see the shiny black berries which iwas interesting as we usually see this plant earlier in the season with its extraordinary 4-way flowers. I was sorry not to find the butterfly orchid (although at this date I would expect it to be over and therefore hard to spot!), pyramidal orchid or the chickweed wintergreen. We only found a single plant of cow wheat – this seems to be scarce throughout Ryedale and declining, although we do not know why.

cow wheat Melampyrum pratense

Ryenats in meadow

In the waterside meadows we saw several butterflies and moths, including a ringlet butterfly and a magnificent green caterpillar (subsequently identified as a Copper Underwing moth (Amphipyra pyramidea).

caterpillar of Copper Underwing Ringlet butterfly

Copper underwing caterpillar (left) and Ringlet butterfly (right)

We were treated to a wonderful “birthday tea” with home-made scones and cakes by Rosanna James in her beautiful garden – thank you, Rosanna.

1964 plant list

Latin nameCommon nameNotes
Anacamptis pyramidalisOrchid, pyramidal 
Aquilegia vulgarisColumbine *Purple & white (nearly over)
Carex spicataSpiked sedge 
Coeloglossum virideOrchid, frogpreviously believed to be the Man, which is not however expected to be found north of Peterborough.
Eriophorum angustifoliumCottongrass, common[Ed: recorded as Bog Cotton]
Euonymus europaeusSpindle * 
Gymnadenia conopseaOrchid, fragrant 
Melampyrum pratenseCow wheat * 
Narthecium ossifragumBog asphodel(in bud)
Ophrys insectiferaOrchid, fly *only 2 specimens
Platanthera chloranthaOrchid, greater butterfly[Ed: ? – only recorded as “Butterfly orchid”]
Pyrola minorWintergreen - common 

Those marked  * were also found in 2014.

2014 plant list (additional species)

Latin nameCommon name
Paris quadrifoliaHerb Paris
Crepis paludosaMarsh hawksbeard
Polystichum aculeatumHard shield fern
Digitalis purpureaFoxglove
Leucanthemum vulgareDog daisy or Ox-eye daisy

Moths and Butterfly

Thanks to Keith Gittens for this list:
Clouded Magpie
Silver-ground Carpet
Chimney Sweeper
Copper Underwing caterpillar


Thanks to Tom Denney for this list:
Pied wagtail
Carrion crow
Great tit
Song thrush
Garden warbler
Curlew (heard)

© Ryedale Natural History Society 2014, Photos © Gill Smith 2014 Back to the Home page