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Spiers House, Cropton Forest 18th July 2015

led by Jim Pewtress

Species lists below

Heathland at Spiers House

Eight members attended this mid-summer afternoon meeting which concentrated on a clear fell site just north of Spiers House campsite. This clearing of approximately 200m × 400m was the site of a fire about five years ago which destroyed all the vegetation. This meeting was primarily to discover how the flora and fauna had regenerated thus far. Members approached the site along an access road and it was a delight to see so many common spotted orchids in the verge. There were also two large spreads of betony near the carpark. Yellow rattle was common alongside all the tracks.

Yellow rattle Rhinanthus minor

Yellow rattle Rhinanthus minor

Betony (detail) Stachys officinalis

Betony (detail) Stachys officinalis

Botanically the area has recovered well with 61 species recorded not including grasses and trees. There were plenty of well-established conifer saplings which presumably have been planted. Bell heather was the dominant heath species but there were odd small clumps of ling and cross-leaved heath. We were able to cross part of the area via a footpath but otherwise the ground was very uneven. It appeared well drained but there was a wet ditch alongside the path. The area was surrounded on three sides by well-established forest and the main access track on the fourth side. These track sides allow for a further variety of flora, including common centuary, ox-eye daisy, St John’s wort and wild marjoram amongst others.

Centaury Centaurium erythraea

Centaury Centaurium erythraea

Self heal (white form)

Self heal (white form) Prunella vulgaris

Having studied the main area the group headed northwest along a deep rutted track through the forest to another much larger clear fell site and back to the carpark via a main access track. This last track yielded an abundance of rather good wild strawberries. It was along this trackside that a white form of self heal was seen, just two stems.

Birds were not in any great numbers and as expected we did see tree pipits, still feeding young in one instance. One member visited this site on the previous evening and at least one nightjar was churring.

Ringlet butterfly Aphantopus hyperantus
Ringlet butterfly

The predominant butterfly was ringlet in good numbers but there were low numbers of the others listed with only single sightings of small skipper, speckled wood and common blue. One fritillary was seen but too brief a glimpse to identify. Other insects included a “bottley blue bee” that turned out to be the parasitic tachind fly Tachina grossa and the wasp-mimicking hoverly Sericomyia silentis (ironically named as it flies with a very loud buzz). [

Ed: Thanks to Stuart Dunlop for the IDs.]

Hoverfly Sericomyia silentis

Hoverfly Sericomyia silentis

Parasitic tachinid fly Tachina grossa

Parasitic tachinid fly Tachina grossa

Species lists


Note: most grasses are not on this list.

Latin nameEnglish name
Achillea millefoliumYarrow
Alchemilla sp.Lady’s mantle
Bellis perennisDaisy
Blechnum spicantHard fern
Briza mediaQuaking grass
Calluna vulgarisLing
Carex echinataStar sedge
Carex paniceaCarnation sedge
Carex viridula = C. demissaYellow sedge
Centaurea nigraCommon knapweed
Centaurium erythraeaCentaury
Cirsium arvenseCreeping thistle
Cirsium palustreMarsh thistle
Cirsium vulgareSpear thistle
Cruciata laevipesCrosswort
Dactylis glomerataCocksfoot
Dactylorhiza fuchsiiCommon spotted orchid
Deschampsia caespitosaTufted hairgrass
Digitalis purpureaFoxglove
Dryopteris dilatataCommon or broad buckler fern
Dryopteris filix-masMale fern
Equisetum arvenseField horsetail
Equisetum sylvaticumWood horsetail
Erica cinereaBell heather
Erica tetralixCross-leaved heath
Euphrasia officinalis agg.Eyebright
Fragaria vescaWild strawberry
Heracleum sphondyliumHogweed
Hypericum perforatumPerforate St Johnswort
Hypericum pulchrumBeautiful or Slender St Johnswort
Juncus conglomeratusCompact rush
Leucanthemum vulgareDog daisy or Ox-eye daisy
Linum catharticumFairy flax
Lotus corniculatusCommon birdsfoot trefoil
Matricaria discoideaPineapple weed
Medicago lupulinaBlack medick
Myosotis discolorChanging forgetmenot
Oreopteris limbospermaLemon-scented Fern
Origanum vulgareMarjoram
Plantago lanceolataRibwort plantain
Plantago majorRatstail plantain
Potentilla anserinaSilverweed
Potentilla erectaTormentil
Potentilla reptansCreeping cinquefoil
Prunella vulgarisSelf heal
Pteridium aquilinumBracken
Ranunculus acrisMeadow buttercup
Ranunculus repensCreeping buttercup
Rhinanthus minorYellow rattle
Rubus fruticosusBramble
Senecio jacobeaCommon ragwort
Sonchus asperPrickly sowthistle
Stachys officinalis = Betonica officinalisBetony
Stachys sylvaticaHedge woundwort
Torilis japonicaUpright hedge parsley
Trifolium pratenseRed clover
Trifolium repensWhite clover
Tussilago farfaraColtsfoot
Urtica dioicaNettle
Vaccinium myrtillusBilberry
Veronica chamaedrysGermander speedwell
Vicia craccaTufted vetch


Bullfinch, Greenfinch, Siskin, Swallow, Tree Pipit, Wren, Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow and Nightjar on the previous evening.


Pardosa pullata, Enoplognatha ovata, Linyphia triangularis.


Leiobunum rotundum, Dicranopalpus ramosus.


Ringlet, Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood, Common Blue, Small Skipper, Meadow Brown and unidentified fritillary.


Large Yellow Underwing.

Other Insects

Tachina grossa, Sericomyia silentis and Ampedus balteatus (a click beetle). Thanks to Stuart Dunlop for IDs.

© Ryedale Natural History Society 2015, Photos © RNHS and Jayne Smith 2015 Back to the Home page