Welcome to the LDV NNR ringing blog, this blog is designed to share the experiences, findings and tales from a group of dedicated ringers. We specialise in conservation orientated research projects, largely focusing on wildfowl, waders, owls and birds of conservation concern, in and around the Vale of York NNR's.

NB - Whilst the purpose of this blog was initially designed to cover our nationally important wildfowl ringing activities, it now also features wildlife and work posts, explaining we how manage the NNR for both wildlife and people.

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Thursday, 25 September 2014

22/09/14 - Exploring the Common

At the beginning of September Judith returned once again to the LDV, to spend the day identifying plants, grasses, rushes and mosses of Skipwith Common. Whilst there we also had a good look for invertebrates and fungi, with a few pleasing finds.

Skipwith Common

Starting at Blackwood Corner we walked to the flower pond, on the way we came across a number of fungi, particularly in the first area through the double gate, with species such as Tawny Grissette, Spiny Puffball, Common Earthball, Ochre Brittlegill and Brown Birch Bolete found. Two new grasses were also found here - Purple Moor-grass and Early Hair Grass.

 Common Earthball Scleroderma citrinum
 Common Puffball Lycoperdon perlatum
Tawny Grissette Amanita fulva

Away from the drier heath and into the wetter areas dominated by Juncus we found typical species of damp areas such as Marsh Horsetail, Marsh Arrowgrass, Marsh Bedstraw, Lesser Spearwort, Bog Pimpernel, Jointed Rush, Bulbous Rush, Sharp-flowered Rush, Soft Rush, Hard Rush & Compact Rush.

Hard Rush Juncus inflexus

Whilst looking at the differences between the rushes we noticed many spiders web hanging between, a number of species were found such as: the Four-spot Orb Weaver Araneus quadratus, Marbled Orb Weaver Araneus marmoreus var pyramidatus, Furrow Spider Larinioides cornutus and the Lesser Garden Spider Metellina segmentata.

 Four-spot Orb Weaver Araneus quadratus
 Furrow Spider Larinioides cornutus
 Marbled Orb Weaver Araneus marmoreus var pyramidatus
Lesser Garden Spider Metellina segmentata

In the same damp area we found three new sedges for the year, and two which were completely new – Oval Sedge and Long-stalked Yellow Sedge, along with Common Yellow Sedge which we did find on the Common last year – a very small and low growing sedge – easy to miss!

Common Yellow-sedge Carex viridula

The Common is a good place to look for mosses, with three types of Polytrichum found: P.formosum, P.commune, P.juniperinum along with three types of Sphagnum mosses: S.fimbriatum, S.squarrosum, S.palustre.

Common Haircap Moss Polytrichum commune
Blunt-leaved Bog Moss Sphagnum palustre

On arrival at the flower pond we found that it was much drier than last year, however two of the species we’d hoped to find there from last year were found – Marsh St.John’s-wort & Marsh Speedwell, despite much searching disappointingly Shoreweed could not be found – one of the new species that was added to the species list last year. A Common Frog greeted us on arrival and sat quietly allowing close views and photographs. During September the last of this years frogs are dispersing from the ponds (with dispersal starting as early as June). After the breeding season adults can be found hiding in damp vegetation as they start to look for places to hibernate for throughout the winter.

Common Frog Rana temporaria

Lunch at the bomb bay loop provided an opportunity to scan the heath for Woodlarks and Tree Pipits, no joy with those two species but we did see a Green Woodpecker in flight and heard several Jays calling. A Common Lizard was spotted on the boardwalk by the propeller, basking in the warm sunshine. Sightings of lizards have become much fewer recently with the end of the season fast approaching.

Common Lizard Lacerta vivipara

The Marsh Gentians were counted, with numbers up to at least 60 plants – pleasing to see and several were starting to open. Marsh Gentians are only found on this one particular area of the Common, probably occurring because of the lime enrichment of the soil from the concrete nearby from the RAF base. The only other colony in the Vale of York is on Strensall Common SSSI. The area they occur on at Skipwith is managed to maintain their numbers by close mowing and disturbance of the soil in late autumn and early winter, reducing the competition by other species and leaving bare and open areas for them to thrive. This management seems to be working with a general increase over recent years from 60 or so flowering plants to around 150+.

Marsh Gentian Gentiana pneumonanthe

A walk round the bomb bay loop saw us add a few Lichens to the species list - Xanthoria parietina and Lepraria incana along with Pill Sedge and Annual Pearlwort – both new additions for the year. A group of five very small and newly emerged Fly Agarics were then found – one of the more brightly coloured and easily recognisable fungi species. Fly Agaric is probably the best known mushroom species due to its distinctive look and bright red colours, making it instantly recognisable. Fly Agaric appear initially like this one pictured here, before growing in size and height – with some individuals reaching 30cm tall! At it goes on to mature, the scarlet ‘cap’ opens and becomes flattened. This species is rumoured to get its name from medieval times when it was used as a fly killer – the cap would be broken up and mixed into saucers of milk – both attracting and killing flies.

Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria

Walking down the boardwalk adjacent to the bomb bay loop, two species of Shield Bug were on display, with Bronze Shield Bug and Birch Shield Bug found (including nymphs of both species). More information on Shield Bugs and our recent post can be read here. The pool is much quieter for dragonflies now with it nearing the end of the season, just Emeralds (2), Ruddy Darter (3), Common Darter (1) and Black Darter (1) were counted.

 Bronze Shield Bug Troilus luridus
 Emerald Lestes sponsa
Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum

A Harlequin Ladybird, form spectabilis was found on one of the many Silver Birch trees, along with a Yellow-tail caterpillar and a Green Leaf Hopper on the Juncus. Harlequin Ladybirds can vary in colour, from orange/yellow to black, and the number of spots can be between 2 and 22 - making identifying them quite tricky!

 Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis spectabilis
 Yellow-tail Euproctis similis
Green Leaf Hopper Cicadella viridis

To finish off the day we stopped at Wheldrake Ings for a short walk, in just an hour spent along the boardwalk to Swantail Hide we added a number of new species on such as: Marsh Willowherb, Good King Henry, Spear-leaved Orache, Orange Balsam and Greater Burdock.

Down the lane on the way out a beady eye spotted another two new species – False Fox Sedge and Tall Fescue – both key species and indicators of MG12 Grassland.

False-fox Sedge Carex otrubae

Many thanks again to Judith for another really good day, and for helping us to I.D a number of new grasses, sedges and rushes on the Common.

1 comment:

  1. excellent, all Natural England NNR's should be, as no 1 priority, be producing something like this monthly.