Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Limestone Cowboy #1

Top weekend with Ian Powell (through Malham Tarn FSC) on Yorkshire's upland limestone, learning about the plants of these wonderful, picturesque landscapes. Our first day was spent walking through the grasslands north of Grassington, into Grass Wood YWT and then back along the river. The grasslands were parched, with some of the dry stone wall specialists literally burnt to a crisp by the drought conditions. Nevertheless, we found some great stuff. Dark Green Fritillaries were out in force, with at least 40 seen, mostly nectaring on Betony, one of the few flowering plants still blooming. A few Northern Brown Argus were still flitting about, chasing away the local Common Blues. 
Maybe a bit of video would work...

We found a few nice plants in the grassland, including Mountain Pansy. Both variations of the bumblebee-mimicking hoverfly, Volucella bombylans were around, the White-tailed Bumblebee-like Plumata and the Red-tailed Bumblebee-like Bombylans, but I only managed a pic of the former.

Into the cool, shade of the wood. This was a welcome relief! More interesting limestone plants were found here, along with a couple of bonuses, like the Bird's-nest Orchid, below, growing among the Beech litter.

Bird's-nest Orchid. This is as good as they get! No chlorophyll, they are orchid-cowboys, pinching all their nutrients from the Beech trees via their fungal partner.

I drop this photo in of a particularly well-marked Common Spotted Orchid from Askham Bog. Maybe a hybrid with Southern Marsh Orchid?

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