Alice and myself enjoyed a special treat today. We visited the species rich meadows, woodland and ponds in the vicinity of York Gate Quarry. Our meeting point was the York Gate Quarry car park which was relatively quiet. The weather conditions were ideal- a sunny, warm day with gentle breezes. Initially we explored the meadow on the left of the path leading to the Quarry. I was hopeful that we would see orchids more especially Southern Marsh Orchid although seeds of doubt had been sown prior to our visit due to the previous months dry weather conditions. Much to our joy we discovered a whole colony of Southern Marsh Orchids occupying the sheltered and wetter perimeter of the meadow, possibly up to 30 in number. The majority were in pristine condition. There were lots of lovely summer flowers- Lesser Stitchwort, Self Heal, Yellow Rattle, Common Birds Foot Trefoil, Oxeye Daisy, Alchemillia (possible garden variety), Dog Rose, Tufted Hair Grass and Knapweed. Insect life was much in evidence including Day flying moths and Meadow Brown butterflies.
Following a brief rest for refreshments we continued our exploration by following the path to the pond which took us through meadow and woodland. The flora included Rough Chervil, Dotted Loosestrife, Greater Birdsfoot Trefoil, Meadow Vetchling, Bramble, Wood Avens,Tufted and Bush Vetch and Curled and Broad leaved Dock. The pond area was mostly overgrown with vegetation however there was a small area of clear water with a host of tadpoles. The surrounding vegetation included Yellow Flag Iris, Water Mint (not yet in flower), Water Forget-me-not, Lesser Spearwort, Bull Rush, Common Spike Rush, Water Starwort, New Zealand pigmy weed and Hog weed. We returned via another meadow area on a hill offering a more open habitat. To our surprise we found another colony of Southern Marsh Orchids also two butterflies Small Copper and Large Skipper.
Notable birds species include a pair of curlew seen in flight over the Chevin on my journey to the car park. Also Swallows were seen flying across the car park.
Lockdown is certainly giving us the opportunity to become more famliliar with areas of botanical interest nearer to home. I think we both felt our visit had been time well spent.
See photos here.