Today was the second of two walks of greater distance and difficulty than would suit the group as a whole. Six of us used the train to get to Ribblehead to visit the quarry, Scar Close and Colt Park.
The approach road to the quarry gave us an indication of what was in store including Common Twayblades, Bird’s-foot Trefoil, Water Avens, Meadow Vetchling, Fairy Flax and Silverweed. We had a good view of a Latticed Heath Moth and John pointed out Silver-ground Carpet and a grass moth which we had seen last week as well (but I still can’t remember it’s name!).
Our final spot before we entered the quarry was The Scots Guardsman steam train passing over the viaduct on its way north.
A wall of heat was noticeable as we went through the gate into the quarry, but the less welcome change we noticed was the number of biting midges, who stayed with us until we left Scar Close later in the afternoon. How we suffer for our art!
Immediately we were watching Small Heath and Common Blue butterflies. There was a good population of Northern Marsh and Common Spotted Orchids, and the hybrids showing features of both species.
The floor of the quarry was notably dry, though the presence of Lesser Spearwort, Marsh Marigold and many rushes and sedges, indicated that the conditions are normally much damper. (We really didn’t do justice to the sedges - and when we next go we could spend much longer looking at these in detail).
Where the water did persist at the edge of the quarry, we saw Large Red Damselflies, and the vegetation included Ragged Robin and we were lucky to catch the last few Bird’s-eye Primrose - there were plenty of seed heads to indicate what the display would have been like a few weeks ago.
Just before we settled down for lunch we heard a call from atop a mound of stone, ‘has anyone lost a camera?’ Not only was the camera reunited with its owner, but I recognised the voice so went over to say hello to Howard who was a volunteer when I was first involved with BEES, and was on the management committee for many years. A nice chance encounter.
The birds were pretty quiet today, but we did see Raven and Lapwing in the quarry, and a number of Oystercatchers were flying overhead. We heard several warblers in the scrub on Scar Close.
After lunch we crossed Sleights Pasture to Scar Close, enjoying considerable amounts of Mossy Saxifrage.
Immediately after crossing the stile into the reserve Sue spotted a butterfly - a Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, the butterfly I had hoped we would see, and everyone got a chance for a close view. At this point it probably would have been easier to turn round and look elsewhere, but we ventured onwards. To describe progress as challenging would be a polite description, but the effort was worth the reward to see a fine example of limestone pavement in this wild eastern section. The complementary species of woodland and limestone flora, were evident. Wood Cranesbill, Wild Garlic, Dog’s Mercury, Bluebell and several ferns (including Brittle Bladder and Hard Shield (I think)), grew side by side with Lily of the Valley, Bloody Cranesbill, Common Rock-rose and Wall Lettuce. We saw one Small Scabious plant in flower, which, along with most plants looked to be suffering from drought. The Milkwort was notably luxuriant and I was pleased to see the patches of Melancholy Thistle coming into flower.
After a while exploring the pavement (it was comical what little distance we had covered when we made our way to the fence to exit), it was time for our small party to split into two, with some heading back to the station for the 16.14 train. Meanwhile the rest of us headed out of the pavement and across to Colt Park. We decided we didn’t have time to explore Salt Lake Quarry, so will have to return for that, but we did have time to bob into Ashes Pastures. We didn’t venture far but spotted Bugle, Marsh Ragwort and Common Spotted and Northern Marsh Orchids near the gate. The brow of the hill offered a delightful array of Heath Spotted Orchids, varying from pink to white, and this seemed a good place to call it a day and head back to the station. The journey home was smooth and I was in front of the telly before England kicked off!
Julia (sorry for late posting).