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Ashford Hill National Nature Reserve – 30 May 2015

On a sunny, warm day, Sarah and Ken White led a group of 16 members around the National Nature Reserve at Ashford Hill. Walking from the car park in the village to the reserve we found Green Alkanet, Greater Celandine, Tall Fescue and False Fox-sedge. In the reserve itself, we then explored several of the wildflower meadows before heading into the SSSI woodland (Redlands Copse) to the east of the reserve, where we saw Pale Sedge, Wood Melick and Common Cow-wheat. After a picnic lunch, we re-entered the NNR from the south-eastern end accompanied by Bob Winfield, a volunteer warden with twenty years’ experience of the site. Bob described the geology of the area and explained the history and management of the reserve which together have led to the development of the rich and diverse habitats and a wide range of flora and fauna, several of which are locally rare.

The first meadow (Pipers Piece) was a typical unimproved meadow on London Clay and Lower Bagshot Beds. In this area we saw Kites, Buzzards and Treecreepers and heard Goldfinches, Blackbirds and Chiffchaffs. A wet boggy area here contained Greater Tussock-sedge, Great Yellow Cress, Common Valerian, Ragged Robin, Bladder Sedge, Remote Sedge and Water Plantain.

The next meadow was very different: it was drier with a sandy, acidic soil and a large number of anthills made by the Meadow Ant. Here were large areas of Pignut in flower, Oval sedge, Sweet Vernal Grass, Hairy Sedge, Glaucous Sedge, Tormentil, Cat’s-ear, Heath Spotted Orchids, Heath and Germander Speedwell, Marsh Thistle and Bitter Vetch. The plant species growing on top of the anthills were noticeably different from those growing in the rest of the sward. For example, Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Spring Sedge, Large Thyme and Dyer’s Greenweed grew only on the anthill tops. We saw a Kingfisher and heard a Chiffchaff, Garden Warbler, Green Woodpecker and Blackcap. We saw a Common Blue, an Orange Tip, a Scorpion Fly, a Straw Dot Moth, a Burnet Companion, a Small Yellow Underwing and a Narrow-bordered Bee Hawkmoth. The latter was a particularly good find, being only the third record in Hampshire for the last 3 years and a new 10km square record. The unmistakeable sound of noisy young Great Spotted Woodpeckers led us to their nest-hole at the edge of the wood.

In the particularly species-rich, marshy area at the south-eastern end of the reserve we saw Square-stemmed St. John’s Wort, Marsh Valerian, Marsh Lousewort, Marsh Pennywort, Star Sedge, Common Cottongrass, Bog Pimpernel, Wood Club-rush, Water Figwort and Gypsywort.

Walking back through the reserve along the boardwalk, we heard Bullfinch, Reed Bunting, Turtle Dove and Water Rail. Lastly, Bob showed us one of the specialities of the reserve: Greater Broomrape, nestled under a flowering Broom.

Achillea millefolium Yarrow   Gnaphalium uliginosum Marsh Cudweed
Ajuga reptans Bugle   Glyceria fluitans Floating Sweet-grass
Alisma plantago aquatica Water Plantain   Genista tinctoria Dyer’s Greenweed
Alliaria petiolata Garlic Mustard   Holcus lanatus Yorkshire Fog
Alnus glutinosa Alder   Hyacinthoides non scripta Bluebell
Alopecurus geniculatus Marsh Foxtail   Hydrocotyle vulgaris Marsh Pennywort
A. pratensis Meadow Foxtail   Hypericum pulchrum Slender St John’s-wort
Anagallis tenella Bog Pimpernel   Hypericum tetrapterum Square-stalked St John’s-wort
Anemone nemorosa Wood Anemone   Hypochaeris radicata Cat’s-ear
Angelica sylvestris Wild Angelica   Iris pseudacorus Yellow Iris
Anisantha sterilis Sterile Brome   Juncus bufonius Toad Rush
Anthoxanthum odoratum Sweet Vernal grass   J. effusus Soft Rush
Anthriscus sylvestris Cow Parsley   Lathyrus linifolius Bitter-vetch
Apium nodiflorum Fool’s Water Cress   Lolium perenne Perennial Rye-grass
Arctium minus Lesser Burdock   Lotus corniculatus Common Bird’s-foot Trefoil
Bellis perennis Daisy   L. pedunculatus Greater Bird’s-foot Trefoil
Blechnum spicant Hard fern   Luzula multiflora Heath wood-rush
Caltha palustris Marsh Marigold   L. pilosa Hairy Wood-rush
Cardamine flexuosa Wavy Bitter-cress   Lycopus europaeus Gypsywort
C. pratensis Cuckooflower   Melampyrum pratense Common Cow-wheat
Carex acutiformis Lesser Pond-sedge   Melica uniflora Wood Melick
C. caryophyllea Spring-sedge   Mentha aquatica Water Mint
C. disticha Brown Sedge   Moehringia trinerva Three-nerved Sandwort
C. echinata Star Sedge   Myosotis scorpioides Water Forget-me-not
C. flacca Glaucous Sedge   Oenanthe crocata Hemlock Water-dropwort
C. hirta Hairy Sedge   Orobanche rapum-genistae Greater Broomrape
C. leporina Oval Sedge   Pedicularis palustris Marsh Lousewort
C. otrubae False Fox-sedge   Pentaglottis sempervirens Green Alkanet
C. panicea Carnation Sedge   Pilosella officinarum Mouse-ear-hawkweed
C. pallescens Pale Sedge   Plantago lanceolata Ribwort Plantain
C. paniculata Greater Tussock-sedge   Poa trivialis Rough Meadow-grass
C. pilulifera Pill Sedge   Polygonatum multiflorum Solomon’s-seal
C. remota Remote Sedge   Ranunculus acris Meadow Buttercup
C. sylvatica Wood Sedge   R. bulbosus Bulbous Buttercup
C. vesicaria Bladder Sedge   R. flammula Lesser Spearwort
Centaurea nigra Common Knapweed   R. repens Creeping Buttercup
Cerastium fontanum Common Mouse-ear   Rhinanthus minor Yellow-rattle
Chelidonium majus Greater Celandine   Rorippa amphibia Great Yellow-cress
Chrysosplenium oppositifolium Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage   Scirpus sylvaticus Wood Club-rush
Circaea lutetiana Enchanter’s Nightshade   Schedonorus arundinaceus Tall Fescue
Cirsium arvense Creeping Thistle   Scrophularia auriculata Water Figwort
Cirsium dissectum Meadow Thistle   Scrophularia nodosa Figwort
C. palustre Marsh Thistle   Silene dioica Red Campion
Conopodium majus Pignut   Silene flos-cuculi Ragged Robin
Crataegus monogyna Hawthorn   Solanum dulcamara Woody Nightshade
Crepis vesicaria Beaked Hawk’s-beard   Stellaria alsine Bog Stitchwort
Cruciata laevipes Crosswort   S. graminea Lesser Stitchwort
Cynosurus cristatus Crested Dog’s-tail   S. holosteoides Greater Stitchwort
Cytisus scoparius Broom   Succisa pratensis Devil’s-bit Scabious
Dactylis glomerata Cock’s-foot   Thymus pulegioides Large Thyme
Dactylorhiza maculata Heath Spotted-orchid   Trifolium dubium Lesser Trefoil
Deschampsia cespitosa Tufted Hair-grass   T. pratense Red Clover
Digitalis purpurea Foxglove   Triglochin palustris Marsh Arrow Grass
Equisetum arvense Field Horsetail   Typha latifolia Bulrush
E. palustre Marsh Horsetail   Ulex europaeus Gorse
Eriophorum angustifolium Common Cottongrass   Valeriana dioica Marsh Valerian
Eupatorium cannabinum Hemp-agrimony   V. officinalis Common Valerian
Festuca rubra Red fescue   Veronica beccabunga Brooklime
Ficaria verna Lesser Celandine   V. chamaedrys Germander Speedwell
Filipendula ulmaria Meadowsweet   V. montana Wood Speedwell
Galium saxatile Heath Bedstraw   V. officinalis Heath Speedwell
G. verum Lady’s Bedstraw   V. serpyllifolia Thyme-leaved Speedwell
Geum urbanum Wood Avens   Vaccinium myrtillus Bilberry
Kingfisher   Great Spotted Woodpecker + nest
Buzzard   House Sparrow
Goldfinch   Jackdaw
Treecreeper   House Martin
Reed Bunting   Goldcrest
Red Kite   Kestrel
Chiffchaff   Blackcap
Green Woodpecker   Wren
Bullfinch   Great Tit
Water Rail   Jay
Turtle Dove   Robin
Garden Warbler   Song Thrush
Dunnock   Moorhen
Greenfinch   Nuthatch
Chaffinch   Whitethroat
Blackbird + juvenile   Magpie
Woodpigeon   Raven (3birds)
Blue Tit + nest    
Anthocharis cardamines Orange Tip   Lycaena phlaeas Small Copper
Callophrys rubi Green Hairstreak   Panemeria tenebrata Small Yellow Underwing
Callistege mi Mother Shipton moth   Panorpa communis Scorpion Fly (female)
Euclidia glyphica Burnet Companion   Pieris napi Green-Veined White
Gastrophysa viridula Emerald Pot-bellied Beetle   Polyommatus icarus Common Blue
Gonepteryx rhamni Brimstone   Pseudopanthera macularia Speckled Yellow
Hemaris tityus Narrow Bordered Bee Hawkmoth   Rivula sericealis Straw Dot Moth
Inachis io Peacock   Vanessa cardui Painted Lady
Libellula quadrimaculata Four-spotted Chaser