Dry Sandford Pit – 16 July 2017

On a fine Sunday afternoon, 11 members and friends took part in a walk around the BBOWT reserve Dry Sandford Pit near Abingdon, Oxfordshire. The walk was led by Alan Parfitt, who explained that the limestone cliffs here date back as long ago as the Jurassic Period. The nature reserve comprises many different habitats such as chalk grasslands, fens, ponds, streams and woods, reflected by the many different species of plants, insects and birds found here. We soon saw a variety of chalk-loving plants such as Wild Basil Clinopodium vulgare, Wild Mignonette Reseda lutea, Musk Thistle Carduus nutans, Agrimony Agrimonia eupatoria, Wild Parsnip Pastinaca sativa, Common Centaury Centaurium erythraea (including a plant with white flowers) and Hairy St John’s-wort Hypericum hirsutum. A bog provided still more interesting species such as the orchids Marsh Helleborine Epipactus palustris, mainly in fruit but some still flowering, Marsh Fragrant-orchid Gymnadenia densiflora and Common Twayblade Neottia ovata. We heard a Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus singing, but could not see it, as is usually the case. In another field with chalk plants we saw the beautiful Greater Knapweed Centauria scabiosa, Lady’s Bedstraw Galium verum, Dark Mullein Verbascum nigrum, Salad Burnet Poterium sanguisorba, Field Scabious Knautia arvensis, Burnet-saxifrage Pimpinella saxifraga and the Woolly Thistle Cirsium eriophorum. One specimen of this magnificent thistle was nearly in flower and there were several enormous leaf rosettes. Many species of butterfly were fluttering in the chalk grasslands, including Comma Polygonia c-album, Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta, Gatekeeper Pyronia tithonus, and we heard the characteristic sound of a Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra. A wet area followed with Water Figwort Scrophularia auriculata, Marsh Thistle Cirsium palustre, Common Fleabane Pulicaria dysenterica and Water Mint Mentha aquatica. Finally we entered a more woody area with Dog’s Mercury Mercurialis perennis, Lords-and-Ladies Arum maculatum with red fruits, Red Currant Ribes rubrum, Common Spotted-orchid Dactylorhiza fuchsia (mainly in fruit), Remote Sedge Carex remota, Wavy Bitter-cress Cardamine flexuosa, Rosebay Willowherb Chamerion angustifolium, Ploughman’s Spikenard Inula conyza and the invasive alien Snowberry Symphoricarpos albus.

Another BBOWT Nature Reserve, Parsonage Moor, is in walking distance from Dry Sandford Pit, so part of our group walked over there after the visit to Dry Sandford Pit. Prickly Lettuce Lactuca serriola was growing near the gate of the reserve and in the bog we found Water Mint Mentha aquatica again, Black Bog-rush Schoenus nigricans and a large plant of the rare Marsh Lousewort Pedicularis palustris. Lots of leaves of Grass-of-Parnassus Parnassia palustrus seem to be present, but no plant was flowering yet. Because of an approaching pitch-black sky, we did not stay long in Parsonage Moor, so that we could be back in the cars before the heavens opened.

Report by Renée Grayer

Pictures by Rob Stallard

Dry Sandford Pit, species list 16/07/2107
Scientific name English name Remarks
Achillea millefolium Yarrow
Agrimonia eupatoria Agrimony
Angelica sylvestris Wild Angelica
Arctium minus Lesser Burdock
Armoracia rusticana Horse-radish
Arum maculatum Lords-and-Ladies
Brachypodium sylvaticum False Brome
Calystegia sepium Hedge Bindweed
Calystegia silvatica Large Bindweed
Cardamine flexuosa Wavy Bitter-cress
Carduus nutans Musk Thistle
Carex flacca Glaucous Sedge
Carex remota Remote Sedge
Carex sylvatica Wood-sedge
Centaurea scabiosa Greater Knapweed
Centaurium erythraea Common Centaury
Centaurium erythraea Common Centaury White flowers
Cerastium fontanum Common Mouse-ear
Chamerion angustifolium Rosebay Willowherb
Circaea lutetiana Enchanter’s-nightshade
Cirsium eriophorum Woolly Thistle
Cirsium palustre Marsh Thistle
Clinopodium vulgare Wild Basil
Convolvulus arvensis Field Bindweed
Dactylorhiza fuchsii Common Spotted-orchid
Daucus carota Wild Carrot
Dipsacus fullonum Teasel
Epilobium hirsutum Great Willowherb
Epipactis palustris Marsh Helleborine
Eupatorium cannabinum Hemp-agrimony
Filipendula ulmaria Meadowsweet
Galium palustre Common Marsh-bedstraw
Galium verum Lady’s Bedstraw
Geranium pyrenaicum Hedgerow Crane’s-bill
Geranium robertianum Herb-Robert
Geum urbanum Wood Avens
Glechoma hederacea Gound-ivy
Gymnadenia densiflora Marsh Fragrant-orchid
Heracleum sphondylium Hogweed
Humulus lupulus Hop
Hypericum hirsutum Hairy St John’s-wort
Hypericum perforatum Perforate St John’s-wort
Impatiens glandulifera Indian Balsam
Inula conyza Ploughman’s-spikenard
Iris foetidissima Stinking Iris
Juncus subnodulosus Blunt-flowered Rush
Knautia arvensis Field Scabious
Lamium album White Dead-nettle
Leucanthemum vulgare Oxeye Daisy
Linaria vulgaris Common Toadflax
Linum catharticum Fairy Flax
Lotus corniculatus Common Bird’s-foot-trefoil
Malva moschata Musk Mallow
Mentha aquatica Water Mint
Mercurialis perennis Dog’s Mercury
Neottia ovata Twayblade
Odontites vernus Red Bartsia
Ononis repens Common Restharrow
Origanum vulgare Wild Marjoram
Pastinaca sativa Wild Parsnip
Phleum pratense Timothy
Pilosella officinarum Mouse-ear Hawkweed
Pimpinella saxifraga Burnet-saxifrage
Plantago lanceolata Ribwort Plantain
Potentilla reptans Creeping Cinquefoil
Poterium sanguisorba Salad Burnet
Prunella vulgaris Selfheal
Pulicaria dysenterica Common Fleabane
Reseda lutea Wild Mignonette
Ribes rubrum Red Currant
Rubus fruticosus agg. Bramble
Rumex sanguineus Wood Dock
Scrophularia auriculata Water Figwort
Sedum acre Biting Stonecrop Leaves
Silene dioica Red Campion
Silene latifolia White Campion
Silene vulgaris Bladder Campion
Solanum dulcamara Bittersweet
Stachys sylvatica Hedge Woundwort
Symphoricarpos rivularis Snowberry
Symphytum officinale Common Comfrey
Tamus communis Black Bryony
Taraxacum officinale agg. Dandelion
Torilis japonica Upright Hedge-parsley
Trifolium pratense Red Clover
Tussilago farfara Colt’s-foot Leaves
Verbascum nigrum Dark Mullein
Verbascum thapsus Great Mullein Leaf rosette
Butterflies species:
Aphantopus hyperanthus Ringlet
Pararge aegeria Speckled Wood
Polygonia c-album Comma
Pyronia tithonus Gatekeeper
Vanessa atalanta Red Admiral
Bird species:
Acrocephalus scirpaceus Reed Warbler
Emberiza calandra Corn Bunting
Parsonage Moor, Cothill, RDNHS trip 16/07/17
Carex sylvatica Wood-sedge
Galium uliginosum Fen Bedstraw
Hypericum tetrapterum Square-stalked St John’s-wort
Lactuca serriola Prickly Lettue
Lotus corniculatus Common Bird’s-foot-trefoil
Mentha aquatica Water Mint
Parnassia palustris Grass-of-Parnassus
Pedicularis palustris Marsh Lousewort
Schoenus nigricans Black Bog-rush

List by Renée Grayer

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