Friday, 20 August 2010

Excursion to Rivelin Glen, Sheffield, 01/07/2010

We walked west along Bole Hill Road, dropping down into a wood adjacent to the Hagg Hill lane allotments. Heading through the wood and the allotments, we crossed Hagg Hill Lane and emerged into the pastures shown as Rivelin Glen on the 1:25000 OS map (between Long Lane and the Rivelin Valley Road.

Plants seen and identified
Obviously there was a lot more, but we focused on things that were relatively uncommon, or presented interesting opportunities for using keys. We used either the Field Flora of the British Isles (Stace 1997) or The Revised Wild Flower Key (O'Reilly & Rose 2007).

Athyrium filix-femina (Lady Fern)
Dryopteris dilatata (Broad Buckler Fern)
Dryopteris filix-mas (Male Fern)
Polystichum aculeatum (Hard Shield Fern)
Dryopteris affinis agg. (Scaly Male Fern)
Pteridium aquilinum (Bracken)

Symphytum x uplandicum (Russian Comfrey)
Mercurialis perennis (Dog's Mercury)
Stachys x ambigua (a hybrid Woundwort; Stachys palustris x Stachys sylvatica)
Stachys sylvatica (Hedge Woundwort)
Vicia cracca (Tufted Vetch)
Geranium x oxonianum (Druce's Cranesbill)
Hypochaeris radicata (Cat's Ear)
Galium saxatile (Heath Bedstraw)
Vaccinium myrtillus (Bilberry)
Calluna vulgaris (Heather)
Pilosella officinarum (Mouse Ear Hawkweed)
Centaurea nigra (Knapweed)
Dactylorhiza fuchsii (Common Spotted Orchid).
Prunella vulgaris (Selfheal)
Lotus pedunculatus (Greater Bird's Foot Trefoil)
Hieracium sp. (a Hawkweed)

Juncus effusus (Soft Rush)
Juncus conglomeratus (Compact Rush)
Juncus bulbosus (Bulbous Rush)
Carex viridula odeocarpa (a Yellow Sedge)
Carex remota (Remote Sedge)
Deschampsia flexuosa (Wavy Hair Grass)
Holcus mollis (Creeping Soft Grass)
Alopecurus geniculatus (Marsh Foxtail)
Holcus lanatus (Yorkshire Fog)


According to the Flora of the Sheffield Area (1988), a few of these species have not been recorded for these 1km squares (monads) previously. Particularly notable are Hard Shield Fern and the hybrid Woundwort. Neither have many sites within the city boundary.

Interestingly, Marsh Woundwort (Stachys palustris) was recorded 'by a streamside, in Rivelin Glen' by the Sheffield Naturalists Club in 1910 (in the Flora of the Sheffield Area); one imagines the hybrid plants might be this population, (mis-)recorded in 1910, or the hybridised descendants of it.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Introducing MAGIC

I thought I'd just take a moment to share some neat online tools with you all, to
heighten your enjoyment of the outdoors to hitherto unprecendented levels:

MAGIC (Multi-Agency Geographic Information on the Country(/City?)side): this is basically a free web-based GIS tool, giving you access to a very wide range of publicy available data on the environment. If you chose 'Interactive Map', and then either 'Design my own topic', or 'Rural designations - Statutory', and give it some sort of location to start at, you'll be rewarded with a nice interactive pop-up (so make sure you enable pop-ups on your browser) map of interesting sites.

To avoid information overload, choose 'Design my own topic', and then select SSSIs (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) as a starting point. This should give you a nice range of places to check out. If you are particularly interested in one site, you can use the 'i' for information button to click on any highlighted SSSI. This will give you a new window (MAGIC likes new windows, so if you think something hasn't worked, it's probably in a new window behind the one you've got open), with a link to the Natural England SSSI citation; this is basically a copy of the original document reporting why the site has been protected, and as such will give you hints on what plants and animals you'll be likely to find there.

This is brilliant tool for finding out about the country and city-side all around you. Environmental consultants use it for just the same purpose (or would do it on their own computers by downloading the datasets); developments often require an impact assessment, looking at statutory and non-statutory sites in the surrounding area can provide a quick overview of important places likely to be affected.