Habitat restoration at Quarrington Quarry, July 2019

This month I decided on an early morning run up to the quarry as the forecast was for another very hot day. With a couple of notable exceptions, the vegetation on both the newly-colonised ground and the older spoil was not so very different to last month. The newly-colonised ground has greened up a bit now and one or two of the plants which flowered early in the season, like Fumitory, are staging something of a comeback with less competition from long grass.

More of a surprise is the crop of tiny field pansies starring the grass – from a distance the flowers are small enough to be mistaken for Eyebright!  Though they are a common weed of arable field margins, I haven’t seen them around Quarrington Hill before.  

Around the edges of the disturbed ground the late summer Apiaceae are coming into flower now including my favourite, Wild carrot, with its central dark floret.  The feathery bracts and bracteoles beneath the flower head, or umbel, look rather like an Elizabethan ruff. The central red floret, pigmented with anthocyanins, is supposed to help attract pollinating insects such as the soldier beetles which often cover carrot umbels at this time of year.  

The knapweeds are out too now, acting as a magnet for a range of pollinating butterflies. The other big change is that, as at Raisby Hill, Fragrant orchids have largely replaced last month’s spotted and marsh orchids.

This month I found 12 species in flower on the newly-recolonised disturbed ground as compared to 26 on the adjacent older spoil with only Rosebay willowherb in both areas – perhaps no surprise, given its invasive tendencies!

    Disturbed ground ‘Original’ vegetation on older spoil
Creeping buttercup Ranunculus repens p  
Common fumitory Fumaria officinalis p  
Slender St John’s-wort Hypericum pulchrum   p  
Field pansy Viola arvensis   p  
Dame’s violet Hesperis matronalis   p  
Charlock Sinapis arvensis   p  
Weld Reseda luteola   p  
Scarlet pimpernel Anagallis arvensis   p  
Creeping cinquefoil Potentilla reptans   p  
Blackberry Rubus fruticosus agg.     p
Bird’s-foot-trefoil Lotus corniculatus     p
Black medick   Medicago lupulinus   p
Red clover Trifolium pratense   p  
Bush vetch Vicia sepium     p
Rosebay willowherb Chamerion angustifolium   p p
American willowherb Epilobium ciliatum   p
Rough chervil   Chaerophyllum temulum p  
Wild carrot Daucus carota ssp. carota     p
Upright hedge-parsley Torilis japonica p    
Ribwort plantain Plantago lanceolata     p
Eyebright Euphrasia sp.     p
Harebell Campanula rotundifolia   p
Crosswort   Cruciata laevipes   p
Welted thistle Carduus crispus   p  
Common knapweed Centaurea nigra     p
Greater knapweed Centaurea scabiosa     p
Marsh hawk’s beard Crepis paludosa     p
Hawkweed Hieracium agg.     p
Rough hawkbit Leontodon hispidus     p
Common ragwort Jacobaea vulgaris     p
Prickly sow-thistle Sonchus asper     p
Smooth Sow-thistle Sonchus oleraceus   p  
Common spotted-orchid Dactylorhiza fuchsii     p
Marsh fragrant-orchid Gymnadenia densiflora     p
Common fragrant-orchid Gymnadenia conopsea     p
Tufted hair-grass Deschampsia cespitosa     p
Red fescue   Festuca rubra   p

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