Raisby Hill Grassland, October 2019

There is a distinctly autumnal feel to the final day of October, when I finally make it to Raisby Hill.  Term has started and I have a new batch of OU students to settle in so free time has been in short supply.  After a couple of frosts and some strong winds, many of the trees have lost their leaves.  Silver birches, growing golden-yellow in the low sun are the beautiful exception.  Lovely as they are, I worry about the scrubby seedlings encroaching on the quarry spoil which is such a good habitat for Dark red helleborines and other orchids.

Birch seedlings growing on the quarry spoil

Much of what was hanging on in flower last month has gone now and there is no sign of things like the Eyebright and Scabious which were still flowering in nearby Bishop Middleham Quarry reserve last week.  There is still a little knapweed and a few Harebells in flower alongside a second flush of Wild thyme, though, and I am stuck again by the delicate beauty of Red clover when looked at up close.

Clockwise from top left: Campanula rotundifolia, Centaurea nigra, Thymus polytrichum and Trifolium pratense

As last month, much of what remains in flower belongs to the daisy family and I see a couple of yellow ones I hadn’t noticed before – Nipplewort, Lapsana communis and Rough hawkbit, Leontodon hispidus.  Alongside theses are the stalwarts I noticed flowering over so many months at Crowtrees LNR last year – White dead-nettle and Herb Robert.

Apart from the flowers, much of the visual interest in this visit came from seed heads and berries, along with some glorious autumn-coloured leaves. I didn’t notice the Bittersweet when it was in flower but the berries are certainly unmissable!

Left to right: Seed heads and fruits of Leontodon sp., Solanum dulcamara and Clinopodium vulgare

Here is what I found in flower this month – much reduced from last month.

Hop trefoil Trifolium campestre  
Red clover Trifolium pratense  
Herb-Robert Geranium robertianum  
Burnet-saxifrage Pimpinella saxifrage  
Yellow-wort Blackstonia perfoliata  
White dead-nettle Lamium album  
Wild thyme Thymus polytrichum  
Harebell Campanula rotundifolia  
Common knapweed Centaurea nigra  
Hawkweed Hieracium agg.  
Nipplewort Lapsana communis  
Rough hawkbit Leontodon hispidus  
Autumn hawkbit Scorzoneroides autumnalis  
Prickly sow-thistle Sonchus oleraceus  


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