Bradford Botany Group

Rougemont Carr and Weeton Lanes

April 26 th 2014

 

 

Rougemont Carr is situated next to the River Wharfe, approximately six miles east of Otley. As soon as we arrived at the car park it was clear that spring had really got going, with the abundant fresh green leaves and the air full of birdsong. 16 people attended, despite the gloomy weather forecast and cold start to the day. The church had kindly given us permission to use their car park for a small fee.

 

We began by exploring the churchyard next to the car park, where the highlights were goldilocks buttercup, primrose, cowslip and false oxlip. The latter is the hybrid between primrose and cowslip. The flowers are larger and more open than cowslip and are intermediate in colour between the parent species.

Hop leaves

The group then progressed down the quiet lane towards Rougemont Carr. The hedgerows were bursting into life, with newly emerged leaves of field maple and abundant apple blossom. Below the hedge were spring flowers including greater stitchwort, bush vetch, cow parsley, ground ivy and red and white dead nettles. By this time the sun had come out and a male orange tip butterfly was seen in flight. The group was treated to a close view of a red kite as it flew above fields next to the lane. The climbing stems of hop were found, growing abundantly on a fence.

Common Fiddleneck

In an area of disturbed ground next to the lane, a good patch of common fiddleneck was found. The small yellow flowers had only just emerged, not yet showing the characteristic coiled flower stem. This is an introduction from North America and was a new species to many of the group. We then proceeded across the fields and over a small but attractive old packhorse bridge, to enter the woodland at Rougemont Carr. This was the site of a castle which was probably built in the twelfth century. All that can now be seen is the bank and ditch encircling the site.
 

Well before we entered the woodland, the sweet scent of bluebells was clearly detectable. The magnificent bluebell display was a real treat. We also saw the occasional white variety and a few pale pink specimens.

Bluebell display at Rougemont Carr

A large fallen tree provided the perfect lunch spot, with moschatel seen in flower and my first whitethroat of the year heard singing. The group then made its way through the sea of bluebells, towards the banks of the River Wharfe. On the way, a bluebell was seen which had wider leaves than expected for our native bluebell and the blue flowers appeared to spiral around the stem, suggesting that this could be a hybrid with the Spanish bluebell. However, after some discussion and checking of books, it was concluded that it was the native bluebell because the flowers had cream-coloured anthers, whereas blue-flowered Spanish bluebells have blue anthers.

 

After negotiating the steep path down to the river the group saw large patches of ramsons in flower, plus few flowered leek and toothwort. Of particular note, was a white variety of toothwort, with no pigment.

  Neil explained to the group that the leaves of lords and ladies usually have spots in the south of England but became less spotted further north. Unspotted leaves were abundant in the woodland, but a spotted leaf was found by an eagle-eyed member.
  Walking back into the centre of the woodland, a large patch of leopard’s-bane leaves was found. A heated discussion was held over the identification, particularly focusing on whether the leaves were of hairy violet or leopard’s-bane, but a few flower buds were spotted that soon resolved the matter.

Hawthorn in flower

Carmen then led us along a different lane, back into Weeton. On the way, a yellow hammer was heard singing and hawthorn was in flower in the hedges. Next to a ditch by the main road through Weeton, we admired the large showy yellow flowers of a garden hybrid of Leopard’s-bane. Greater celandine was also seen and, although not yet in flower, Andrew picked a leaf to show the characteristic orange sap. Back at the car park, Andrew thanked Carmen for leading this delightful and interesting walk.

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