FRIDAY 24TH JULY 2020

DEEP DALE, DERBYS. + FAM

A very pleasant excursion to the Peak District. Just a little over 1 hour and 10 minutes drive found us parked up a little north of Ashford in the Water by 10am for a stroll into Deep Dale and within minutes, the first unfamiliar plant of the day; a tall thing with burrs on.

Slowly the inner computer processed this and came up with Small Teasel, and a check in the picture book (don’t tell Dave) found a close match. Wife and daughter would have wept if they’d had to put up with me trawling through a flora and Chico would have died of frustration on entering a wonderful new location and been told to sit.

Polypody and Orpine

I’m pretty sure I’ve been here before, and quite recently, but I must have just passed through on a long walk. Botanically it is a pristine version of Gotham Hills with plants that we struggled to find there on Tuesday being abundant here, with a few more besides. The Orpine (Sedum telephium) reminded me of our garden ‘Ice Plant’ that, as a child used to attract so many late summer butterflies to our garden. I think that one is Sedum spectabile (Butterfly Stonecrop).

Fern-wise there is no comparison and Zoe decided we should have a limestone rockery in the garden, clothed as here, with Maidenhair Spleenwort.

Sunshine was in short supply for much of the morning but there was enough to entice a few lepidoptera into activity including a Dark Green Fritillary or two and maybe a couple of Wall Browns but the breeze drifted them strongly and the latter’s determination must stay at uncertain – its flight period suggest this would be a late date for a spring generation and an early date for a second generation and in this century, I’ve had very little experience of the species.

Pyrausta despicata

This poor photo is of a moth I’ve not knowingly seen before but I’m reasonably certain of the id. It is described as being found in suitably chalky and limestone habitats throughout the British Isles and it would be interesting to know if that includes Gotham. Weirdly its food-plants are the ubiquitous plantains, begging the question of why it only likes plantains on chalky soils – perhaps it prefers Plantago media, which was showing well?

After a sluggish inspection of the dale, we set off for a more brisk walk up the valley to the village of Sheldon but the botanical interest remained and included this showy specimen.

Large-flowered Hemp-nettle

Galeopsis speciosa is a new one for me but easily achieved given its obvious affiliation to the lamiaceae and its showy flowers. Nationally it probably ranks as the scarcest plant of the day though for me, it was just as new as Wall Lettuce (Mycelis muralis) which stuck me as like Nipplewort but worth a closer look. Its leaves are totally different.

Stuff not already mentioned: a year tick for Redstart, the now expected Ravens, plus Crosswort, Common Rockrose, Wild Thyme, Burnet Saxifrage, Wood Sage and Wild Marjoram … and what I think is Brittle Bladder Fern:

Cytstopteris fragilis?