Hurst Lane Gravel Pits. – Sunday, 24th August 2021

Leader: Geoff Carreck
Nine members attended this expedition on the afternoon of 24 August. The visit encompassed a wooded area, a hummocky sandy area popular with off-road motor cyclists, and a wet area around the gravel pits.

The weather was overcast, which accounted for the dearth of dragonflies, which were abundant two days previously. Few birds were seen, due to the time of year. The gravel pits often harbour fair numbers of tufted duck and pochard, but only two coots swam into sight today. Nevertheless, we managed to hear a green woodpecker. However, some interesting plants were seen, including the specialities of the site, bog pimpernel and yellow bartsia.

We walked from the lay-by on a track through the woods, carefully negotiating a burnt-out car. Several specimens of vervain, tutsan with ripe berries, and pale persicaria were noted near this landmark. As the path opened out on to a sandy plain, yellow-wort, scarlet pimpernel and perforate St. John’s-wort came into view. A lightly grassed open area yielded soapwort, evening primroses, marsh cudweed and leaves suggestive of heath dog violet (worth a return visit in the spring, as this species is under-reported).

We continued to a muddy area, exhibiting filamentous algae and an example of toad rush, diminished over the past two days by rabbits. Numerous examples of weld lay about the route. Reaching a promontory overlooking the gravel pit, we noted pale toadflax and a fuchsia in its stony bank. We descended to the west side of the water, noting field madder and hare’s-foot clover on the way, to reach a large patch of bog pimpernel. Skirting the gravel pit, we found common club-rush, bulrush and Cyprus sedge. Further along we discovered more bog pimpernel and yellow bartsia, and a colony of bristle club-rush.

Returning across the sand, we found rosettes of a stonecrop, probably the Caucasian (Sedum spurium).
Several examples of bugloss (a declining plant in Britain) were observed.

The visit lasted 2 hours 15 minutes.

Geoffrey c Carreck.

Mothing at Austerfield  – Tuesday, 17th August 2021

Leader: Joyce Simmons

Wadworth Shrubbery and Gospel Well – Friday, 13th August 2021 

Leader: C.A.Howes
Members attending: Caroline Barras; June Burchell; Jim Burnett; Mick Oliver
The following list has been compiled from notes made by the group.

The group met at 2pm on Wadworth Hall Road, between the Community recreation ground and the 15th century Parish Church of St John the Baptist.

Pre-meeting observations: The Local Authority Culture, Leisure & Tourism staff had just completed mowing the sports field, presumably in readiness for a week end cricket match. The outfield had been strimmed and the cricket square immaculately close-mown and taped off to prevent damage. Interestingly the recent mowing had disturbed many flying insects which in turn had attracted 5+ Swallows Hirundo rustica which in the strong westerly wind were hawking close to the ground. 3 Pied Wagtails Motacilla alba were focussed on Cricket square, hunting on foot, picking insects off by making their characteristic short dashing runs. Despite the differing hunting techniques of the two species, the Swallows made persistent and prolonged aerial attacks on the wagtails, attempting to drive them away from this temporary food resource.

The west-facing limestone wall of the extensive churchyard was interesting in hosting numerous clumps of the evergreen fern Wall Rue Asplenium ruta-muraria, 146 clumps, together with 1 Hart’s-tongue Fern Asplenium scolopendrium were counted growing out of the lime mortar.

The group proceeded to the shrubbery along Wadworth Hall Lane, observing the flora of the substantial limestone garden walls of the properties en-route. Populations of Wall rue was a regular feature, though at one property the front wall was graced with swags of Ivy-leaved Toadflax Cymbalaria muralis and a population of Hart’s –tongue Fern with ornate ‘pinnate’ leaf tips.

We entered ‘The Shrubbery’ at the eastern gate and proceeded along the upper path with the boundary hedgerow on our left and the steeply sloping woodland floor to our right, emerging onto the mown verge at the top of Tofield Lane. We then returned via the lower path encountering the surviving sections of the retaining ‘Ha-ha’ wall, the ‘Gospell Well’ and finally the pond at the site’s north-eastern corner.

The entomology of the water course emanating from the ‘Gospel Well’ and conducted to the pond would repay further investigation. The associated stonework could also provide additional bryophyte (mosses & liverworts) records.

The low Magnesian Limestone retaining wall of dressed limestone blocks with its rounded cap stones which forms the ‘ha-ha’, is presumably a feature of the landscaping of the grounds, gardens and walks of Wadworth Hall, constructed in the 1760s by the celebrated architect James Paine.

‘Ha-ha’s’ (usually on elevated sites and based on steeply descending land forms terminating in a stout retaining wall) were constructed to provide an invisible barrier a) to prevent grazing livestock from entering gardens, lawns or woods used by the promenading gentry and b) to provide the said gentry with unobscured views over the surrounding landscape.
Today the adjacent land is not grazed but under arable management and the predominant landscape features are traffic jams on the A1(M) the M18 and the silver glinting roofs of the expanding population of ‘logistics’ warehousing.

The afternoon was rounded off by a visit conducted by Mike Oliver to the churchyard of Wadworth Parish Church. The flora was influenced by the prevailing mag. limestone soil type but sadly the more species rich area had been mown so the full complement of species was not revealed. However the presence of Hoary Plantain, Bird’s-foot trefoil Lotus corniculatus, Glaucous Sedge Carex flacca, Knapweed Centaurea nigra, Sorrel Rumex acetosa and Lady’s Bedstraw Galium verum was indicative of the biodiversity of the habitat.
Whilst admiring the architectural styles of the church we noticed growing from the capping stones of north aisle were four plants of the elegant Maidenhair Fern Asplenium trichomanes, enterprisingly identified with the help of June’s binoculars and Jim’s flora. The all-knowing Mr Oliver then showed us a neighbouring site for this species, growing from the lime mortar of the upper course of an uncharacteristically red brick wall. Evidence that a bird of prey had once roosted above one of the east windows was a cache of long bones of a Starling-sized bird. The final tick of the day was a circling Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta.

The following list was compiled from notebook entries made on the visit of the Doncaster Naturalists’ Society on the afternoon of Friday 13th August 2021.



Wadworth Shrubbery
Botanical Name Vernacular Name
Acer campestre  Field Maple
Acer pseudoplatanus  Sycamore
Aconitum napellus  Monk’s Hood
Aegopodium podagraria  Ground Eder
Aesculus hippocastanum Horse Chestnut
Alliaria petiolata Garlic Mustard
Anthriscus sylvestris Cow Parsley
Aquilegia vulgaris Columbine
Arctium minus Lesser Bur-dock
Arrhenatherum elatius False Oat-grass
Artemisia vulgaris Mugwort
Arum maculatum Lords-and-Ladies
Ballota nigra Black Horehound
Brachypodium sylvaticum False Brome
Carex flacca Glaucous Sedge
Carex sylvatica Wood Sedge
Centaurea nigra Common Knapweed
Cirsium arvense Creeping Thistle
Cirsium vulgare Spear Thistle
Conocephalum ?conicum A Thalloid Liverwort
Cornus sanguinea Dogwood
Corylus avellana Hazel
Crataegus monogyna Hawthorn
Dactylis glomerata Cock’s-foot
Digitalis purpurea Foxglove
Dryopteris dilitata Broad Buckler-fern
Dryopteris filix-mas Male Fern
Epilobium montanum Broad-leaved Willowherb .
Fagus sylvatica Beech
Fraxinus excelsior Ash
Galium aparine Cleavers
Galium odoratum Woodruff
Geranium robertianum Herb Robert
Geum urbanum Wood Avens
Glechoma hederacea Ground Ivy
Hedera helix Ivy
Heracleum sphondylium Hogweed
Hordeum murinum Wall Barley
Hyacinthoides non-scripta   Bluebell
Ilex aquifolium Holly
Iris pseudacorus Yellow Iris
Laburnum anagyrioides Laburnum
Lapsana communis Nipplewort
Lemna minor Common Duckweed
Ligustrum vulgare Wild Privet
Lolium perenne Perennial Rye-grass
Mahonia aquifolium Oregon Grape
Melica uniflora Wood Melic
Mercurialis perennis Dog’s Mercury
Mycelis muralis Wall lettuce
Plantago lanceolata Ribwort Plantain
Plantago major Rat-tail Plantain
Prunella vulgaris Selfheal
Prunus avium Wild Cherry
Prunus spinosa Blackthorn
Quercus robur Pedunculate Oak
Ranunculus repens Creeping Buttercup
Ribes uva-crispa Gooseberry
Rosa sp Rose sp
Rubus fruticosus agg. Bramble
Rubus ideus Raspberry
Rumex obtusifolius Broad Dock
Ruscus aculeatus Butchers’s-broom
Sambucus nigra Elder
Sanicula europaea Sanicle
Senecio jacobaea Common Ragwort
Sisymbrium officinale Hedge Mustard
Stachys sylvatica Hedge Woundwort
Symphoricarpos rivularis Snowberry
Syringa vulgaris Lilac
Tamus communis Black Bryony
Taraxacum officinalis agg Dandelion
Taxus baccata Yew
Tilia x vulgaris Hybrid Lime
Tussilago farfara Colt’s-foot
Ulmus sp. Elm (suckering population)  
Veronica chamaedrys Germander Speedwell
Vinca minor Lesser Periwinkle
Viola riviniana Common Dog Violet
Phylloscopus collybita Chiffchaff
Troglodytes troglodytes Wren
Columba palumbus Wood Pigeon
LEPIDOPTERA  (Butterflies & Moths)  
Cameraria ohridella (micro-moth) Forming leaf-mines on Horse Chestnut foliage.  
Celastrina argiolus Holly Blue (in Wadworth Hall Lane)
Leucoptera laburnella (micro-moth) Forming ‘blotch’ mines on Laburnum foliage.
Pararge aegeria Speckled Wood
Pieris brassicae Large White
HEMIPTERA (Heteroptera)  Water bugs    
Gerris sp. Pond Skater (on surface of pond)
Notonecta glauca Backswimmer (many under the surface of pond)  
Velia caprai Water Cricket (in metal grilled water cisterns)
Jaapiella veronicae (midge) Galls on terminal buds of  Germander Speedwell
Laetiporus sulphureus ‘Chicken of the woods’ growing on ancient Yew Trunk  
Rhytisma acerinum  
Glass Park & Canal – Wednesday, 11th August 2021

Leader: Louise Hill

Brockadale Evening Walk – Wednesday, 4th August 2021

Leader: Joyce Simmons