Doncaster Naturalists’ Society visit to Sykehouse Lock, New Junction Canal, Fishlake Covert & Pennyshaw Lane, Saturday 16 September 2023

Leader : John Scott.
Members present : CB; CH.

The group met at 10.30 am in the Car Park at Sykehouse Lock on the New Junction Canal (OS Grid Ref. SE639 162. Post code DN14 9AL).
We walked south along the eastern bank of the canal examining the hedgerow, grassy bank and the riparian/aquatic vegetation along the canal path. Due to the absence of a canal crossing at Smallhedge Bridge and the long walk to the next crossing point, the group decided to leave the elevated canal bank via the overgrown wooden staircase to Stony Lane & Smallhedge Lane and return to the car park via Fishlake Covert, Pennyshore Lane and Kirk Lane.

Notes of interest:
1. Considering the absence of any exposed solid geology in this region of heavy clay soils, Stony Lane lived up to its name by revealing a number of water-worn pebbles of carboniferous sandstone. These would have been deposited here from the northwest by glaciofluvial action at the end of the last glaciation.

2. Three aquatic invasive alien species occurred along the canal, Himalayan Balsam, Orange Balsam and Floating Pennywort. The honey-scented Himalayan Balsam, much beloved of Bumble Bees, was a 19th century horticultural import. Though not known in South Yorkshire according to Lees’ Flora of 1888, it now occurs in profusion along water courses throughout the Doncaster district, characteristically in association with Nettles and Hemlock.
The equally glamorous Orange Balsam was first noted in the NJ Canal (its first Doncaster locality) by Louise Hill in September 2008. The Nats two visits to the Canal this year witnessing its spread. The Floating Pennywort, first noticed in the Don in 2010 has only recently colonised the NJ Canal, its presence not mentioned here in the South Yorkshire Plant Atlas (2011). Our visits this year have found it, sometimes in large floating mounds, from the Went Footbridge in the north to Smallhedge Bridge.

3. John drew our attention to subtle east/west ‘ridge and furrow’ undulations in the floor of Fishlake Covert. This indicated the site had been under arable management prior to its establishment as a Hunting Covert. Presumably this land-use change took place after the local (Hatfield, Thorne, Fishlake, Stainforth & Sykehouse) enclosure award was enacted in 1825. The wood is currently managed for game bird (Pheasant) rearing.

Table 1
Common Name Latin Name SE6316

Canal Bank


Canal Bank


Canal Bank


Fishlake Covert


Pennyshore Lane

Alder, Common Alnus glutinosa * * *      
Alder, Italian Alnus cordata         *  
Amphibious Bistort Polygonum amphibium   * *      
Angelica Angelica sylvestris     * * *  
Annual Meadow-grass Poa annua * * * * *  
Arum Arum maculatum         *  
Ash Fraxinus excelsior * * * * *  
Balsam, Himalayan Impatiens glandulifera * *        
Balsam, Orange Impatiens capensis * * *      
Bindweed, Great Calystegia silvatica         *  
Bird’s-foot Trefoil Lotus corniculatus * * *      
Black Bryony Tamus communis         *  
Black Medick Medicago lupulina * * *      
Blackthorn Prunus spinose * * *      
Bracken Pteridium aquilinum       * *  
Bramble Rubus fruticosus agg. * * * * *  
Broad-leaved Dock Rumex obtusifolius * * * * *  
Broad-leaved Willowherb Epilobium montanum         *  
Burdock, Greater Arctium lappa         *  
Buttercup, Creeping Ranunculus repens * * * * *  
Chickweed, Common Stellaria media * * *      
Cleavers Galium aparine       * *  
Clover, Red Trifolium pratense * * *      
Clover, White Trifolium repens * * *      
Cock’s-foot Grass Dactylis glomerata * * * * *  
Coltsfoot Tussilago farfara * * *      
Corn Mint Mentha arvensis     *      
Couch Grass Agropyron repens         *  
Cow Parsley Anthriscus sylvestris * * * * *  
Cranesbill, Cut-leaved Geranium dissectum         *  
Creeping Cinquefoil Potentilla reptans * * *      
Creeping Soft-grass Holcus mollis   * * * *  
Currant, Red Ribes rubrum agg.       *    
Daisy Bellis perennis * * *      
Dandelion Taraxacum officinale * * *      
Deadnettle, White Lamium album * * * * *  
Dog Rose Rosa canina * * * *    
Dogwood Cornus sanguinea         *  
Dove’s-foot Crane’s-bill Geranium molle * * *      
Elder Sambucus nigra * * * * *  
Enchanter’s Nightshade Circaea lutetiana       *    
False Fox-sedge Carex otrubae * * *   *  
False Oat-grass Arrhenatherum elatius * * *   *  
Fat Hen Chenopodium album            
Fern, Broad-buckler Dryopteris dilitata       * *  
Fern, Male Dryopteris felix-mas * * * * *  
Field Maple Acer campestre   * *      
Fleabane, Common Pulicaria dysenterica     *      
Foxglove Digitalis purpurea       *    
Giant Fescue Festuca gigantia       * *  
Gipsywort Lycopus europaeus * * *      
Goat Willow Salix caprea         *  
Greater Pond Sedge Carex riparia       *    
Greater Stitchwort Stellaria holostea * * * * *  
Ground Ivy Glechoma hederacea         *  
Groundsel Senecio vulgaris       * *  
Hawthorn Crataegus monogyna * * * * *  
Hazel Corylus avellana * * * * *  
Heliotrope sp. Petasites sp.         *  
Hemlock Conium maculatum   * * * *  
Herb Bennet Geum urbanum * * * * *  
Herb Robert Geranium robertianum * * * * *  
Hogweed Heracleum sphondylium * * * * *  
Holly Ilex aquifolium       *    
Honeysuckle Lonicera periclymenum       * *  
Horse Chestnut Aesculus hippocastanum * * *      
Ivy Hedera helix * * * *    
Knapweed, Common Centaurea nigra * * *   *  
Knotgrass Polygonum aviculare * * *      
Lesser Pond-sedge Carex acutiformis       *    
Mallow, Musk Malva moschata * * *      
Maple, Field Acer campestre         *  
Maple, Norway Acer platanoides   *        
Meadow Vetchling Lathyrus pratensis * * *      
Meadowsweet Filipendula ulmaria * * * *    
Mouse-ear, Common Cerastium fontanum * * *      
Mugwort Artemisia vulgaris * * *      
Mustard, Hedge Sisymbrium officinale * * *      
Nettle Urtica dioica * * *      
Nightshade, Woody Solanum dulcamara * * *      
Oak, Pedunculate or Common Quercus robur * * * * *  
Oat, Common Avena sativa         *  
Osier Salix viminalis         *  
Ox-eye Daisy Leucanthemum vulgare * * *      
Pennywort, Floating Hydrocotyle ranunculoides * * *     Also SE6416 + 6417
Perennial Rye-grass Lolium perenne * * *   *  
Perennial Sow-thistle Sonchus arvensis * * *      
Plantain, Rat-tail Plantago major * * *   *  
Plantain, Ribwort Plantago lanceolatum * * *   *  
Plum, Wild Prunus domestica         *  
Privet, Wild Ligustrum vulgare       *    
Ragwort, Common Senecio jacobaea * * *      
Reed Sweet-grass Glyceria maxima * * * * *  
Scentless Mayweed Matricaria perforata         *  
Silver Birch Betula pendula       * *  
Skullcap Scutellaria gallericulata * * *      
Soft Rush Juncus effusus     *      
Stinging Nettle Urtica dioica * * * * *  
Sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus       *    
Tansy Tanacetum vulgare * * *   *  
Thistle, Creeping Cirsium arvense * * * *    
Thistle, Marsh Cirsium palustre       *    
Thistle, Spear Cirsium vulgare * * *      
Three-veined Sandwort Moeringia trinervia       *    
Trifid Bur Marigold Bidens tripartita   *        
Upright Hedge Parsley Torilis japonica         *  
Wall Barley (grass) Hordeum murinum            
Willowherb, Great Epilobium hirsutum * * *      
Willowherb, Rosebay Chamerion angustifolium * * *      
Wood Brome Bromus ramosus         *  
Wood Millet Milium effusum       *    
Woundwort, Hedge Stachys sylvatica * * *      
Woundwort, Marsh Stachys palustris * * *      
Yarrow Achillea millefolium * * *      
Yellow Waterlily Nuphar lutea * * *      
Yorkshire Fog Holcus lanatus * * *      


Sykehouse Lock, New Junction Canal, Fishlake Covert & Pennyshaw Lane
Common Name Latin Name Notes.
Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum Hunting insects along ditches and paths around Fishlake Covert.
Green-veined White Butterfly Pieris napi Fishlake Covert
Hornet Vespa crabro Active nest in upturned tree root-plate in ditch adjacent to Fishlake Covert. Much ‘toing and froing’ of hornets while we sat on adjacent log having lunch. Most emerging hornets headed off on same compass-bearing (south-west) to forage.
Nurseryweb Spider Pisaura mirabiis In dry grass adjacent to Fishlake Covert
Pond Skaters Gerris (? lacustris) Large numbers along all sections of the canal, concentrating within 3m of the bank.
Red Admiral Butterfly Vanessa atalanta Fishlake Covert
Speckled Wood Butterfly Pararge aegeria Fishlake Covert
Common Frog Rana temporaria Bright yellow/green young specimen by ditch along Pennyshaw Lane.
Blackbird Turdus merula All in or over Fishlake Covert
Blue Tit  Cyanistes caeruleus  
Buzzard Buteo buteo  
Magpie Pica pica  
Robin (singing) Erithacus rubecula  
Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus  
Mole Talpa europaea Fresh hills along canal bank
Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus Footprints (slots) in clay soil of paths and ditches in and around Fishlake Covert.


Doncaster Naturalists’ Society visit to the Yorkshire Arboretum, Castle Howard, Wednesday 13 September 2023

Leader : Tom Higginbottom.
Members present : IF, TH, TH, NB, CH, SB, JC and SC.

Joint meeting with the British Plant Gall Society at the Yorkshire Arboretum, Castle Howard.

We assembled in the car park and then followed a trail up towards Bracken Hill. The main focus for members of the British Plant Gall Society was to make a complete list of galls found and their hosts. Tom has compiled the list for the BPGS and the Arboretum. This report will mention a few galls but also feature some  other species  which were photographed by Tricia Haigh and myself and a spider discovered by Colin. To identify the photographer each figure number is followed by either NB for Nora Boyle or TH for Tricia Haigh.

We had only just started looking at oak trees when we came across 3 species of fungi, Fly Agaric, Weeping Widow and Southern Bracket.

See figure 1 (NB) Weeping Widow, figure 2 (NB) Southern bracket

Most of the galls we discovered were on species of Oak of which there were many, so many that when you enter the arboretum you can pick up an Oak Tree Trail to follow.

Of particular interest was an example of both the sexual generation and asexual generation of Andricus grossulariae on Lebanon oak Quercus libania. The asexual generation forms  on lateral and terminal buds and has long thin green rectangular spines bright green at first but then going bright red. Seen here with old Knopper galls, figure 3 (NB) .

The sexual generation is rounded with an apical point ,green at first then becoming brown as it hardens. The latter persisting on trees until the autumn. See figure 4 (NB).

Another gall which was new to me which appears in the centre of figure 5 (NB) Is an early stage in the development of Andricus glandulae which is caused by a gall wasp. When mature it is pear shaped and hairy.

Figure 6 (TH) shows Silk button spangle galls Neuroterus numismalis found on an oak tree near to the lake. Interestingly there were only a few examples found. 

As mentioned previously a variety of oak species were found, these two with interesting acorns. The first figure 7 (NB) on Quercus x kewensis and the second figure 8 (NB) on Quercus macrolepis Valencia Oak.

As Tricia was walking round the Arboretum she photographed several examples of sawflies. The white fluffy larva in figure 9 (TH) is an early instar stage of the Alder Sawfly Eriocampa ovata on the underside of an Alder Alnus glutinosa leaf. The white powdery layer is supposed to camouflage the larva as a bird dropping! Later instars loose the white powdery camouflage layer and reveal themselves as actual sawfly larvae with a green appearance. Colin Howes discovered these sawflies by the lake devouring a common waterside Sallow Salix sp. of some sort, figure 10 (TH).

Another sawfly found was Tenthredo scrophulariae, the figwort sawfly which are still feeding, primarily on figwort leaves, in September but will soon hibernate in October, figures 11 (TH) and 12 (TH).

Another interesting find was the bright red and yellow larva of the moth Grey Dagger Acronicta psi figure 13 (TH) which will pupate later in the year and overwinter as a pupa.

Tricia photographed many species, some photographs of which can be seen at the end of this report but this one fly Sturmia bella figure 14 is included in this report because of its parasitic lifestyle. The female lays its eggs on nettle leaves, the food plant of several butterflies including Small Tortoiseshell whose caterpillars consume the eggs unwittingly along with the leaves. The fly maggots hatch in the caterpillars’ gut and literally eats them alive.

Colin’s interest in spiders led him to discover this  Four-spotted orbweb spider, Araneus quadratus figure 15 (NB) photographed on Colin’s gardening gloves! Notice the banded legs and 4 spots on the body.

Further photos taken by Tricia Haigh on the day.

Doncaster Naturalists’ Society visit to Seckar Wood, Wakefield, Wednesday 6 September 2023

Leader : Tom Higginbottom.
Members present : IF; JB; CH.

Location: SE235 142 between Lawns Dike to the north, Seckar Lane to the south, Intake Lane to the west and the A61 Wakefield-Barnsley Road to the east. The site car Park is off Seckar Lane.

Seckar Wood is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, managed as a Local Nature Reserve by the Wakefield Metropolitan District Council. This undulating site extends over 46.45 ha or 114.78 acres and includes a variety of habitats including ancient woodland, heathland and wetland.

Unlike sites in lowland Doncaster, Seckar Wood is positively alpine at 70m, so the Oaks are mainly Sessile Oak Quercus petraea rather than Quercus robur and the Gorse on the heathland is Western Gorse Ulex gallii rather than Ulex europaeus.

In the springtime the woodland floor is blue with carpets of Bluebells and in late summer (now) the heathland is purple and honey-scented with carpets of Heather.

For further information visit:

Seckar Wood
Scientific name Vernacular name
AVascular P  
Acer pseudoplatanus Sycamore
Alliaria petiolate Garlic Mustard
Angelica sylvestris Angelica
Arctium minus Lesser Burdock
Betula pendula Silver Birch
Calluna vulgaris Heather
Carex pendula Pendulous Sedge
Circaea lutetiana Enchanters Nightshade
Circium vulgare Spear Thistle
Cirsium arvense Creeping Thistle
Corylus avellana Hazel
Dryopteris filix-mas Male Fern
Epilobium angustifolium Rosebay
Filipendula ulmaria Meadowsweet
Holcus mollis Creeping Soft-grass
Hyacinthoides non-scripta Bluebell (dead inflorescences)
Ilex aquifolium Holly
Lonicera periclymenum Honeysuckle
Pteridium aquilinum Bracken
Quercus petraea Sessile Oak
Ranunculus repens Creeping Buttercup
Rubus fruticosus agg. Bramble
Rumx obtusifolius Broad-leaved Dock
Salix x fragilis Crack Willow
Sambucus nigra Elder
Stachys sylvatica Hedge Woundwort
Ulex gallii Western Gorse
Urtica dioica Stinging Nettle
Viburnum opulus Guelder Rose
Agalis io Peacock Butterfly (nectaring on sap run)
Pararge aegaria Speckled Wood Butterfly (Many in sun-lit glades)
Buteo buteo Buzzard
Erithacus rubecula Robin
Turdus merula Blackbird
Capreolus capreolus Roe Deer (2 in car park)
Oryctolagus cuniculus Rabbit (droppings)
Sciurus carolensis Grey Squirrel
Rana temporaria Common Frog (froglets near roadside pond).