Doncaster Naturalists’ Society Excursion to Shaw Wood – April 25th 2024


Twelve members of Doncaster Naturalists met in the Leger Retail Car Park at 10.30 am on Thursday 25th April.

We started the meeting by walking on to Shaw Lane where the two most interesting occurrences were the corky bark  and mite galls on small leaved elm  saplings, and numerous specimens of Green Alkanet with its deep blue flowers. At the end of the lane we veered right  round the edge of the Industrial Estate  into Hag wood along a short section of path lined with Shining Cranesbill. Almost immediately we were walking along paths surrounded by brilliant views of Bluebells and cameras and phones were raised and time was spent composing the best images in front of us.

Photo1. Caroline Barrass photographing bluebells by Nora Boyle

Photo 2.   DNATS members by Caroline Barrass

We meandered through the wood to the railway crossing over which is a bridge leading to two paths, one path to another  entrance to the wood from Armthorpe and another taking us into the rest of the wood. Nearby was an Information Board erected by Doncaster Council, who purchased the wood in 1985, stating that Shaw Wood is actually made up of 3 separate woodland areas planted at different times. These comprise  Corporation Shaw, Streetthorpe Shaw and Armthorpe Shaw, locally referred to as Shaw Wood or Bluebell Wood. The path we followed round the edge of the wooded area took us through all three where we saw more of the  Ancient Woodland indicators including Greater Stitchwort.

Photo 3- Information board by Nora Boyle 

In some areas bluebells were the dominant plant on the woodland floor with a few pockets here and there of wood anemones. But in others, beneath  the mature Beech trees planted by the council, the woodland flora were sparse and the floor covered in last year’s leaves. Although a variety of trees and shrubs were found the majority of trees appeared to be beech, sycamore and oak. The continuity of the bluebells  was broken up by brambles, nettles and the seedlings of beech and sycamore which were more obvious than in the previous week.   In many areas the bright lime green  of the newly emerging beech leaves on beech saplings contrasted with the deep blue of the masses of bluebells. Many of the beech leaves had opened since the recce I carried out last Thursday.

Photo 4- Beech leaves and Bluebells by Caroline Barrass

When we reached the pond I pointed out that by by skirting the edge of the pond and following the edge of an adjacent field one could reach a nearby copse which is located on the edge of Sainsbury’s supermarket car park. Caroline told us that a few weeks ago the pond was filled with frogs and that she could see the floating plants of Water Soldiers. Some members were starting to feel the cold so we pressed on but on another occasion the pond would definitely be an area to examine further.

As we entered  Armthorpe Shaw we began to discover a greater variety of plants such as Herb Robert,Wild Garlic, Variegated Yellow Archangel, Garlic Mustard and Ground Elder.

Photo 5. Herb Robert by Nora Boyle   

Photo 6- Garlic Mustard by Nora Boyle.

As the path took us  closer to the housing estate we also found some garden escapes such as three cornered leek, variegated red dead nettle, a species of  heuchera, and the strap like leaves of montbretia.

Photo7-Three cornered leek by Nora Boyle

Colin has produced a species list  which will eventually appear on the website.

 Ian Farmer concentrated mainly on galls and his report will appear separately.