Field Trip Reports 2011Field_Trip_Reports.html

Saturday 21st May - Glenarm Forest and Straidkilly 

 

After the warmest April on record, the weather finally returned to normal, in time for our trip to Glenarm Forest and Straidkilly Nature Reserve. Fortunately, both venues are well wooded, and we managed to avoid the worst of the wet weather.

Glenarm Forest is now a mixed demesne woodland, which is managed mainly as an amenity area.

There is a prolific ground flora, dominated in many places by dense stands of Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum), the scent of which pervades the whole forest. Ferns abundant and we spent some time identifying the different species, especially differentiating between the Male Fern (Dryopteris filix-mas) and the Scaly Male Fern, (Dryopteris affinis). The group soon became adept at seeing the faint black spots on the leaves, which are the distinguishing feature of the latter species. 

 

Many of the spring flowers were over, but we managed to find the seed heads of both the Early Violet (Viola reichenbachiana) and the Toothwort (Lathraea squamaria). Both Water Avens (Geum rivale), and Wood Avens (Geum urbanum), grow together by the side of the paths, and hybrids between the two species are frequent. We spent some time trying to untangle the three taxa.


After lunch we visited Straidkilly Nature Reserve, which is managed by The Ulster Wildlife Trust. The reserve is classified as Ash wood, even though this species is in fact absent! Hazel is the commonest woody plant. The lower section of the site has an alkaline soil, derived from the underlying limestone, and is by far the most interesting botanically. Twayblade, (Listera ovata) and Common Spotted Orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii), were seen in bud. On one steep slope, we counted at least seventeen fully open flower spikes of the Bird’s Nest Orchid (Neottia nidus-avis). Other uncommon plants found were Wood Vetch (Vicia sylvatica), Lesser Wintergreen (Pyrola minor) and Stone Bramble (Rubus saxatilis). Straidkilly’s rarest plant, Yellow Bird’s Nest (Monotropa hypopitys), does not appear until August. However, the conductor was able to point out the exact location of the largest colony.

Since the weather was still worsening, it was decided to curtail a proposed visit to the only County Antrim site for Seakale (Crambe maritima).

Instead the group finished the trip over tea and scones in Carnlough.

Roger Field

 

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