Cow Myers, Tuesday 23rd May 2019
Leader: Dr Kevin Walker
The programme for the visit to Cow Myers promised Globeflower, orchids, Butterwort and Herb Paris. It delivered on all those – and much more. Fourteen HDNS members including Kevin Walker our leader, assembled at the Lindrick Livery stables, keen to be off exploring since several of us had not visited this particular site before. The weather forecast was warm and fair – perfect conditions for botanising.
Cow Myers is a very special place because it is both an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and a SINC (Site of Importance for Nature Conservation). The site contains an area of limestone irrigated by spring water, a series of wet woodland calcareous flushes.
As we walked through the first meadow spotting several hares through the long grasses, we were joined by Tom Ramsden the landowner, who lives at Sleningford Hall. Tom explained a little about the management of the land and how part of it had been recently grazed by Belted Galloway cattle.
The site is fringed with Alder Alnus glutinosa which is quite extensive in places. Close to the stream we found Globeflower Trollius europaeus and then Alder Buckthorn Frangula alnus, with its seedlings regenerating and forming scrub. Within the carr is a large clearing with many interesting plants including Marsh Lousewort Pedicularis palustris. This plant is a parasite and because it is reddish always looks to me as if somebody has tried to set fire to it. Close by, Bird’s-eye Primrose Primula farinosa was on show with its delicate lilac-pink petals. I was very excited to find Butterwort Pinguicula vulgaris a carnivorous plant complete with its violet and white flowers, as I often see its leaves but no flowers.
Tom Ramsden then invited us to have our lunch in the Witch-of-the-Woods House but we felt reluctant to go indoors on such a lovely day. We chose instead to lunch on the grass, or in a bog, depending upon how lucky you were with the seating plan.
After lunch we meandered into the woodland south of the River Laver, where we came across numerous plants of Herb-Paris Paris quadrifolia. The leaves of Grass of Parnassus Parnassia palustris and the tiny Bog Pimpernel Anagallis tenella were also present, but it was too early for the flowers. A tree highlight for some was finding Bay Willow Salix petandra, with its leaves smelling of balsam. It is also worth mentioning that the numbers of ferns, rushes and sedges we found were quite astonishing. They included Glaucous Sedge Carex flacca, Heath Woodrush Luzula multiflora ssp congesta, Broad Buckler Fern Dryopteris dilatata and Blunt-flowered Rush Juncus subnodulosus. Our final flowers of the day were Early-purple Orchids Orchis mascula in the hedgerows as we drove home. In total our list exceeded well over 100 species. See attached.
Thank you to Kevin Walker for leading and to Muff Upsall for organising.