Area: 5.1 hectares.
Description and Reasons for Notification:
A New Site, adjacent to Ribsons Meadows SSSI.
This site is important for its herb-rich grassland communities. In addition, the scrub and woodland support a high number of birds and insects.
The meadow is generally level and, being situated on the clayey soils derived from the underlying Carboniferous shales, drains relatively slowly with some seasonal water-logging.
Purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea dominates the sward, with other grasses including heath-grass Danthonia decumbens, sweet vernal-grass Anthoxanthum odoratum and velvet bent Agrostis canina. These are accompanied by abundant meadow thistle Cirsium dissectum and sharp-flowered rush Juncus acutiflorus together with other herbs such as bitter vetch Lathyrus montanus, saw-wort Serratula pratensis, sneezewort Achillea ptarmica, devil’s-bit scabious Succisa pratennsis and, more rarely, lesser butterfly orchid Platanthera bifolia. Fleabane Pulicaris dysenterica and meadowsweet Filipendula ulmaria occur in places, with hemp agrimony Eupatorium cannabinum, purple loosestrife Lythrum salicaria and wild angelica Angelica sylvestris.
A minor heathy component is represented by cross-leaved heath Erica tetralix together with creeping willow Salix repens, tormentil Potentilla erecta and mat-grass Nardus stricta. Sedges are frequent and amongst those occurring are, flea sedge C. pulicaris, tawny sedge C. hostiana and glaucous sedge C. flacca.
There is a strip of well established woodland around the site. Pedunculate oak Quercus robur, ash Fraxinus excelsior and hazel Corylus avellana are the main components with willow Salix sp and blackthorn Prunus spinosa forming occasional thickets. Alder buckthorn Frangula alnus and guelder-rose Viburnum opulus also occur. The ground flora supports a good variety of herbs such as tutsan Hypericum androsaemum, sanicle Sanicula europaea, wild strawberry Fragaria vesca, yellow pimpernel Lysimachia nemorum and wood-sorrel Oxalis acetosella.
A rich fauna lives on the site. Over twenty species of butterflies have been recorded, the more nationally scarce of which are wood white Leptidea sinapsis, marsh fritillary Euphydryas aurinia, silver-washed fritillary Argynnis paphia and purple hair-streak Quercusia quercus. A high number of birds breed with typical woodland species occurring such as tree pipit Anthus trivialis, tawny owl Strix aluco, spotted flycatcher Muscicapa stricta, treecreeper Certhia familiaris and great spotted woodpecker Dendrocopus major. Resident mammals include the dormouse Muscardinus avellanarius.