Friday, 1 April 2016

Kirtlington Quarry

A couple of days ago we went to Kirtlington quarry which is around 20 miles from the village - east to Deddington, south to Tackley then a couple of miles east again.   It's a SSSI because of the geology, exposures of Jurassic fossil beds, as described in a JNCC download  It was last worked to provide limestone for cement making over 80 years ago and is now a nature reserve owned, surprisingly, by Cherwell Council.

Later in the year it is a good place to find Dragon's teeth (Tetragonolobus maritimus), but it also has orchids, and I was keen to see if I could successfully use Poland's vegetative key for the first leaves of orchids.  I did find a few leaves but the keys were not that helpful, though I made a tentative identification of a Pyramidal orchid (see photos) and with less certainty a Common twayblade. I will go back in a month or so to check whether I was correct.

There were lots of violets in flower on the quarry floor, which initially I thought were Sweet violets (Viola odorata), rather ignoring the habitat, but when I looked more closely I realised that they were Hairy violets (Viola hirta).

 There were in fact some Sweet violets in flower in a scrap of woodland above the quarry so I could make a direct comparison.  Hairy violets (left) have erect hairs on the flower and leaf stalks whereas Sweet violets (right) has inclined hairs.  

On the way back, near Hook Norton, we saw a rather overweight male muntjac grazing near the road. Now common in southern England, muntjac were an introduction, escapees from Woburn Park in the early 20th century. There is a species description at:   They lack the grace of roe deer and elegance of other deer in the UK, so I am at a loss as to why they were brought to the UK in the first place.

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