R Rabbit Banks

Topography:
Steep hillside

Aspect:
South facing

General Description:
An open heath like hillside forming the top of the incised valley of the River Wear with gorse and broom and fine grasses and some trees. There is a plantation of trees on the crest of the hillside and another below.

Features:
Footpaths down the hillside, some badly eroded by motorcycle use. The western boundary is a ditch and bank of some antiquity now overgrown with trees.

Soil:
Sandy, somewhat acid

Grasses:
Bents (Agrostis spp)
Cocksfoot (Dactylis glomerata)
Tufted hair grass (Deschampsia caespitosa)
Field wood-rush (Luzula campestris)

Ferns:
Absent

Mosses:

Lichens:

Fungi:

How could the area be improved:
More tree planting could be undertaken in blocks where the vegetation is not interesting whilst leaving the heath-like vegetation intact. The prevention of access by motorcyclists would enable the badly eroded tracks to be re-vegetated. Securely fenced blocks of tree planting across the line of the tracks might be effective.

Trees and Shrubs
•Oak (Quercus robur)
•Silver birch (Betula pendula)
•White willow (Salix alba)
•Crack willow (Salix fragilis)
•Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)
•Elder (Sambucus nigra)
•Ash (Fraxinus excelsior)
•Bramble (Rubus fruticosus)
•Gorse (Ulex europaeus)
•Broom (Sarothamnus scoparius)
•White poplar (Populus alba)

Plants
•Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica)
•Creeping thistle (Cirsium arvense)
•Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium)
•Broad-leaved dock (Rumex obtusifolius)
•Rosebay willowherb (Chamaerion angustifolium)
•Sheep’s sorrel (Rumex acetosella)
•Ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata)
•Heath bedstraw (Galium saxatile)
•Tormentil (Potentilla erecta)
•Daisy (Bellis perennis)
•Bird’s foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)
•Bulbous buttercup (Ranunculus bulbosus)

Invertibrates
•St Mark’s fly (Bibio markii)

Mammals

Birds
•Willow warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)
•Linnet
•Yellowhammer
•Bullfinch

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