At the appointed start time of 10.30 am three people gathered in the top car park at Shibden Park, Halifax, wondering where the rest of the party could be. The group of six had been reduced to five by Kevin's withdrawal but two Sues had gone astray. Our leader, Sally, then received a call from Sue Z who was evidently undertaking a tour of the car parks in the area and was given instructions of how to join us but of Sue N there was no sign. It was a bright sunny morning in which to enjoy the autumn tints and the narrow-leaved ash tree which overhangs the car park. By 10.45 there was still no Sue N and so Sally led us off to Cunnery Wood in the steps of Gentleman Jack.
To see salmon leaping is a key part of autumn, and to this end 5 of us left a very wet Shipley to catch the train to Settle. I am pleased to say that the weather here was a lot kinder to us and our 7 mile walk to and from the station was completed in relatively fine conditions. Time was taken along the way to stop and take stock of what was still in flower, the following being seen: smooth sow-thistle, wood avens, meadowsweet and yarrow. Hawkweeds also in evidence - apologies to Alice for non-identification. Julia took time to point out and identify various ferns growing in profusion out of the drystone walls. Bird sightings were few the most notable being a couple of Mandarin ducks, alongside the usual mallard. A dipper was spotted by Julia disappearing downstream but disappointingly no grey wagtail.
Our group of 5 began a short walk from the Car Park which is just off Bingley Rd. The forecast was for a showery day & we did not get lucky! Light rain fell for most of our stroll.
Fungi were seen on various fallen trunks & stumps but virtually none were seen on the woodland floor, so no boletes, milkcaps, russulas, agarics or amanitas. This may be because the woodland is very steep & the predominant trees are sycamores. I have found that the best local woods for fungi are those that contain a lot of birch such as Shipley Glen.
Five of us completed a circular walk through Heaton Woods, Cliffe Woods, Stoney Ridge and looping back through Northcliffe to our starting point. We had been labelled the Striders, but it turns out we are too well trained to always walk at an observing pace on a Tuesday, so our five or so miles took the best part of the day.
Our first stop in Heaton Woods was to look at the Butterbur leaves and note how they had been punctured by the hailstorm a couple of weeks ago. We then had a stop to look at some large old logs covered in Armillaria lutea, a type of honey fungus. The yellow stipe was notable and very attractive. On the whole we just enjoyed looking at the fungi, lacking confident id skills, but we were happy to name the Amethyst Deceivers and Dead Moll’s Fingers (checking in the book to learn the difference between these and Dead Man’s Finger; slimmer, with grey tips if I remember rightly!).
St. Ives Estate Bingley 6th October 2020
While the striders were striding Donald led Margaret, Lorna, Vera and myself on a stroll in the St. Ives estate. From the lower car park we headed to the south of the estate passing through Cuckoo Nest Wood to the original water garden area then climbing up through the wood, accessing the estate buildings and returning to the car park. The leaf canopy, still mostly intact, protected us from the main shower of the day. Most of the paths were remarkably dry. Autumn colour was minimal provided only by thin carpets beneath beech trees and yellowing of some Horse Chestnut leaves. Unfortunately, as elsewhere, this species is suffering from disease.
The weather was glorious for once with a blue sky all morning & temperatures in the mid-twenties. By the time the heavy clouds rolled in we were all on our way home. Alice decided at the outset that she couldn't accompany the group as that would have brought the numbers to 7 so she and Margaret formed their own sub-group and went a different way to the remaining 5 that included Donald, Jean, Marilyn & Sue Z.
Our socially distanced party entered the woods from the entrance at the rear of the main car park and we meandered along for the next 3 hours searching for fungi, with a lengthy break for lunch of course! One of our group, who was sitting on a rock in the woods, complained that she was too hot in the sun!
We had planned to visit this park on the 31st March but sadly, for obvious reasons, had to suspend our entire programme. Later in the year when I was asked for suitable ideas for a fungus foray this seemed an ideal choice, particularly as I know the site well, having led such walks on behalf of the Friends of the Park for the past 2 years. The most suitable habitat is the highest section accessed from the topmost entrance on Park Rd.
This was a figure of 8 walk starting from the car park that lies between the two bodies of water, on the western side of the dam wall. It was a lovely day, albeit not as warm as we would have liked, unlike the awful forecast for the following day which was for rain all day!
We headed south on the western path in the direction of Otley. Little wildlife was encountered but plenty of puddles! The southern flank of the dam wall is a botanical delight & I recalled that many years ago whilst looking over it I saw a pair of Clouded Yellow butterflies. I haven't seen any in the UK since! As I could see lots of Bird's-foot Trefoil I knew it would be ideal habitat for Common Blue butterflies and a total of three were seen but disappointingly no other species? It was probably too breezy & not that warm either. Nothing of note was seen on the eastern side of Swinsty.
Our repeat visit to Rodley this week was undertaken in very wet conditions. A plant list was done and over 80 species were recorded in flower. Tansy was present not only near the Visitor Centre but also scattered elsewhere. Bellflower was found and confirmed as nettle-leaved. The butterfly bank had a wonderful display of crown vetch alongside field and devilsbit scabious as well as toadflax and great and dark mullein. All the wet weather had promoted a lot of healthy growth in Tim's field where quinoa, charlock, barley and pale persicaria were noted amongst others. The new meadow was walked by Alice and Marilyn and an abundance of wild carrot was seen as well as hairy and smooth tare. A new species for Rodley was also noted here, greater knapweed.
Rodley was at its very best today and we were free to enjoy it as we choose. 6 of us met in the car park having taken a variety of forms of transport- car, bicycle or bus/foot. We met up with Graham who gave us a brief introduction to developments on the reserve (he had kindly opened the disabled toilet for our use).The plan was to look at the plants in the ponds and surrounds including the two education ponds (used by children for pond dipping) and several dragonfly ponds.The ponds were noticeably overgrown which was much to our liking (Water soldier had taken over one or two of the ponds). It was good to have Joan with us to assist with identification, no need to trawl through the books! It was surprisingly warm if not very hot at times. We completed a circular tour of the ponds returning via the Butterfly bank to enjoy lunch at the picnic tables.
The plants included:-