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Dealburn Rd, Low Moor and Railway terrace

Bee OrchidBee OrchidOur group of ten met up with our leader for the day Martyn Priestley. He led us around this local nature reserve; created from reclaimed industrial land. It is still surrounded by industry such as chemical and engineering works and there is a constant backgound noise.

Although we were in the middle of a heatwave, on this particular day it was overcast throughout with a cooling easterly breeze. The temperature therefore stayed below 18c. Despite this lowish temperature we still managed to spot the following butterflies and moths; Ringlets, Meadow Browns, Common Blues, Small Heath, Large Skipper, Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnets, Celypha lacunanas and a wing of a male Ghost Moth. The majority of these were found roosting and numbers of all were low.  Grass moths were however in abundance, all seemed to be Chrysoteuchia culmella.

Joan and Alice recorded 75 plants in flower. The star species were the freshly emerged Bee Orchids, at least 14 separate plants were located. Other plants of note: Melilots, Hairy and Smooth Tare, Common Spotted Orchid.  Bird's foot trefoils and clovers were seen all over this impressive and rather large site.  

Lunch was taken inside Woodlands Cricket Club. This excellent venue had been thoughtfully arranged for us by Stuart who wasn't even with us. The comfortable highbacked chairs looked very like the type of furniture to be found in a Nursing home for the elderly!  After lunch we again met up with Martyn, this time outside Railway Terrace (Raw Nook). This reserve used to be railway sidings so is very flat.  We heard singing Song Thrushes and Blackcaps. Martyn took us to the areas of heather where he explained that without constant upkeep would quickly become crowded out by birch and bramble. A Clouded Border moth was seen and also a solitary Cinnabar on the path(shielded by Alison to ensure it wasn't stood on by the group).

We went to the small pond where we saw Fringed Water Lily but no dragonflies as it was probably too cool for them.

Our 3rd and final destination was Toadholes Beck. We were shown several splendid Southern Marsh Orchids. These were almost the colour of Northern Marsh but the lip shapes were certainly Southern M.

Our driver for the day was Julia. Joan had kindly co-ordinated the arrangements with Martyn. 

John Gavaghan

WFV, Foulshaw Moss and Latterbarrow, 13 June 2017

Drinker Moth CaterpillarDrinker Moth CaterpillarWe returned to Foulshaw Moss a month earlier than our visit last year. 

Last year our timing was for fledged osprey chicks, whilst today it was all about the insects. Although it was a rather overcast day, warming up later in the afternoon, we did see a couple of the specialist butterflies and other insects. Large Heath butterflies were active over the bog where its caterpillar’s foodplant, Hare’s-tail Cottongrass, grows. We spent an excited 10 minutes watching a newly emerged dragonfly perched above it's exuviae, thinking it might be the rare White-faced Darter. However, as it showed itself more clearly, we identified it as a Four Spotted Chaser, and had to accept the White-faced Darter would encourage us to make a visit in another year (also a new section of boardwalk to be explored in the future).

The Azure Damselfly was the only other Odonata seen today, but other insects included an obliging Drinker Moth caterpillar on the boardwalk, an attractive Longhorn Beetle and Gold Swift and Grass Wave moths.

There were several sedges in the bog that we do not come across very often; Bottle Sedge, Hop Sedge and Tussock Sedge. Marsh Cinquefoil was seen in a number of places as we circled the reserve on the boardwalk. The diminutive Cranberry, both with flower and fruit, was creeping through areas that also supported Bog Rosemary. Bog Myrtle, Sundew, lichens, Crossed-leaved Heath and Narrow Buckler Fern added to the floral mix. 88 species were recorded in flower or fruit. 

Through the Cumbria Wildlife Trust telescope, we could see an adult Osprey perched on the nest but no aerial action today. CWT believe chicks have hatched as they think they have seen feeding taking place. We had good views of Redpolls near the raised platform. Other birds seen and heard included Reed Bunting, Blackcap and Tit species.

We then made a short hop across the A590 to Latterbarrow Reserve, a contrasting habitat of limestone grassland. The gentle hillside was covered in flowers, with areas of beautiful rock ‘gardens’ on the outcrops. Numerous examples of Common Spotted Orchid and several slightly aged Greater Butterfly Orchid were seen. Common Rock Rose, Aquilegia, Common Gromwell, Cut-leaved Cranesbill and Lady's Bedstraw were just some of the 80 species in flower. And with flowers come butterflies; Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Northern Brown Argus, Large Skipper and Meadow Brown were on the wing. 

Before our journey home we refreshed ourselves with drinks at the Derby Arms and ice cream from the Witherslack Community Shop.  You can see the photos in the gallery

Julia

 

WFV, Scar Close 6th June 2017 - Cancelled

I am very sorry that we decided to cancel this trip. There were weather warnings for rain and wind in place; not weather that is conducive to exploring limestone pavement. 

An additional problem was the minibus. The windscreen had been smashed so were going to have to use a borrowed minibus and didn't want to risk getting it wet and muddy. 

Although it was the correct decision for the day, we missed a treat and I hope we can go next year instead. 

I took some photos when I recced the site last week, so I have included this here to give you a feel of the place. 

Julia

 

WFV, Ox Close Woods, 30th May 2017

Banded demoiselleBanded demoiselleFourteen members explored Ox Close Woods and most also visited nearby local sites in East Keswick. The few spots of rain were easily ignored. Those travelling by minibus had clear sightings of Red Kites which compensated in part for, or possibly resulted in, the low bird count for the day. Soon after arrival Oyster Catchers were seen mobbing a Red Kite and John spotted a Yellowhammer. Bullfinch,Blackcap and Green Woodpecker were heard but not seen. Did the birds know that without Sue there was little chance of appearing in the gallery?

Botanically it was a different story. In view of the recent heavy rain we avoided the riverbank habitat yet over hundred species were recorded in flower or early stages of fruit formation. The less colourful species ignored by many, although not by Bees of any kind, boosted our list. Ten flowering grasses were seen including Wood Melick and Wood Millet. Wood sedge was abundant accompanied by some Glaucous sedge and both Great and Hairy Wood Rush were found. The seven ferns recorded included the less common Hard Shield Fern and Lady Fern.

An impressive example of regeneration was admired; twelve flourishing oak trees growing upright from a felled trunk.

Colour was provided by amongst others Yellow Pimpernel, Yellow Archangel and a few specimens of Goldilocks Buttercup. White was well represented by five of the Umbelliferae including Sanicle and Rough Chervil and by Ox-eye Daisy in the Reserve meadow. White flowers also predominated in the woodland shrubs with Spindle and Alder Buckthorn being ones we see less often. A patch of Common Spotted Orchid, growing in a prime position for trampling, took top place for pink but was challenged by the Dog Roses. Common Vetch, not as common as its name suggests,flourished in the meadow. The finest discovery was literally the last. Leaving the East Keswick Reserve several yet to open more fully spikes of Thistle Broomrape made the botanists' day.

Fungi sneaked into the exhibits; St. George's mushroom (a bit late for 23rd April) and Glistening Inkcap.

Insect life was represented by Speckled Wood and Large White butterflies and various moths including Green, Common and Silver Ground Carpets, Silver Y, Straw Dot and Nettle Tap. Brighter colour was provided by the brilliant green sheen of the male Banded Demoiselles and a selection of beetles.

Thanks to Lorna and Madeleine for their leadership and spotting prowess, to Margaret for giving some of us lifts to and from the reserve and to Robert for delivering and returning us safely again. A busy day for the plant enthusiasts but we will be ready for the next one!

View the gallery to see more photos

Alice

WFV, Strid Woods, 23 May 2017

NuthatchNuthatchll as a goosander on the far bank of the river.  A peacock butterfly alighted nearby giving Sue an excellent chance to gain her first of many photo opportunities.  Pied wagtail were also seen here as well as a mallard with 3 youngsters. As we progressed along the path green veined white and orange tip butterflies were seen and a cuckoo was also heard calling.  Mandarin ducks were very much in evidence, the male looking resplendent in his breeding plumage.  A carpet moth was spotted by John, flushed by Sue as she went to take a photo of an orange tip.  Stuart also noted herb paris among a patch of dog's mercury.  A little further along, up the hill, a pied flycatcher was seen entering one of the many nesting boxes dotted around the estate.  Grey wagtails were also seen darting about down on the river.

Some of the group made a stop for lunch at the seating area used as a bird feeding station.  There they were joined in their repast by several mandarin ducks, one female watching from a nearby tree.  The rest carried on, meeting up with a fellow birdwatcher, who had spotted a redstart high up in an oak tree.  Not easy to see and even less so to photograph.  Lunch was taken by the remainder of the group immediately on leaving the woods by the riverside.

 Our walk then continued on the far side of the bridge with hopes for sightings of spotted flycatcher and wood warbler.  However, in spite of everyone's best endeavours, none were noted and as we arrived back at the Pavilion some of the group took the opportunity to partake of a little refreshment.  

In total the day produced a tally of 36 birds, 5 butterflies - a small copper, seen by Janet, being a welcome addition to our list.  Unfortunately none of our botanists were able to be with us today so we did the best we could between us all and recorded an impressive (well we thought so!) 46 species in flower and 6 ferns.  Undoubtedly we missed many but our endeavours produced much animated discussion. A big thank you to Stuart for driving, John for leading and to Sue, good luck in your new job and many thanks for all the wonderful photographs you have taken for us over our many visits.  Come back soon, we will all miss you.

See the photos here. 

Sally Tetlow

WFV Upper Teesdale, extended day out, 16th May 2017

Spring GentianSpring Gentian

The BEES group last visited this site in May 2009, before I joined them. I had long been aware of the botanical rarities of Upper Teesdale so was eagerly looking forward to my first ever visit to this special place.

Though it had been raining slightly before our full bus left Bradford, as we headed north along the A1(M) it began brightening up. Prospects therefore looked good!  Our route took us past Scotch Corner, Barnard Castle and many scenic stone propertied villages before arriving at Moor House NNR near Cow Green Reservoir; where we were met by our guide for the day Lynn Patterson. She is a volunteer for Natural England. As it was approaching 12:30 we all ate our lunches in or around the mini-bus. Maddie generously gave out her home-made fudge. Use was also made of the Tardis like portaloo.

This is a very exposed area at over 1,500 feet but even so I was taken aback by the strength of the south-westerly wind. It certainly took Amanda by surprise as her empty white plastic bag was whipped away and shot up the hillside seemingly headed for Scotland! She rather gamely chased after it but soon realised her cause was hopeless! Almost as soon as we headed off in the direction of the reservoir it began to rain. Unfortunately this was not rain landing on our heads but the sort that smashed into us at right angles. To illustrate my point, it blew Janet onto her back as she was stepping over a grassy mound. No damage to the mound or Janet!

This was the trigger to cause Janet, Philip,Margaret and Robert to immediately head back to the shelter of the bus. Gillian very quickly joined them! Although my somewhat unsuitable trousers were very soon sodden I was determined to carry on in order to see some of these rarities (The Teesdale Assemblage), in particular the Spring Gentian. Fortunately they were abundant amongst the numerous violets and pansies. Obtaining decent pictures of them, however, was quite another matter. Whether it was the appalling conditions or the vivid blue colouration of the petals I struggled to get them in focus. By the time I had taken at least 15 photos the group were disappearing in the distance so I hurried after them. Stuart, who had escorted Gillian back, also rejoined the drenched group.

The rain had been hitting us from the side but as we neared the shores of the reservoir it was now full in our faces! That was enough for Steve, our newest member and also for myself; so we too headed back to the bus. We had spent less than 30 minutes walking. Within an hour everyone else returned also. They had got as far as Cauldron Snout waterfall (not Cauldron Spout as certain persons kept calling it!). The brave souls who reached the end were Stuart, Donald, Julia, Amanda, Sally and Maddie. 

Alice had marvellously recorded 27 plants in flower and was the only person who saw a solitary diminutive Moonwort and also Mountain Everlasting, both rarities and the latter a first for Alice. The species list included; Birds-eye Primrose, Spring Sandwort, Hare's tail Cotton Grass, Lesser Clubmoss, Mountain Pansy, Dog Violets and Wild Pansy.

As we departed a small flock of Golden Plover flew past. The only birds of note we had seen. Sue, our principal photographer, had very early on decided that her camera was not leaving it's case!

Our next destination was High Force. This spectacular waterfall was in full spate. The weather here was fairly pleasant and we even saw a white butterfly. Some good birds were also sighted including Blackcap, Treecreeper and Spotted Flycatchers. There is a £1.50 charge to enter this private estate. The falls are easily reached within 5 minutes. Plants seen here were: Sanicle, Yellow Pimpernel, Greater Wood-rush and Globe Flower. 

We arrived at The Tiger Inn, near Knaresborough earlier than we had planned but we didn't have long to wait before being shown to our table. Everyone later agreed the meal had been of a very high standard. In order to ensure we were not too late getting back we had agreed only to have a main course. Sorry Robert but your Jam sponge and custard will have to await another day! Sue did treat us to her home-made mince pies and carrot cake before we left the car park. 

Many thanks go to the joint leaders Julia and Alice to whom I bear no ill will for the dreadful weather!  Also to the three drivers who shared the load: Stuart, Robert and Julia and not forgetting our guide for the day Lynn

An eventful day out. See the photos here

John Gavaghan

   

WFV Washburn Valley, 9th May 2017

BluebellsBluebells

Today we explored a section of the Washburn Valley between Lindley Wood and Swinsty reservoirs. This is a sheltered area with some good tree cover. It is noted for its breeding bird population, encouragement being given by the provision of many nest boxes in situ. This morning was cold but the recent winds had subsided, definitely a woolly hat day. However, after lunch, sunshine appeared and it became much warmer encouraging the butterflies to take to the wing.

 We divided into three groups. One group of four concentrated on the botanical recording and did a shorter walk as far as the picturesque pack horse bridge and return. A party of seven completed the four mile walk of the circuit. This brought the added reward of scenic views across the valley from on high. A group of three went "off piste" and made several good bird sightings. It was a most enjoyable walk with the spring countryside at its best bursting forth with a variety of colour.

64 botanical species in flower were recorded by Alice. Specials included Wood Stitchwort, Yellow Archangel, Pignut, and Tormentil. 7 fern species were identified including Wood Horsetail. The walking group enjoyed a whole variety of flowers and flowering trees and shrubs. They included Wood Sorrel, Bugle, Thyme-leaved Speedwell, Bistort, flowering Bird Cherry and Apple, Bluebells, Stitchwort and Red Campion (a lovely sight), Primrose and the brillant yellow flowering Gorse.

  Bird song surrounded us on the walk. The birds seen included Greylag Geese, Lapwing, Great Crested Grebe, Tree Creeper, Pied flycatcher, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Swallow, Redstart and the raptors Buzzard and Red Kite. The bird total was a good 34. Last but not least a Mandarin duck was spotted on Lindley Wood Reservoir.

The butterflies emerged in the afternoon including Orange Tip, Green-veined White, Speckled Wood, Peacock and Comma.

 The bunch of regulars were joined by Steve a new member who gave the appearance of enjoying the day out. At least he has booked for Teesdale.

A great day out with thanks to Stuart and Maddy for their support.

See the photos here. 

Margaret

 

WFV, Leathley Lanes, nr Otley, 2nd May 2017

RedstartRedstart

Our party of 10 set off from the roadside in Leathley and headed off down the lane towards Riffa Wood. The day remained dry with plenty of sun but with a chilly north easterly throughout.

A total of 69 plants were seen in flower plus 4 ferns. These included Greater Stitchwort, which was abundant along our route, 7 varieties of Speedwell, Large Bittercress, Yellow Archangel and Wood Sorrel. When we reached the wood we were treated to a wonderful display of native bluebells.

The bird count was low with only 18 species seen and oddly no Red Kites? We were however delighted to see both male and female Redstarts, whilst passing a line of mature oaks, on an uphill stretch of the route across a large field. The male was showing well at the top of one of the oaks though I only managed a sighting of the female. Well done Maddie for spotting them and reporting back to the group so that we were able to approach the trees without disturbing them.

Lunch was taken on a sheltered slope, on the opposite side of a stream, which had to be crossed via stepping stones. Robert gallantly assisted several of the less steady members over the hazard.  If you want to see how this affected him; look at the gallery!  It was during this time that the weather warmed sufficiently for Orange Tips & Peacocks to take flight.  Prior to this we all had the opportunity to take excellent photos of a male Orange Tip which was found hunkering on a grass stem, waiting for warmer conditions.

A Greater Spotted Woodpecker was heard and then seen in Riffa Wood.

Well done Marilyn for selecting and leading the walk and to Robert our driver.

See the photos here. 

John Gavaghan 

WFV, North Cave Wetlands, 25 April, 2017

Reed WarblerReed Warbler

A sunny, but cold day, saw 9 of us set out for North Cave Wetlands.  Good time was made and on arrival a visit to the mobile catering van was eagerly anticipated by some.  The hide nearby afforded little shelter from a biting northerly wind but good views of a kestrel hovering nearby was our first sighting of the day.  Our group then moved off towards the East Hide, where there were excellent views of a variety of species notably avocets (a count of at least 26 was made), shelduck, shoveler, teal, redshank, oystercatcher, gadwall, a black swan, 2 greylag geese with 5 goslings and the welcome sight of a ruff.  Much debate took place around the identification of this bird but Stuart's scope proved invaluable here.

The Turret Hide provided a suitable spot for lunch.  Here Robert noted a heron being furiously chased by a black-headed gull, the heron eventually managing to shake off its pursuer.  Rabbits were seen on the far banking and coots were sitting tightly on their nests by the side of the lagoon.  

Walking along the pathway towards our next stop, Joan was excited to find field mouse-ear which she declared to be her find of the day.  Given that our botanists identified 53 species in flower as well as 2 ferns and that of those 53, 6 were different varieties of speedwell, the mouse-ear still came out on top.

Stunning views of 2 reed warbler at the next hide provided Sue with good photo opportunities.  Here we also saw a couple of ringed plover as well as a further ruff, or perhaps the same one from earlier!  The Crossland Hide gave us a chance to see a brief courtship display between 2 great crested grebe prior to mating (twice!).

Our walk back towards the minibus gave sightings of bullfinch, goldfinch and reed bunting with an excellent view of a little grebe bravely battling the waves on the final lagoon we passed.  Throughout the day we were also treated to acrobatic aerial displays by the numerous sand martins and swallows flying over the various lagoons.  Black-headed gulls were present in abundance along with herring gull and a lesser black-backed gull was also seen, giving a total of 46 species in all.

In spite of a poor forecast, the day only produced a few short showers but the wind remained strong throughout.  Still a thoroughly enjoyable outing ably directed by John, with thanks to Sue and Stuart for driving.  

See the photos here. 

Sally Tetlow

WFV, Temple Newsam, Skelton Lake, 11th April 2017

Coltsfoot Seed HeadColtsfoot Seed Head

There had been several cancellations  for a variety of reasons so there were only 9 on the minibus and the plan was to meet up with Margaret in her car at the car park closest to Temple Newsam House. However, there are many car parks at Temple Newsam and this caused some confusion. We had made it to Temple Newsam in good time but there was some delay in locating each other; at least the group could buy hot drinks and have a wander round the shop. 

With the group united, we took the path south out of Temple Newsam, where there was a lovely display of Few-flowered Leek and  a kestrel was seen in flight. After heading through the underpass under the M1 we crossed the road and turned right towards Skelton Lake. This is not the most picturesque or peaceful of reserves. It is a former open cast mine and it has a very urban and noisy feel to it eapecially with the close proximity of the M1. Maddy was particularly troubled by the traffic noise and chose to leave the group and explore quieter avenues. However, this area is still a work in progress being part of the Wyke Beck Valley Project and it is interesting to see how wildlife moves in and thrives when industry moves out. A bridge is being erected over the River Aire which will allow access from Rothwell Park and Woodlesford. 

The path took us alongside trees, hedgerows and a small stream before it took us to to Skelton Lake. Most of the birds were very distant but there were some good sightings including lapwing, wigeon, shelduck and a little egret seen flying over the river. We had lunch on a grassy bank overlooking the lake: the weather through the morning and lunch had been cool and blustery and the unseasonable high temperatures at the weekend were now a distant memory. As we continued on our 4 mile walk in the afternoon the sun came out for more extended periods bringing out a few butteflies, mostly male Orange Tip but also one Speckled Wood. 

One fern was recorded along with 44 plants in flower, the most notable being Cuckoo Flower, Few Flowered Leek and Spotted Medick which was a first for some of the group. 43 birds were seen including Nuthatch, Long-tailed Tits and Grey Heron. 

After regrouping in Temple Newsam courtyard we set off back at 3pm. 

Many thanks to Sally for leading and to Robert for co-leading, driving and lugging his telescope around the whole walk. 

See the photos here. 

Sue