WFV, St Chad's and St John's, Leeds

Submitted by julia on Tue, 13th Nov 2018, 1:56pm

These two sites are visited regularly, at this time of year, by the Mid-Yorks Fungus Group in order to see the display of waxcaps and other grassland specialities such as corals, spindles, clubs and earthtongues. Alas; as with our earlier venture this month to the Mirfield site, this too met with disappointment, as apart from one Golden Waxcap & a couple of emerging Meadow Waxcaps at the very start of the day, that was that!

Upon arrival at St Chad’s we were met by Mike Willison, a church representative, who kindly directed us to the nearby toilet facilities at the Community Centre. He also provided interesting leaflets entitled ‘Geological Trail’ and ‘A walk around St Chad’s Churchyard’. Our group of six was joined by Sue, Eric and Margaret who got there using their own steam.  A Red Kite flew low overhead. Shortly after that Sue spotted a Red Admiral sunning itself on the southern wall of the church. That not surprisingly was the only butterfly to be seen.

WFV, Community of the Resurrection, Mirfield and River Calder/canal circular, Oct 30th 2018

Submitted by julia on Thu, 1st Nov 2018, 6:32pm

This is the first time we have visited this site, which is an annual favourite of the Mid-Yorks Fungus Group, of which I am a member.

The main attraction is the wonderful assemblage of waxcap and other grassland fungi including the striking Ballerinas. Alas, due to the recent cold snap and relative dry conditions during October the lawns were bereft!  Nothing on them at all apart from Honey Fungus (mostly gone over and turning to black mush) and a few tiny orange Galerinas.

The community was founded in Oxford in 1892 and came to Mirfield 6 years later. It is based on Anglican and Benedictine traditions and there is a daily Gregorian chant in the imposing church. The monks, who are permanent residents, are all men. During our walk around the grounds we were shown the graveyard with its unusual triangular wooden headstones.

WFV, Leighton Moss, 16th Oct 2018

Submitted by julia on Tue, 16th Oct 2018, 6:36pm

We started our visit to Leighton Moss RSPB reserve at the shore hides, with the first stop being the Eric Morecambe hide. Within minutes we were watching a Kingfisher in flight, perching and fishing.

There was a large flock of Redshank in clusters across the water, and their sudden take to the air alerted us to the arrival of a Peregrine. It took several attempts but it managed to grab one from the circling flock and taking it to ground to pluck and eat. 

Rather more serenely, on the opposite shore we identified two Red Breasted Merganser in eclipse plumage and in one view could compare Little Egret, Great Egret and a Grey Heron. 

Although there were recent reports of hundreds of Black-tailed Godwits it seems like a sudden rise in water levels had dispersed them and our sighting was restricted to a singleton disguised in a group of Redshank.

Ladybird vs Lacewing

Submitted by julia on Sat, 3rd Nov 2012, 7:35pm

I normally think of ladybirds and lacewings in the the same catagory of 'helpful' insects who eat food crop pests such as aphids.

I had not realised that lacewing larvae also occasionally eat adult ladybirds until we witnessed the devouring of this ladybird by two lacewing larvae. We couldn't understand why the ladybird didn't just walk, or fly, away if it felt under threat. It seems like the lacewing's venom must have paralysed the ladybird before it realised what was happening.

The first lacewing was joined by another and between the two it took 3 hours to complete their meal; the entire beast except the wingcases. There are more photos in the gallery.


Orchard update

Submitted by julia on Thu, 4th Oct 2012, 9:07am

You may well have read that there has been a nationally poor harvest of apples this year; the supermarkets are even discussing reducing the strict rules regarding size,shape and appearance that govern the selection of apples they sell.

We had been pessimistic about our total crop after a week of frost in May, as well as the cool damp conditions that would not have favoured the pollinating insects. However, it seems like we will reach about half of what we harvested last year, more than predicted, and we are aware that Yorkshire Orchards and Ampleforth Orchard have both had severely reduced crops. 

We have continued to record the weights harvested from each tree, and hope that over the years we will build up an interesting picture that reflects the success of different varieties and the affects of climatic conditions. However we know there are a number of variables and figures from two years (we only started weighing in 2011) do not tell the full story yet. For example last year we picked about 44kg of Bramley's seedling, this year we will have about 4 apples. But was that the frost, or does the tree have a biennial bearing habit? Is our harvest of 50% of last year comparatively good (weather affected) or should we have expected more as the trees are bigger, therefore able to produce more fruit? We will watch and learn!

In February we replaced two trees that had canker on their main truncks; both the Charles Ross and Lane's Prince Albert have been replanted. In general, the weather conditions have resulted in prolific growth of the grass and other vegetation, which has required more cutting than usual. We have taken advice from Garden Organic about organic fruit cultivation and leave the majority of the grass long as habitat for the predatory invertebrates that control the pests.

Harvest complete

Submitted by julia on Thu, 13th Oct 2011, 11:32am

On Monday, the day after Apple Day, I picked almost all the remaining fruit. I was there so the portable toilet could be collected and thought it was a good opportuntiy to make sure the remaining apples were collected. Some of the Blenhiem Orange and Kidd's Orange Red may have prefered another week on the tree but it felt a good compromise. Now the fruit needs sorting and distributing. If there are any orchard volunteers out there who haven't yet asked for apples please let us know as soon as possible.

I will complete the harvesting log and attach it to the website here.

Harvesting highlights

Submitted by julia on Mon, 19th Sep 2011, 2:23pm

On Saturday we harvested 44kilos of Bramley's Seedling! and there is still a few more kilos on the tree. If I was to plant an orchard now I would not include Bramley as it is so widley available in the shops, however we were beginners when we conceived Bowling Park Community Orchard and it is silly to regret such a great harvest of wonderful looking fruit, really rosy in colour.

We also made the first picking of the Lord Lambourne - 7Kg., and several other types. Some were left to next visit as we couldn't carry anymore.

If we have surplus to requirements (requests from orchard volunteers and Apple Day cooks) I think we will make the remainder of the crop avialable at Apple Day - we just do not have appropriate storage to make good use of the crop throughout the winter.

Orchard harvest

Submitted by julia on Mon, 12th Sep 2011, 5:10pm

The fruit harvest is now in full flow. Today we gathered approximately 40kilos, all weighed on our new spring balance but I have left the notes in the shed.Our new long handled picker was helpful, as was the harvesting bag (both bought with a donation made to us by the Coop - thanks Barbara), but we were also helped out by the wind. Quite a few apples had fallen but were unblemished.

Today's varieties were Ribson Pippin (hardly any left on the trees, earlier than normal), Arthur Turner (first time we have a decent crop of these), Peasgood Nonsuch, Grandpa Buxton, Katy (the last of these), James Grieve, Cockpit Improved (a small crop from a cordon), Irish Peach and a few Blenheim Orange (mostly wind blown).

Some of these will be used to cook for Apple Day, others will go straight to orchard volunteers.

Orchard notes, summer pruning

Submitted by julia on Mon, 5th Sep 2011, 10:00pm

We finished the summer pruning this weekend so now the espaliers and cordons are looking back in shape. We have decided that we will need to make some more radical changes to a few of them in the winter (if we were to do it now we would be cutting off to much fruit). The Brownlees Russet (near the central benches) has fluctuated between espalier and fan to try to make best use of the growth - however there has been significant damage were a branch split and we feel that the damaged area should be removed in winter. It still might not be clear whether this tree will be a fan or espalier, but not to worry, all we are trying to do is grow fruit in a resticted doesn't have to be pretty! (though that had been the plan when we started out).

The Tydeman's Late Orange has folded over the wire and needs cutting back and we need to remove some of the top growth of the Court Pendu Plat and check over the others.

Some of the free growing trees were planted too close together so we have carried out a minimal amount of summer pruning in an attempt to restrict their growth, perhaps we should have been more radical? We will need to revisit the trees in winter and hope Martin will give us some guidance at Apple Day.

The trees are a really good example of how different varieties have different growing habits - Arthur Turner is going straight up (we need to get a long armed picker asap) whereas Blenheim Orange is stretching out horizontally.

Three branches have broken on Grandpa Buxton due to weight of fruit. They are not quite ripe yet but it is our first cooker to ripen adn we need to cut out the branches as we harvest.

Overall the harvest is looking promising with a good crop on the Bramley, Arthur Turner, Grandpa Buxton and Egremont Russet. It is disappointing that the Belle de Boskoop has no fruit this year but after the amazing crop last year it is not surprising, same with the Keswick Codlin. Not long before we will be in full harvesting and cooking mode. pip pip.