Wildlife Field Visit group's blog

WFV, Troller's Ghyll and Tibet Wood, 12th June 2018

The Way to The GhyllThe Way to The GhyllOur forecast for the day was dry and sunny and we were not to be disappointed. The full bus went via the B6265 and this allowed a toilet stop at Grassington NPC and an easier route towards Parcevall Hall. We were also kindly allowed to use the car park inside the gardens so avoided having to park on the rather narrow roadside.

Our first and main destination was Tibet Woods which was a very short stroll back up the hill. This is a conifer plantation which is part of the PH estate and is said to contain a rare plant 'Chickweed Wintergreen' (neither a chickweed nor a wintergreen!). We had hoped to be met by the Head Gardener Phil Nelson, who had given us the permission to visit the site, but we did arrive later than planned so missed seeing him.

The only entrance is over a stone stile but all the group successfully overcame this first obstacle. We then headed upwards and went up and up and up; so much so that several members felt unable to carry on and retreated back down again. They had also been plagued by midges which didn't help. There were two zig zag paths to the top (where the plant was said to be located) and our group initially split into those going up the left hand route and those including myself who took the right hand path. Apart from the pine trees and splendid pink and yellow Rhododendrons there was little in the way of plantlife to be seen. However as we got higher the wood opened out and we then had great views of the surrounding area. I began to understand why it was called Tibet Wood!

It was Kevin, our new driver, who found what we were looking for. I had sent him out scouting with the single instruction to shout if he found any white flower! Well done to Kevin. We were soon joined by most of the others, some of who we only met as we were heading back down. All who reached the top did however get to see the rarity. The plant formed an extensive patch on the needle litter but only a handfull were in flower and looked rather small. I later learned that this patch is double what it was 2 years ago but this years flowering is poor, probably due to the dry conditions in May and June.

Our next destination was Troller's Ghyll, a site we have visited before and this is where we all ate lunch, albeit in four separate locations. This is a marvellous limestone valley full of interesting wildflowers such as Rockrose, Thyme, Common Spotted Orchids, Biting Stonecrop and Watercress. A total of 84 plants in flower were recorded by Alice plus 10 ferns in contrast to only 11 in flower at the previous location.

Lepidoptera seen = Chimney Sweeper Moths, Small Heaths, Common Blue, Red Admiral, Small Copper and Green-veined White. Birdlife highlights were Redstart and Curlew.

We rounded off a lovely day (the sun was still shining) in the cafe gardens where most of us partook of beverages and the excellent cakes. Our return route by way of a change was via Barden Bridge and Addingham. This route is definitely busier and therefore a trickier drive than our way there.

Many thanks to Kevin for driving.

See photos here.

John Gavaghan

WFV, Scar Close and Ashes Pasture, 5th June 2018

Heath Spotted Orchid var.leucanthaHeath Spotted Orchid var.leucanthaWell, what a treat. And what a perfect weather day, especially with the memory of having had to cancel last year due to wind and rain. 

Scar Close is an enclosed area of limestone pavement on the lower slopes of Ingleborough, and we are grateful to Natural England for giving us a permit to visit. Keeping the sheep out enables a wealth of flowers, sedges, rushes, ferns and trees to grow in the grikes. These are the deep fissures between the clints, the pavement blocks. Some of the grikes were very deep, but we all trod carefully, and safely, on this challenging terrain. 

We had lunch a few metres from the entrance, though these few metres were full of interest and took a while to traverse. Butterwort, Bird’s-eye Primrose, the leaves of Bog Asphodel, rushes and sedges. After food, we slowly explored the grikes around the area, we didn’t have to walk far to see a whole range of plant species. Bloody Cranesbill, Lily of the Valley, Baneberry, Common Rockrose, Green Spleenwort, Limestone Fern, Carnation Sedge…the list goes on. There were several species about to come into flower including lesser meadow rue and saw-wort.

As well of a number of Small Heath butterflies, we were excited to see quite a few Small Pearl Bordered Fritillaries. They really are quite small - if you look at the pictures in the gallery you can judge their size against the wild thyme they are sitting on. 

I led a few people on a fruitless search for some Moonwort (yes, did I really think I could re-find this tiny fern just because I had seen it a year ago!), but it gave us the chance to have a wander and see that the whole site is covered by a great diversity of plants. It feels like a very special place. 

This was undoubtedly a day for the flowers, but there were birds about; willow warblers, maybe a sedge warbler, kestrels, meadow pipits and a cuckoo was heard. 

We descended the hill back to the minibus and made the short transfer to Ashes Pasture near Ribblehead. Lack of time and energy meant we could really only have a glance at this site, but we now know what it is like and can plan a return visit to pay it the attention it deserves. There were hundreds of Heath Spotted Orchids including the pure white variation 'leucantha', Northern Marsh and Common Spotted Orchid. There were swathes of Bugle amongst the rushes as well as Marsh Ragwort and Ragged Robin. I think it would be good to go back next year so we can explore the original reserve and the adjacent land which Yorkshire Wildlife Trust managed to buy after a big appeal last year. 

Thanks to Stuart for driving. 

Julia 

 

WFV, Cross Hill and Salthill Quarries, Clitheroe, 29th May 2018

Ox Eye DaisyOx Eye DaisyBoth sites visited today are owned by Ribble Valley Borough Council and were leased to the  Lancashire Wildlife Trust in 1989.  Each site is a former limestone quarry and covers twenty acres.

Salthill Quarry has SSSI status for its geology. Vast numbers of crinoid fossils are embedded in large boulders and fragments are to be found in the loose soil of the meadow floor. 180 plants, including mosses and liverworts, are listed for the site. Today, Joan and I recorded 104 in flower and 4 ferns. Bird'sfoot trefoil and Wild Strawberry were in profusion in the meadow area, Lady's Bedstraw was just opening and Common Milkwort and Thyme added variety in colour.  The woodland had white blossom of Hawthorn, Guelder Rose, Dogwood and Rowan. On the path side the one orchid we found remains unnamed; we missed John.

We walked along a very short stretch of the Ribble Way as it passed through the nearby Cross Hill Quarry.   Tiredness was setting in and a change of plan to reduce the distance we recced meant that we did justice to neither the plants there nor to the exhibits along the Bungerly Park Sculpture Trail. Some plants different from those at Salthill were noted: Black Bryony, Ground Elder in profusion, Red Campion and patches of Wood Speedwell. The two orchids we saw were most likely hybrids between Northern Marsh and Common Spotted. (Information from a Reserve employee) Once again, books were needed to check it was Buckthorn, and not Alder Buckthorn, we found in fruit.

Eighteen birds put in an appearance during the day. The most noteworthy were Swifts and Warblers.

In view of the flower bonanza perhaps it was the lack of sunshine that resulted in a disappointingly low butterfly count. Common Blue, Small Heath and both Small and Green Veined White did flutter past; one each of the first two and hardly more of the Whites.

As one of these reserves flanks an industrial site and the second is near a cement works, the variety of wildlife and the beauty within them is remarkable. I can only think that the 13 year delay in BEES returning to these sites is due to county rivalry!

Twelve members had a most enjoyable day, albeit over the border. Thanks to Sally for her efficient leadership and to Stuart and Sue for safe journeys there and back. See the photos here. 

Alice

 

Wildlife Field Visit, Malham Tarn Boardwalk, 22nd May 2018

BogbeanBogbeanOur three previous visits to this site, all in the month of August, were all abandoned before we ever got near to the boardwalk area! The plan this time was (A) go at at different time of year & (B) start at the boardwalk, rather than the mire at the southern end of the tarn. The plan worked perfectly as we had a dry day with warm sunshine throughout. There was however a keen north-easterly breeze which always kept the temperature below 20C.

The temperature was high enough however to tempt out lots of Orange Tip & Green-veined White butterflies. We also saw several Four-spotted Chaser dragonflies and Large Red Damselflies. Luckily we also managed good views of a solitary Green Hairstreak. The site doesn't hold much of its bilberry foodplant so only supports a small colony.

We heard lots of birdsong but they stayed mostly hidden from view. We did though manage to see a Sedge Warbler and a Tree Pipit. A few of us were very lucky to see a Short-eared Owl burst out of the undergrowth and just as quickly vanish out of sight. We didn't know what the large raptor was until we were told a few minutes later by two birders that they had just seen a shortie!

Whilst we were sat on the boardwalk having our lunches we were passed by a very large and well marshalled group led by two folk we know very well; Hugh and Lisa Firman. The group were all staying at Scargill House, a religious retreat near Kettlewell which our group has visited several times.

The boardwalk goes over Tarn Moss and Tarn Fen. Although set in a limestone area, a raised bog with an acid-loving flora has developed, so the site is botanically exceptional. Alice and Joan recorded 60 plants in flower plus 6 ferns and emerging Water Horsetail. These included Early Purple Orchids,Globe Flower, Bogbean, Cranberry, Sundew, Marsh Marigolds, Marsh Valerian and Lousewort plus English Scurvy Grass and Dioecious Sedge (both newplants for our two botanists). Additionally they also encountered an odd form of Water Avens just as they had done a week earlier at Threshfield Quarries.

We left the site at 14:30 and headed a short distance to the sink hole area near the large car park, hoping to see the Yellow Wagtails which nest there every year. Alas, no luck on that front! but we did get to see Mountain Pansies, Birdseye Primrose and Meadow Pipits. We left for home at 14:50.

Many thanks go to our joint drivers, Stuart and Sue. We also welcomed two newcomers, Sue and Jean who we first met when we visited Denso Marstons in April. Hopefully, if they enjoyed their day out, they will join us again. See the photos here. 

John Gavaghan

 

Comment.  The peculiar Water Avens flowers we have seen on our last two visits are not hybrids. They are caused by naturally occuring mutations. It seems that there are many more of them this year than is normal. Alice.

WFV Threshfield Quarry 15 May 2018

Dryad's SaddleDryad's SaddleBeautiful weather - warm and sunny, splendid trees in full flower, a lovely display of colourful flowers, these were the ingredients of todays walk. Our walk was in the environs of Threshfield near Grassington and involved walking down country lanes, up a grassy flower strewn hillside, through a disused limestone quarry and a visit to historical lime kilns. The group of 12 divided into a party of two, myself and Maddy being the appointed leaders. Unfortunately we were not able to come together to enjoy lunch overlooking a superb rock garden behind Long Ashes caravan park as planned and remained out of touch (other than by mobile phone) for most of the day but thankfully not lost!

My party was able to enjoy the spring flowers that surrounded us. We saw Goldilocks buttercup, Ramsons, Bluebells, Bird Cherry, Primrose, Cowslip, Bugle, Field Mouseear, Dog violets, Early Purple orchids (in good numbers and at their best), Water avens and hybrids, Salad Burnet, Wild and Barren Strawberry, Hairy Rockcress, the leaves of St John's Wort also Common and Green Figwort. The ferns present included Brittle Bladder and Harts Tongue fern. Alice recorded 76 flowers for her group.

  Butterflies were on the wing in good numbers specifically Orange tip, Green veined white and Speckled wood. 

The bird count was 19. Birds were heard rather than seen although a Curlew was spotted by Donald flying overhead, nesting Jackdaws were seen patrolling the quarry and a female Pheasant was seen with chicks. Lapwing and Oystercatcher were seen on the journey home. 

The industrial archaeology of the abandoned quarry including the trucks used for transporting limestone ballast and lime kilns was of considerable interest in particular to Jane whose husband is an enthusiast.

 The countryside was in pristine condition and we were afforded with some lovely views of Lower Wharfedale. If the weather remains the same as today for the rest of the summer we will be truly blessed. 

Thanks go to Stuart for driving and to Maddy for her support. 

See photos here. 

Margaret

WFV, High Batts, 8th May 2018

Bird CherryBird CherryTen members and Kevin, who we hope will become a driver for us, enjoyed the long awaited sights of Spring on our journey north. We were welcomed at High Batts by Colin Slater, the reserve Chairman. We learned of the site development and management policy and the continuing gravel extraction programme. Colin then guided us around the different areas of the reserve drawing attention to features and answering our questions. The site is managed for nature not for man and nothing leaves the site except by its own volition.

The mildly alkaline soil supports a wealth of plants. Bluebells and Ramsons carpeted the floor in the more enclosed woodland. In the open ride areas the ground was spotted with Primroses, Cowslips, Dog violets, Ground ivy, Crosswort, Barren strawberry and Bugle. Maddie's spotting skills noticed a single stem of Wood stitchwort. Speedwells were well represented on the reserve; common field, slender, ivy leaved, wood and wall being recorded. From the large Bird cherries in magnificent bloom to the "going over" Star of Bethlehem there was so much to see. The gall on Dog Violet leaves is still to be identified

In areas one almost bounced on the cushion of moss, a reminder of how wet the land can be. The ponds were remarkably clear and alive with insect life including Large Red Damselflies mating on the edging plants. Water Horsetail dominated here and Yellow Water lilies were opening . While I botanized a newt and a frog appeared.

A lunch break in the "hotel" hide by the river afforded some of us with an electric blue flash as a Kingfisher flew upstream. From another hide we had close views of a Greater Spotted Woodpecker and of Marsh Tits. 22 other birds were recorded.

In response to the weather six butterfly species were flying: Brimstone, Orange Tip, Peacock, Small White, Speckled Wood, and a single Comma spotted by Colin.

Great interest was shown and many photographs taken of the Common Morel fungus. This was new to most of us, even to John, and something which returns annually to its particular area of the reserve. The moral here is don't shun new places!(Sorry)

High Batts is a hidden gem. We saw so much and are aware of more to be seen, so watch for a further visit on a future programme. Many thanks to Colin for generously giving of his time and expertise, to Steve for the initial suggestion and to Julia for driving.

See photos here. 

Alice

 

WFV, Hardcastle Crags, 1st May 2018

Pink PurslanePink PurslaneWe were a party of 10 that met at the carpark and together we made our way in warm sunshine to Gibson mill, about a mile walk through rich woodland.  After lunch there we returned to the car park by a riverside walk which though boggy and difficult walking in places was very rewarding in plant, fungi, and bird sightings.

 

Many thanks to Alice for her record of plant species spotted -

Plants in flower = 34, including 2 grasses, 3 woodrushes 

There were masses of Great Woodrush, a lot of Hairy Woodrush and a few spikes of Field Woodrush near the car park picnic area.

Also patches of Early Common Dog violets and Dog violets, Golden saxifrage, and Pink Purslane.

Marsh Marigolds where  damp, Bluebells  and Ramsons (not yet all fully open).  Both Wild and  Bird Cherry.        

New growth seen on 10 Fern species.

 

Many thanks to John for his record of fungi (and a solitary butterfly!) -

purplepore bracket, lumpy bracket, smoky bracket, ganoderma, glistening inkcap

and the butterfly: the green-veined white

 

Some of the bird species spotted -

blackcap(h), blue tit, chaffinch, crow, great tit(h), grey wagtail, dipper, heron, mallard with ducklings, pheasant(h), song thrush, woodpecker(h), wren.

 See photos here. 

Steve

 

WFV, Denso Marston Nature Reserve, Shipley, 24th April 2018

By the River AireBy the River AireWe were a small party of 9 plus 2 guests (Sue and Jean who had met Alice previously on the reserve). It was nice to have Robert's company again after a period of absence. The weather was fine but cool. We were met at the gate by Steve Warrilow the warden. Steve established the reserve twenty years ago on land belonging to the Denso Marston factory and which is adjacent to the River Aire. He was initially brought in as a landscape gardener but soon realized its potential as a haven for birds, his life time passion; and he started to create a habitat to their liking. 

The reserve which is entirely man made consisting of mixed woodland, ponds, hedgerows and grassland areas was looking picturesque with a profusion of blossom, fresh green leaves and pristine flora. A tremendous amount of work has been completed – tree planting, hedge laying, pond creation and dry stone walling in the creation of a habitat for all to enjoy. The reserve has developed a strong educational role with visiting groups of children and adults.

The reserve supports a great variety species of fauna and flora. Fifteen bird species were recorded on the day; on the river Goosander (male and female), Jay and Mallard. A heron was seen flying over the reserve. In the woodland we saw and heard great tit, Blue tit, Coal tit and Blackcap. On the ponds a Moorhen was viewed. The several of the shrubs and trees were in leaf and flower, notably blackthorn and cherry. Our highlight species of the day was Field Maple with its upright clusters of small green flowers and leaves cut into five lobes.  The ground flora was very varied consisting of primrose, cowslip, false oxlip, wood anemone, dog violet, white dead-nettle, ramsons, bluebell, yellow archangel, water avens and cuckoo flower.

The reserve,since its inception, has recorded 25 species of butterfly including the White-letter Hairstreak. Numerous bumble bees were seen feeding on nectar. There are an abundance of small mammals to be found under the boards scattered around the reserve. Another innovative feature was the use of dog hair (in particular the hair of a volunteer’s husky dog) which was placed inside a milk carton which was hung on the bird feeder stand and used by a blue tit. Numerous nest boxes were in situ and the birds are building nests for their eggs at present.

We made use of the facilities of the education centre for lunch. Subsequently some members departed whilst a group of 6 led by Vera made a short walk over the river and canal into Buck Wood returning before the rain increased.

Thanks go to Steve for showing us the reserve and for his enthusiastic and informative account. Also to Vera and Alice for making the arrangements for our visit and leadership on the day. 

See photos here. 

Margaret

 

WFV, Tophill Low, 17th April 2018

CowslipsCowslips

A fine day greeted our departure to Tophill Low.  This reserve has 180 hectares of woodland, grassland and historic River Hull wetlands with 12 bird hides and a magnificent viewing gallery overlooking one of the reservoirs.  On arrival we were given an introductory talk by Jane, one of the volunteers, in the gallery from where we could see the returning summer migrants of martins, both sand and house, as well as swallows, swooping low over the water.  Numerous tufted duck were in evidence as well as gadwall and great crested grebes.

Our group then walked through the adjacent woodland where we were treated to the delights of birdsong from a range of species, notably blackcap, willow warbler and chiffchaff.  Roe deer were also seen by some.  

Lunch was eaten in the first hide where we were treated to sightings of goldeneye, both male and female, these being seen briefly displaying by Stuart.  At this point we separated, the site being so vast it afforded endless opportunities for exploration.  Trees were bursting into leaf and flower all over the reserve, the most notable of these being the black poplar and also a European larch, which looked spectacular with its male and female flowers showing well.  An absolute delight and my personal spot of the day.  23 plants in flower were recorded by Alice with an interesting find of a woody growth on a Cirsium arvensis.  Apparently this was caused by a gall fly,  Urophora cardi, and on later dissection at home by Alice, the larva was found.  

Bird sightings numbered 52 with the chaffinch in particular looking resplendent in their breeding plumage.  Alice spotted a couple of yellow wagtails bathing in a puddle and Stuart and Julia were privy to a pair of little ringed plover mating.  Alison had to avert her eyes at this point!

A thoroughly enjoyable day with plenty to see and to crown it all, on departure, a hare was spotted in a field as we drove out of the reserve. Magic!  Many thanks to Stuart and Julia for driving and Alice for her co-leadership.

See photos here. 

Sally

WFV, Great Northern Trail, Thornton,10th April 2018

Marcescence On BeechMarcescence On BeechA very wet morning did not deter Stuart from driving four other stalwarts to Thornton. On arrival the lure of the cafe was too great to ignore and an ideal place to meet Lorna, our leader, who then escorted us along the Sustrans Route.

 

Spring had visited but was not in attendance today. Fortunately the walk was on metalled paths although there was standing water on the verges. Only twelve plants were seen in flower. All year round flowerers were joined by Butterbur (male), Lesser Celandine and, surprisingly, Creeping Corydalis which was spotted by Maddie. Trees with flowers were Goat Willows showing both male and female catkins, and tufts of red stamens on Elm. Shrubs were represented by Gorse giving our brightest splashes of colour and Blackthorn in varying stages of opening.

Moss covered walls relieved the monochrome grey vistas and Maiden Hair Spleenwort was abundant on one bridge while absent on others. Fungi seen were Jelly Ear and the remains of what must previously have been an enormous puffball.

Birds were reclusive with sound being the trigger for most sightings. Eighteen species were recorded ranging from the diminutive wren to members of the crow family. A nuthatch and a green woodpecker may have been lurking but were not seen. The highlight of the day was the welcome sound of the chiff chaffs back here for the summer, 

Young rabbits were the only mammal seen although we suspected that damage to tree bark may have been caused by deer.

It was a pity that because of the conditions the planned route had to be shortened.  Lorna's wealth of knowledge of the history and development of the area was much appreciated . We arrived back at Culture Fusion in the early afternoon. Thanks to both Lorna and Stuart.

 See photos here. 

Alice

 

 

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