Wildlife Field Visit group's blog

WFV, Rother Valley Country Park, 19th May, 2009

Great Crested Grebe on nestGreat Crested Grebe on nestWe were one person short of a full minibus for our visit to the Rother Valley Country Park led by Donald Lightowler. Closure of part of the M62 required that we take the scenic route to our destination. Our walk started along the River Rother where we observed grey wagtails feeding young. The vertical banks of this section of river betrayed its canalisation. The showers were interspersed with welcome, fleeting glimpses of sunshine. We were pleased to note the first damselfly sighting of 2009, possibly a common blue damselfly. After negotiating the path between the lagoon and the fishing lake we stopped for lunch despite the rain. The showers gave way to more persistent and increasingly heavy rain, and our resolve was fading. We headed back to the visitor centre and sought refuge in the café. Many of us were wet through and after leaving the café, the general consensus was to depart earlier than planned. 68 plants in flower were recorded. Our bird tally of 30 would no doubt have been higher if we had explored the woodland area as planned. A highlight for me was seeing a great-crested grebe on a nest.  

Sue (understudy to Stuart our regular, more eloquent blogger!)


WFV Upper Teesdale 12.05.09

Upper Teasdale, Spring GentianUpper Teasdale, Spring GentianThis season's extended day out took us to Upper Teesdale where a fine blustery (make that windy!) day allowed ample time to explore the areas of Moor House National Nature Reserve, which included Cow Green Reservoir and Cauldron Snout, and the High Force area.  The altitude (1500ft) meant that most plants were not inclined to put their heads too far above the ground and so some flower recognition was not easy. The wind and the altitude meant also that bird species were limited, but the botanists were especially thrilled with sightings of spring gentian, bird's eye primrose, mountain pansy and moonwort whilst the ornithologically inclined members were over the moon with sightings of a pair of ring ouzels and even more excited when the nest was observed with the female in residence.  The juniper area produced woodcock with young and a fly-past by goosander and RAF Hercules.  Total bird sightings was 36, which considering the altitude and the wind was very good, whilst 46 flowering plants and 7 ferns were recorded.

The day was rounded off with dinner at the Good Beer Guide listed Langdon Beck Hotel, where the Black Sheep was on good form before we returned to Bradford as the clock entered the last hour of an enjoyable day.

The full minibus trip was superbly organised once again by Joan Dobson and Eric Beety.

Please look in the wfv gallery for other photos of the day


WFV Cattal (Aubert Ings) & Staveley Nature Reserve 05.05.09

there are about 200 varieties of dandelion, some of them quite beautiful like this one captured at Staveley today.there are about 200 varieties of dandelion, some of them quite beautiful like this one captured at Staveley today.Joan Dobson and Sue Zajaczkowska led this week's superbly organised outing to Nidderdale which a record number of 22 members enjoyed. Again we seemed to be lucky with the weather as we headed East, away from the Pennine cloud and rain.

The large attendance meant that we needed to take two minibuses - a first for the group.  Some older members did find entry into and egress from the new minibus somewhat vertiginously challenging but this did not seem to spoil their day.

At Cattal we recorded 24 plants in flower, the stars being wild tulips (which unfortunately had mostly gone over*) and early purple orchids.  The highlight for the birders was the group's first sighting this year of swifts as ten or a dozen streezhed** their way around the site.

Staveley sedge warblerStaveley sedge warblerStaveley produced another first -the group's first recording of rats feeding underneath the bird feeders - very healthy they looked, too!  52 plants were in flower and reed buntings and sedge warblers, amongst many others, sang to us and their intended.  Sue was disappointed that some birds which she had seen on her recce the day before did not show, but not all species take kindly to having their space invaded by 22 bodies!

Total bird sightings for the day was 41.

* Gone over - botanical name for 'died'

** Streezhing - Tordoff name for the call of swifts from the superbly onomatopoeic Russian name for a swift - Streezh


WFV Shelf and Local Woodlands 28.04.09

Bluebells in Judy Woods, courtesy of Friends of Judy Woods websiteBluebells in Judy Woods, courtesy of Friends of Judy Woods websiteBrian Ellis and Stuart Tordoff led this week's walk which was local for a change and covered a strenuous circular 5 miles from Shelf via Norwood Green.  Starting at the car park at Bridle Stile we set off down the Calderdale Way to Sun Wood to admire the bluebells.  We then headed back through Shelf Woods to Woodside and lunched in Royds Hall Great Wood which overlooks Jagger Park Wood.  The way was then to Horse Close Bridge (aka Judy Bridge) and Low Wood before climbing to Norwood Green and a short stop at the Wayfarers seats before we returned to Shelf past Ox Heys and North Wood down the 108 steps and past Dean House.

In the absence of Donald, our chief recorder, the bird count was low this week and we struggled to get to 30 species but Joan recorded 65 plants and ferns in flower and we did learn something of the history and the geology of the area.

The forecast rain did not arrive until we had finished our walk which was undertaken by 14 members this week who all seemed to enjoy the day.


WFV West Tanfield, Nosterfield & Marfield Wetlands 21.04.09

Star of BethlehemStar of BethlehemWe were blessed with superb weather again this week when Margaret Rees led 18 members on a varied day out.  We started at West Tanfield where yellow star of Bethlehem was found amongst many other species on the river bank as we listened to a blackcap singing away.  We then decamped to Nosterfield for a brief visit to the superb bird hide where avocets were the star attraction.  We were serenaded by another blackcap as we ate our lunch at the Tarmac site at Nosterfield before progressing to Marfield Wetlands, situated on the Middleham road out of Masham which was a new destination for the group.  Here we had a plesant 3km walk round the site where Mute swans, greylag geese and great crested grebe were all seen sitting on nests.  The day was rounded off with a short refreshment stop in Masham before we headed off back to Bradford.  A total of 46 bird species was recorded as well as 134 plants, 70 of which were in flower.


WFV Sizergh Castle & Gardens 7th April 2009

daffodils at Sizerghdaffodils at SizerghJoan Dobson led a full complement of 20 members to Sizergh where we enjoyed a bright, blustery day when the showers that were about fell elsewhere.  The location allowed the option of anything between a leisurely stroll through the gardens and castle and a decent walk over the fells but it wasn't necessary to walk too far to get  spectacular views over Morecambe Bay, with Arnside Knot and viaduct prominent, the mountains of the Lakes and Ingleborough which all gave excellent views.  The wind kept the bird count low this week, but we did manage to record 35 species in the day, with perhaps close-up views of a pair of buzzards being the highlight.  No hawfinches were spotted and we're beginning to think that this bird must be related to the Yeti - does anyone know anyone that's seen one??   Flowers and ferns totalled 33 with the highlights being brown-backed fern (but see note in comments!) and moschatel (our inexperienced recorder had the former down on the bird list as a brown-backed tern until he was told that such a bird doesn't exist!).  BEES is working hard on the second E of the acronym (for educational) but obviously has some way yet to go!



WFV, Ledsham and Fairburn Ings, 31st March 2009

A Nice Place to Live, Ledsham/Fairburn Ings, Mar09A Nice Place to Live, Ledsham/Fairburn Ings, Mar09Gillian & Stuart led this week's trip when 14 members enjoyed a lovely day out when we walked from Ledsham over the fields to RSPB Fairburn Ings, passing a wood with more violets (sweet and early dog) than Joan has ever seen in her life (that really is saying something!) and then we returned by a different field route which passed through a wood with a remakable display of wood anemones and where the first bluebells of Spring were just showing flower.  A record total of 52 bird species was seen or heard and 36 plant species  were recorded as well as comma and orange tip butterfly.  Most of us enjoyed a refreshing drink at the Chequers Inn (who had very kindly allowed us to park our (new) minibus in their carpark) before returning to Bradford.  Watch out for some lovely photos of willow tits taken by Sue who will try to post them on this blog.


WFV, Nat Coal Mining Museum/Yorks Sculpture Park

The Mask, Yorkshire Sculpture park, Feb09The Mask, Yorkshire Sculpture park, Feb09Hi Everyone, a short report in case this, my first attempt at a blog, fails!

After a break of a couple of trips necessitated by an Antipodean adventure, I joined this week's field trip to South Yorkshire.  The varied options of the visits meant that the trip was much more fragmented than usual but we had an enjoyable day with half the party decending to the depths of the coal mine whilst the others stayed on the surface.

At Bretton we wandered off in small groups and I had the pleasure of Donald's company for most of our time there.  Bird life was not plentiful, but we did manage singing song thrush, goosander, great crested grebe, singing nuthatch and kingfisher together with the usual suspects.

Joan had spotted Wall Rue and Slender Speedwell before I lost her and Donald pointed out Maidenhair Spleenwort and corrected my identification of Winter Heliotrope (Petasites fragrans) to that of White Butterbur (P. albus) - at least I got the P. right!

Hope that this blog works - I look forward to some more blogs from other members.




Tuesday 3 March Clumber Park Nottinghamshire

ClumberPark, March09ClumberPark, March09Our group of 16 enjoyed the varied landscape of Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire.  Among the 33 bird species recorded were greater spotted woodpecker, red poll,willow tit, goosander and grey lag goose. We enjoyed the exhibition showing the work on the park also the parks use in war time. A repeat visit was suggested.


Tuesday 17 February 2009 Knaresborough - Nidd Gorge geology trail

Knaresboro, Feb09Knaresboro, Feb09This was a geology walk conducted in mild weather involving a party of 21 people.The conditions were muddy under foot.We enjoyed our walk beside the River Nidd examining the rock formation of the Permian / Carboniferous rocks on the way . Knaresborough is picturesque at all times.We enjoyed drinks in the open air at the end of the walk in the vicinity of the viaduct, a reminder of Switzerland.


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