Wildlife Field Visit group's blog

WFV, Grimwith Reservoir &Trollers Ghyll, 31st May 2016

Adder's Tongue FernAdder's Tongue FernA magnificent day out with lots to do and see.

Leaders: Stuart & Joan

Attendees : 13

Habitats: Grimwith- grassland and woodland and rocky shoreline surrounding the large Yorkshire Water reservoir.

Trollers Ghyll - stream side leading to limestone outcrops and lead mining spoil heaps.

Weather- Grimwith cool and breezy; Trollers Ghyll warmer - fine but cloudy in the main throughout the day.


Number of species seen Total Birds = 34, Flowers Total Grimwith 69 & 6 ferns, Trollers Ghyll 75 & 4 ferns.

Significant species: Birds Grimwith: Ringed Plover(Stuart), Common Sandpiper, Curlew, Merlin, Oystercatcher, Reed Bunting, Spotted Flycatcher (botanists), Chaffinch. This area is an important breeding ground for these birds.

Trollers Ghyll:Grey Wagtail, Willow warbler, Jackdaw, Green Woodpecker, Wheatear and Buzzard ( Stuart).

Flowers: Grimwith Adder's Tongue Fern in good numbers, Round leaved Crowfoot, Bog Stichwort. Early spring flowers Cowslip, Bluebell and Bugle were seen in prime condition.

 Troller's Ghyll: Large Bittercress, Early purple orchid, Tormentil, an assemblage of plants associated with a limestone rock garden - Bedstraws, Rock rose leaves not flowers,  Salad Burnet, Bird's foot Trefoil, Blue moor grass, Quaking grass and Pignut. Spring sandwort ( Stuart again!) Mammals-Rabbit


Refreshments: Parcevall Hall tea rooms.

Thanks go to all for their contribution to this lovely day out. Great to see Donald back in the fold- he wasn't away for long!

See the photos here. 



WFV, Malhamdale-Airton, 24th May 2016

By The RiverBy The River

A sunny morning saw a complement of 12 set off for Airton, where we were joined by Alan who managed to locate us in spite of our parking in a location just behind Airton Mills.  From here we commenced our walk along the river bank which provided plenty for the botanists amongst us to record, though a redpoll was seen by Stuart along this section.  Initial progress was slow as expected with so much to see however joining the Pennine Way footpath provided more opportunity for the birders as we worked our way towards our lunch stop at Kirby Malham churchyard, where a goldcrest flitting amongst a yew tree provided interest whilst we ate our sandwiches.

After lunch we divided into 2 groups, the first group being led by Alice back towards Airton along the other side of the river.  I led the other group of 6 on a walk over the fields above the church where we had wonderful views of Malham Cove.  Curlews and oystercatchers were also spotted on route.  Both groups amazingly finished respective walks at the same time and adjourned to the Town End tea rooms in Airton for refreshments.

In total the day provided 35 bird sightings, including a spotted flycatcher.  124 species of flower were recorded, 106 of which were in flower plus 7 ferns.  Butterfly count produced green veined white, numerous orange tips and one peacock.  Thanks to Alice for leading and Robert for driving.

See the photos here. 

Sally Tetlow

WFV, Wetherby And The River Wharfe, 17th May 2016

On The LaneOn The Lane

Marilyn and her husband Robert joined forces this week to lead a walk in Wetherby, After the minibus dropped off the group at Morrisons in Wetherby, Robert led the minibus to park up at the end of the planned walk. Having rejoined the group at Morrisons we were led along the High Street before we turned off through the Wilderness car park to reach the riverside path. It was here that we spotted a treecreeper. The group quickly became strung out with the botanists taking their time and delighting in the abundance of spring, over the day seeing almost twice as many plants in flower as on the previous trip. The final tally was 112 plants in flower and 4 ferns. Notable species on the riverside included Yellow Archangel, Wood Melick and Russian Comfrey. A kingfisher was seen on the river and a buzzard was seen overhead, being mobbed by a crow. 29 birds were seen in total.

The faster paced of the group had a very leisurely lunch stop as they waited for the botanists to join them. After lunch as we left the river path, there was no doubting that we were passing close to the water treatment works. Our route continued along a hedge-lined lane where Greater Stitchwort and Black Bryony were recorded. A yellowhammer was seen as we skirted the perimeter of a field where we also spotted a distant hare running around. 

Singing RobinSinging RobinAfter crossing a road a Four Spotted Chaser was seen beside a pond; one of 5 dragonflies/damselflies seen. The dry, moderately warm conditions yielded a butterfly count of 5 including Brimstone, Orange Tip and Peacock. We turned off the road, passing Wetherby racecourse, continuing downhill to join the trackbed of the disused railway line which took us back to the bus via the underpass. 

 The variety of habitats on this walk had undoubtedly been a factor in providing rich botanical interest. The wild cherry blossom and apple blossom were particularly beautiful and it was very unusual to see 6 species of Speedwell in one outing. 

Many thanks to Marilyn and Robert for leading this lovely walk. See the pictures here. 


WFV, Sefton Coast, 10th May 2016

Group In The Sand DunesGroup In The Sand DunesToday's trip was to a favourite site, Sefton Coast, and to a special friend of BEES, Pat Lockwood. We had planned to visit a different part of the coast from previous visits but Pat had found that a recent dry spell of weather meant that the Spring annuals that she had wanted to show us were over but she found them in a spot previously visited. A full minibus left Bradford and journeyed to Formby in the hope that we might avoid the forecast rain showers and was welcomed by Pat at her home where we ate our lunch sandwiches in the company of local expert Philip Smith who was again to be our guide for the day.

The showers started as we left for the coast and persisted throughout the afternoon but were never heavy enough to spoil our enjoyment of the many plants that were on display. Joan recorded 58 plants in flower together with four ferns. Of special interest were Spring Beauty, Dune Pansy, Early Forget-me-not, Hound's-tongue, Sea Pea, Lamb's Lettuce, Portland Spurge, Marsh Pennywort, Curled Dock and various rare grasses including Early Hair Grass. Heath Dog-violet was abundant and Milkwort was found in three different colours; white, blue and mauve - the first time that Joan had come across all three on the same site. This is the location of the very rare Creeping Willow hybrid Salix x Friesiana (of which we were able to see examples in Pat's garden!)

Creeping Willow was also abundant on the dunes and supported large numbers of White Satin Moth caterpillars. One Angle Shades caterpillar was also recorded and one Northern Tiger Dune Beetle to the delight of John. The natterjack toads, however, kept out of sight on this occasion!

Whilst most members were enthralled with the botanical delights of the site one or two set out to discover what bird life there might be around and we managed to record 29 species including whitethroat, stonechat, reed bunting and both sedge and reed warbler.

After an interesting afternoon in the field we returned to Pat's house for tea and cakes, several of which had been baked by group members for which we were very grateful and so it was a contented group which returned to Bradford in the early evening. Many thanks to Joan and her friend Pat for the organisation of the day and for Pat's splendid hospitality, to Julia and Robert for the driving and to Sue who stuck to her photography duties despite suffering the ravages of jet-lag after her recent return from China.

See the photos here. 


WFV Oxenber and Wharfe Woods, Austwick near Settle, 3rd May 2016

Early Purple OrchidsEarly Purple OrchidsWhilst waiting at the Branch, Shipley for the minibus a short,sharp shower didn't auger well for the day to come. As our group of 11 travelled towards Austwick (the toilet stop and start of the walk) the leaden clouds looked very threatening. However, during the day, we were treated to dry weather and plenty of sunshine. Quite glorious,although there was a chilly breeze and jackets were needed.

The temperatures were not high enough to tempt out any butterflies or moths. The flowers were in abundance however.

A total of 32 flowering plants were recorded by Alice; the stars of the show were the Wood Anenomes which festooned the hillsides. I have never seen so many. Early Purple Orchids were just starting to emerge, none were seen larger than 4 inches. Sweet Violets, Common Dogs, Primroses, Bluebells and False Oxlips also were in good numbers.

Only a few birds were seen though Willow Warblers were plentiful.

Our meander through these renowned limestone pasture woodlands led us first through Oxenber and then into Wharfe Wood and onwards towards the village of Feizor and 'Elaine's Tea Rooms' for our afternoon repast. The itinerary did make mention of Feizor Wood but I was not aware of entering said wood. 

Julia, our driver, rather selflessly walked back to Austwick to collect the bus to save the group a further mile and a bit of walking. Elaine's cakes are particularly good and their teas are served in proper teapots!

A splendid day, all in all. 

See the photos here. 

John Gavaghan

WFV, Thorp Perrow Arboretum, 26th April 2016

Unidentified TreeUnidentified Tree

Rain, hail and snow were forecast for our trip to Thorp Perrow Arboretum and the meteorologists were not wrong!  There were, however, plenty of sunny periods in between although the temperature never got to anywhere near seasonal expectations and the visitor centre and cafe became a welcome refuge at different times of the day.

BEES previous visits to the Arboretum have been in Autumn so it was a different scene on this visit with swathes of bluebells, daffodils and wood anemones dotted amongst the trees although some of the colours in the acers were very autumnal and attractive. The early blossom trees added contrast to the colours and proved attractive to the few bees that braved the weather.

Of the birds in the Birds of Prey section, only the snowy owls looked at home although the laughing kookaburras lived up to their name. Hail was falling quite intensely at the designated time for flying  but some of the group did manage to see some action a little later.

36 plants were recorded in flower of which few-flowered leek and toothwort were the highlights, the eagle-eyed Lorna spotting the latter which excited the botanists.  The bird total for the day was 30 with goldcrest, buzzard, linnet and nuthatch being the pick although it was also good to see a mallard with the first three ducklings of the season.  Two lovely rainbow trout were spotted in the lake and an occasional fungus was noted.

Thanks to Sue and Robert for driving and to Vera who co-ordinated the day very efficiently.

See the photos here.  


WFV, Staveley YWT Nature Reserve, 19th April 2016

Staveley Poplars and ChurchStaveley Poplars and Church

The weather atoned for last week although in spite of the sunshine jackets were welcome at the start of our walk. John, as leader, stated that perhaps the only hazard was that we may get lost on the large site. Fortunately some members knew the site well as disappointingly no new direction signs had been added since our last visit.

We set off together heading for the East Lagoon but soon the group had separated as we each made our observations. It was good to see the tree buds breaking and to renew acquaintance with last week's discovery of Norway Maple in flower! We identified Goat and Crack Willow noting the dioecious arrangement of the male and female flowers on separate trees.Other willows, particularly hybrids, were undoubtedly there but insufficient knowledge renders them nameless. Blackthorn and Wild Cherry provided patches of brilliant white; just three individual Hawthorn flowers were spotted. Herbaceous plants in flower numbered 33 on the site including our first sighting for the year of Common Mouse-ear.

Was it my imagination or were the yellows brighter and the blues deeper? Green Alkanet certainly supported my view. In wetter areas Greater Pond Sedge and Water Horsetail were seen. The total flower list was 48, the additions being made by Joan and Eric on a visit to the village. Goldilocks, found in the church yard, was the star here. Coltsfoot in fruit was to be expected and Dandelion clocks in early Spring undoubtedly give the seeds a chance to colonize areas before other plants even flower.

The lagoons looked magnificent reflecting the deep blue sky and if the increasing temperature had encouraged the plants it had had a similar effect on bird life. Birdsong accompanied us for most of the day; principal soloists were willow warbler, chiffchaff, blackcap, blackbird and sedge warbler whilst robins, tits, reed buntings and wrens formed the bulk of the chorus. Not all members recognized the singers but all enjoyed the music! Water birds and wader numbers were disappointingly low although it was a privilege to watch a swan building her nest. A grand total of 51 birds were recorded by Donald who we are delighted to have back with us. (NB. Bird count higher than Flower numbers) For many members it was the first sighting of the year for swallow, sand martin, sedge warbler and reed warbler.

Brimston, Peacock, Small Tortoishell and Small White butterflies were, like us, relishing the blooming of Spring.

Ten members had a most enjoyable and interesting day. Thanks to Robert for our safe journey to Staveley and home again and to Stuart for helping to get the correct version of this to the web site!


WFV, Hooton Pagnell/Hampole Woods, 12th April 2016

Wild Daffodil DisplayWild Daffodil Display

The main purpose of this visit was to see the renowned display of Wild native daffodils. We had originally planned to go in 2013 with Lorna and her husband Andrew leading the walk; however this had to be cancelled owing to Andrew's ill health. The rearranged trip the following year also had to be cancelled for the same reason. A decision was taken not to include this on the 2015 programme.

This bedevilled outing finally went ahead after Stuart, Gillian and Lorna kindly recc'ed the walk. Stuart informed the group that conditions underfoot were'nt too muddy as the soil was mostly sandy. Much of the evidence for this sandy soil was mostly hidden by the mud!  It had rained quite a lot since his visit.

We are often blessed by dry weather for our Tuesday outings, but not on this occasion. It was raining as soon as the party of 11 left the minibus, lightly at first but became incessant as the day wore on. We were only spared rain for a brief period whilst we were in the heart of this large ancient woodland. Far too wet to have our lunches outside so we had to wait till we were back in the bus, shortly after 13:00, before we could eat.  I did wonder if our 4 late cancellees had seen the weather forecast and decided not to risk it?   

They did however miss a treat as the wood contains many thousands of these daffodils, many of which were seen in large swathes. Wild Garlic (not yet in flower, but with its unmistakeable scent) also abounded as did Bluebells. Several of the latter were in bloom.  Plenty of Greater Stitchwort and Wood Anemones also. A total of 31 (or was it 33?) plants in flower were recorded; this included a number of trees such as Blacktorn and Norway Maple. The latter was a new one for me.

On the path leading to the wood we were treated to the sight of several Yellowhammers. One female was on the same bush for several minutes till I arrived with my big umbrella and frightened it off!  Four species of fungi were spotted (Dryad's Saddle, Birch Polypore, Inkcaps and Yellow/Hairy Curtain Crust).

Obviously no chance of any moths or butterflies though Stuart did find on taking his hat off for lunch (ever the gentleman!) that a small looper (geometrid) caterpillar had hitched a ride. This was passed back to me for identification. Not an easy task but preliminary studies indicate Mottled Beauty as a strong possibility. I have given it a new home; a box with bramble leaves and honeysuckle as a foodsource. I reckon it has a better chance of survival than out there in Hampole Wood with all those hungry birds!

Alice saw a weasel and Robert, our joint driver with Sue spotted a fox. 

Our toilet stop on the way back also turned into an opportunity for a hot drink at Costa. This was at the Ferrybridge Services where a year ago we had called in after our never to be forgotten five hour journey back from North Cave Wetlands.

It was still raining when we arrived back in Bradford!  

John Gavaghan

WFV, Penyghent and Stainforth, 29th March 2016

Snow Topped Pen-Y-GhentSnow Topped Pen-Y-Ghent

Snow was forecast for high ground as we departed for a trip to Ribblesdale but it was not long after we left Bradford that we hit a storm and as the landscape became white at low level we wondered what awaited us higher up.  Fortunately the storm proved to be short-lived and before we reached Settle all signs of snow had disappeared.

Our first stop was at Stainforth where a small party of five disembarked for a walk in that area (of which more later) whilst the remaining nine proceeded to Horton for an expedition to see the purple saxifrage, an alpine plant which grows on the flanks on Penyghent – one of the few places in England where it can be found.

We started our walk in light rain but the clouds soon lifted to reveal an attractive snow-covered Penyghent. As we climbed higher the weather changed again and we encountered showers of snow and hail and by the time we had reached our destination at around 2000ft snow was lying on the ground.  Our efforts, though, were rewarded with the sight of the saxifrage in flower and for Amanda and Sally a special treat as this was their first sighting of the rare plant.

Further dark clouds threatened as we ate our lunch under the limestone outcrop on which the plant grows and we were soon enveloped in another snowstorm but after that the weather brightened and as we made our way back to Horton we watched as the snow almost disappeared from Penyghent in the sunshine.

Bird life was sparse on the fell with only a few meadow pipits and no wheatear seen but a diversion to Hull Pot produced a brief sighting of a dipper near a previously recorded nesting place. Twenty one other birds, including raven, were recorded by Donald who also noted six plants in flower.

Purple SaxifragePurple SaxifrageThis was a tough walk by BEES standards and although one or two found their fitness levels severely tested, all agreed that the effort had been worthwhile and we had enjoyed a very interesting day.

Thanks to Robert for driving in sometimes demanding conditions.


The five strollers left at Stainforth were ably led by Marilyn who stepped in in Margaret's absence. We ambled through some of the village before taking the route towards the Foss. The stone walls bordering the path were covered with a superb display of lichens. Many species had reproductive structures clearly visible eg.prominent apothecia like mini jam tarts on crustose lichens and clusters of funnel shaped podetia on Cladonia species. As always it was difficult to believe that some were living organisms and not daubs of paint. The Foss was pronounced impressive but not visitor friendly.

Nostalgia set in while watching a farrier working with modern technology out in the field rather than in a smithy as in our youth! 

A visit to The Craven Heifer for an excellent lunch recharged our batteries after which we explored the churchyard, more lichens, and sauntered along paths and village streets before returning to the pub to await the minibus.

Plants in flower were sparse; finally twenty were recorded with Butterbur, Creeping Comfrey (most likely a garden escape) Danish Scurvygrass and Common Whitlowgrass being the most interesting. Five ferns were seen with Polypodies causing puzzlement as to species or was the second one a hybrid? Many opening buds and young leaves promise much to come.

A collared dove and a blackbird are all I recollect for the bird count! 

The new venture of offering an alternative walk to the main more strenous one was appreciated.


PS. This is my first blog. Constructive criticism will be welcomed!

See the photos here. 

WFV, Boston Spa River Walk, 15th March 2016

Stinking HelleboreStinking HelleboreThis week's trip to Boston Spa was to be led by Joan and Alice but Joan ably took on full leadership responsibility when Alice dropped out due to illness. A full bus parked up in the centre of Boston Spa. From here we walked along the High Street taking in the very varied and often impressive buildings and pausing to read the blue plaques that outlined the history of the residences. There seemed to be a lot of new construction in the area prompting a discussion about the difference between a town and a village. Apparently a place is a town if it has a regular market.

From the High Street we turned off towards the riverside path. Here we saw goosander and long tailed tits. We stopped for lunch near the weir and the fish pass and then climbed up the slope to the cliff tops before descending again through the wooded area of Deepdale to reach the riverside which afforded views of Jackdaw Crag, a rocky outcrop of limestone cliffs. 

Botanical interest today included winter heliotrope, dog violets and cow parsley which was in flower much earlier than expected. 24 plants in flower were recorded. 28 birds were noted. A green woodpecker was heard but not seen but the highlight was the sighting of several buzzards in flight. A few fungi were seen including ganoderma and turkeytail. 

We made our way back to the High Street where many of the group called in at tea rooms. The day had started on a cool note but it had got brighter and warmer throughout the day making it a very pleasant walk. Thanks to Joan for leading today's trip and to Robert for parking the bus neatly in a parking spot so I didn't get another parking ticket. (The first one was rescinded, thankfully). 

See the photos here. 




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