Twelve of us gathered at the Surprise View car park on Otley Chevin on a glorious sunny but cool summer morning The plan for the day was to meander through the two meadows which had been especially seeded with wild flowers - food plants for butterflies. However we would also cover the other varied habitats of the Chevin- heather moorland, woodland and ponds. Great Britain was now in second place on the Rio medal table.
The group marvelled at the panorama in front of them when they climbed onto Surprise View. The purples of the Heather in full flower and Rose Bay willowherb shone in the sunlight. Springfield Meadow was somewhat disappointing for butterflies. A suggestion was made that the wild flower mix consisting in the main of Clover, Yellow rattle, and Eyebright was not all that suitable for butterflies. A Meadow Brown was spotted and a Painted Lady in pristine condition was seen settling on Field Scabious. Following our spot of Common Spotted orchids in seed we proceeded down a track recommended by Marilyn which was more productive. Three Commas and a Red Admiral were seen near a stand of Globe Thistle. A Green Veined White, Tortoiseshell, and Speckled Wood were observed further down the track. The group returned to a lunch spot by ascending a path of flag stones across the heather moorland. Lunch was enjoyed in sunshine with views. Sue even sneaked a "Magna"from the ice cream van that had arrived.
Our afternoon sortie was in the direction of York Gate Quarry. However a small group including both leaders took the wrong path and had a steep ascent through Bilberry to join the rest of the party. On the edge of the wood there was an interesting find - Common Hemp Nettle. As we descended to the pond were heard the whistle of Long Tailed Tits, later seen. Two small birds "Willow chaff"were seen at the bottom of the reeds, so named by John as he was uncertain of their identification as either Willow Warbler or Chiff Chaff. In the pond we saw Bur-reed, Yellow Flag, Greater Spearwort and Water Mint. Wandering back through the meadow a pair of Skippers were seen dancing in the long grass. We enjoyed a "special" meadow by the car park while awaiting the arrival of the minibus. The meadow contained an abundance of spikes of Southern Marsh Orchid in seed also Yellow Loosestrife. We had been able to tick 11 species of butterfly but what was significant was the low numbers. Where have all the butterflies gone? Flower species numbered 107. Additional notable birds were Red Kite and Buzzard.
Our day was nicely rounded off by a visit to the Little Granary at Caring for Life for celebratory tea and cake. So off to resuming our viewing of the Olympics and more British medals.
See the photos here.