The day began with a trip to a garage for a replacement tyre after which Julia sadly had to leave us. We had previously received notice of two cancellations and then we had another absentee on the day; so we were left a select band of six, our driver Kevin, Amanda, Alice, Sue N, Jane & myself.
It was a fresh day following overnight rain. A mix of clouds & blue sky with a northerly breeze but thankfully no rain forecast. Our next disappointment was the toilet stop at Kippax Leisure Centre. This venue nowadays only opens at 13:00 on a Tues!
Our first site, Ledston Luck, was just 5 min's around the corner. This used to be a coalmine which only closed in 1986 & is now a YWT local NR. We were able to park the mini-bus in the nearby Enterprise CP and then had a walk of a few hundred yards alongside the very busy A656 Ridge Rd to our destination. A party of volunteers were busy at the entrance removing excessive vegetation, one of them known to our driver!
There was a rich variety of wildflowers; Red Bartsia,Gypsywort, Eyebright, Common Fleabane, Melilots (both ribbed & tall), Hairy Tare & Yellow Loosestrife. We concentrated on the area closest to the large pond & were rewarded with close ups of Emerald Damselflys, Common & Ruddy Darters plus several high flying hawkers. Meadow Browns, Green-veined Whites, Large White, Painted Ladies, Peacock, Gatekeeper & Small Skipper were the only butterflies seen. We stayed till just after one o'clock & returned to the car park where we took our lunch on a convenient concrete circular construction? It had the benefit of being warm & dry!
Our next port of call was the Garforth Garden Centre which is directly opposite the path leading to Roach Lime Hills. Strangely, none of the group wished to avail themselves of the toilet facilities? This site is on magnesian limestone & so is botanically very rich. We first had to walk past a large field of Sugar Beet & numerous arable plants were spotted en route such as Corn Sowthistle, Mayweeds, Poppies, Creeping Cinquefoil, Field Bindweed, Fat Hen, Sun Spurge & Spear-leaved Orache, various thistles, teasels etc. Further butterflies were fluttering in these margins; Small Tortoiseshell, Comma & Small Whites.
Eventually we did actually arrive at the Lime Hills & progress then slowed to a virtual halt as there were even more plants for the botanists to ID; Wild Basil & Marjoram abounded. Other notable finds included: Corn Mint, Fairy Flax, Spiny Restharrow, Musk Thistle & Clustered Bellflower. Not many butterflies on site but a couple of moths: Silver Y & Agriphila tristella (a very common grass moth). Several small fungi were brought to my attention but the only one I could positively ID was Blackening Waxcap. The others seemed to be Entelomas & Psathyrellas which need microscopy to get to species level.
Jane's keen hearing brought a flock of Yellowhammers & Goldfinches to our attention just before we left the site. Most of the group did enter the garden centre premises before we departed at 16:15 & got back to Culture Fusion at 17:10. Traffic is always kinder during the school hols!
Thanks to our driver Kevin.
See the photos here.