WFV Skipton Castle Woods 24th September 2019
Eight people left Bradford in rain, returned home in rain and had no respite from the weather between those times. The intention to follow the canal towpath to the entrance of the woods had to be abandoned due to the collapse of a section of canal wall. We were soon back on track and avoiding deep puddles as we put our identification skills into practice. Very soon we spotted Hazel Sawfly caterpillars efficiently skeletonising leaves. This was our only insect record of the day.
Once in the woods the mainly surfaced paths simplified walking but the tree canopy had little effect on the falling rain. The first of the impressive willow structures beckoned us on. We followed the path along the floor of the wood later climbing to the higher northern side where the second willow structure was equally admired. Steps were retraced, the Eller Beck crossed and steps climbed to follow the parallel upper path back to town and subsequently to the mini-bus.
It was a lovely day for ducks but only mallard were recorded on the round dam. Other birds seen were blackbirds near the wood entrance, a single great tit and three grey wagtails. No bird sound was heard - just that of rushing water.
Ferns were the ground plants of the day. Polypody appeared first. There were good populations of both Hartstongue and Hard Shield ferns, both Male and Scaley Male, some Broad Buckler, one single Field Horsetail and on the higher ground, Bracken. A small patch of Maidenhair Spleenwort was found on a moss clothed rocky wall together with Wood Melick in seed and Wall Lettuce still showing yellow petals. Valuable identification points were shared by Julia after her recent fern course. Lunch was taken on the stone poetry bench although even a frog dashed for cover at this point.
Soon after entering the wood Southern Brackets and large clumps of fruiting Honey fungus attracted our attention. A variety of fungi were found on the higher northern ground. John named these as: Sulphur Tuft, Mycenas, Stump Puffballs, Entelomas, Collared Parachute, Root Rot, Purple Pored Bracket and a Russula species. The almost total clothing of a six foot fallen trunk by a resupinate "Whitewash fungus" was a new sight for me. Some identification was not confirmed until books could be accessed ie. in the cafe and minibus.
As expected only a few herbaceous plants had flowers, with two Wild Angelica heads taking top prize, but plenty had fruit. Ivy flowers were opening. Lime and Beech fruits had fallen. Hips, haws and Yew arils provided spots of colour while the darker blackberries, elderberries and sloes were offset by the white fruits of Snowberry. There was little doubt that autumn is only around the corner.
Conditions were not ideal but, in my opinion, did not detract from the enjoyment and benefits of the day.
Many thanks to Kevin for driving in less than ideal conditons.
See the photos here.