Baildon Bank

Submitted by Wildlife Field… on Tue, 28th Apr 2020, 2:53pm

This is the closest open space to where I live. Because of its topography it is not an easy place to pinpoint on a map. On the O.S 1:50,000 map it is shown but you need a keen eye to spot it and there isn't room enough for its name to be shown. Another drawback is that Baildon is annoyingly on the main fold of the map!

If you happen to have the Bradford Street Atlas turn to page 17,square G2. You will see that the bottom of the Bank is bounded to the south by Green Rd;  Midgeley Wood marks its westerly extremity and the perimeter fence at the back of Sandal's School (previously known as Belmont Middle School) forms part of the northern boundary. Bank Walk at its north eastern edge provides the nearest access from the village centre.

The Bank can be accessed by a number of other paths: Salisbury Ave, Hardaker Lane & Sandal's School (all downhill routes) and several uphill paths from Green Rd.  Hardaker Lane brings you to the top of Midgeley Wood, left leads down to the Bank & going right eventually leads to Prod Lane/Shipley Glen. My quickest access point is Salisbury Ave & I can be there in under 5 mins but for variety I also use each of the other downhill routes.

Once there it is a case of choosing which of the many paths to take. A favourite of mine is the one that passes underneath the cliffs. This is popular with the rock climbing fraternity. Significant sections of the Bank have tree cover, mainly Birch & Oak, some Pussy Willow & Holly though there is a patch of Pine & Larch immediately below Salisbury Ave. Some of the steeper slopes & driest sections support Ling heather & Broom though not bilberry. Yellow plants predominate the upper reaches during the summer months, Catsear being the commonest of those. Other members of the dandelion family present include Smooth Hawksbeard, Lesser Hawkbit & Hawkweed sp.

The Bank supports a goodly variety of butterflies many of which arrived as colonists within the last 25 years: Holly Blues c 1992, Comma 1995, Gatekeeper & Purple Hairstreaks* in 2002, Speckled Wood 2003 & Ringlet 2004.  Small Coppers are plentiful & can be often be seen nectaring on Ragwort, that is if the philistines have left it alone!  Wall Browns were present throughout the 80's & 90's but now seem to have vanished; there is still a small colony, however, in the Sconce Lane area. I have only encountered Common Blues on two occasions, but as its food plant is absent that is unsurprising. Green Hairstreaks can be found in low numbers on the moorland surrounding Baildon but they are not to be found on the Bank. Other species regularly seen = Orange Tip, Green-veined, Small & Large Whites, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Small & Large Skipper.

* As this butterfly is a canopy species it could well have been present before then. Opportunities for photographing them up close are virtually non existent the exceptions being in 2013 & 2019.

Birdlife incl's plenty of Chiff Chaffs & Willow Warblers in the spring but the only other warbler I have come across is the Blackcap. Jackdaws are present all year as are pigeons that bear a close resemblance to Rock Doves but I am reliably informed that all UK Rock Doves are coastal & then only in the far north west. I have had several Green Woodpeckers sightings over the years & its cousin the GSW can be found in the adjacent woodland together with all the typical woodland birds such as Jay, Treecreeper, Nuthatch & Goldcrest.   Red Kites & Buzzards for some reason never put in an appearance but I have had Sparrowhawk in my garden so they must be around.  I did spot a pair of Buzzards over Lucy Hall Drive this month so maybe things are changing?

There is no water on the Bank so unfortunately there are no ducks, waders or dragonflies.  

Though the Bank has been subject to periodic incidents of arson these do not appear to have caused any lasting damage to its grassy slopes unless of course they were the main reason why the Wall Brown disappeared?  The main usage is by dog walkers & the schoolkids making their way up & down to Sandals. Some of the higher paths during dry weather are slippy so care needs to be taken. The views are spectacular & from the Salisbury steps the tall buildings of Leeds can be seen.

John Gavaghan

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