Where have I been this Tuesday?
I made two visits, the first was to Weston on the outskirts of Otley and on the north bank of the River Wharfe. I stopped in Weston Lane to scan for birdlife. Small flocks of greylag geese were feeding in the nearby fields. I drove down a narrow country lane to visit the very ancient church of Weston. The church was closed however I had read about its notable internal features including a squire palour (a comfortable seating area which included a fire), very old bells which had been stolen and then returned and a three storey pulpit. Nearby is the sixteenth century manor house of Weston Hall home of the Vavasour family who are significant land owners in the area. After a short walk in the environs (views of Ilkley Moor, fields and a ha ha). I returned up the lane waving to Ronnie Duncan a Yorkshire business man turned art connoisseur who has great interest in stone and has built his own sculpture garden in the grounds of his cottage.
My return journey took me through Ilkley calling in at the Ben Rhydding gravel pits. It's such a long time since I last visited ! I was aware that it was now a local nature reserve managed by members of the Wharfedale Naturalist Society. On my visit the hawthorne was magnificent, butterflies were on the wing and there was an abundance of flora. Steve Parks who leads the conservation group was attending to reserve matters and it was nice to have an extended conversation (we had the shared experience of spending an evening in Low Wood in Riddlesden fending off the midges awaiting the appearance of badgers from the sett). There are marsh orchids on the site (flowering mid June). He was not expecting high numbers this year (about 80 spikes) due to the dryness of the ground.The rabbit population is another threat.
Wildlife seen included:
Birds- song thrush, three seen feeding, swifts, mallard on nests, moorhen and swans.
Butterflies- orange tip, green veined white (in abundance), small copper.
Flora - ground ivy, silverweed, crosswort, wild garlic, yellow pimpernel, aquilegia, fringe cups, yellow water lily, tutson, comfrey, green alkanet, water avens and many others.
On returning home I checked out on Bees last visit. This was in July 2013. How about including this site in a future programme? I understand from Steve that the garage which is being rebuilt will include a toilet and cafe.
It was planned for july this year