St. Ives Estate Bingley 6th October 2020
While the striders were striding Donald led Margaret, Lorna, Vera and myself on a stroll in the St. Ives estate. From the lower car park we headed to the south of the estate passing through Cuckoo Nest Wood to the original water garden area then climbing up through the wood, accessing the estate buildings and returning to the car park. The leaf canopy, still mostly intact, protected us from the main shower of the day. Most of the paths were remarkably dry. Autumn colour was minimal provided only by thin carpets beneath beech trees and yellowing of some Horse Chestnut leaves. Unfortunately, as elsewhere, this species is suffering from disease.
A lot of clearing has taken place to remove diseased trees and to reduce the invasive Rhododendrons. There are some fine deciduous trees although sadly a massive beech had been felled. With plenty of acorns on the ground and others still falling we decided it was a good acorn year. Although we saw many Yews none had arils - were they all male?
The original water gardens and the fish pond which supplied the house are now an overgrown swampy area in complete contrast to the nearby, smaller and recently cleaned Baxter's pond. Here a variety of liverworts were found on the stone surrounds. Mosses abound all over the wood. Where light penetrated twenty- three plant species continued to flower. A large patch of hybrid Pink Campion with its upright fruit teeth and a good show of Meadow Buttercup in a grazed field were worth noting. We were surprised to see some Rhododendron flowers. Walls provided Wall Rue and Maidenhair Spleenwort to boost our fern count to six. Of the three sedges, Remote sedge was the most common.
Fungi we recognised were Earthballs and Puffballs, Sulphur Tuft, Turkeytail and Coral Spot. We also saw some brackets, some mini fungi and some whitewash species. On leaving, between the car park and the estate gates a mass of Honey fungus gave me my best photo of the day.
Surprisingly only one squirrel was seen. A blackbird, a robin and a wood pigeon were the only birds seen although a buzzard was heard.
Donald's local history knowledge added interest to a most enjoyable walk and the choice of route was not only ideal for the weather conditions but also a new part of the estate for all except Lorna. Thank you Donald, we always learn more than just natural history when you lead!