The forecast for today was strong winds and frequent showers but Andrew and I decided to risk a walk. Although much colder than of late and with a very strong wind, the walk was mostly rain free; just "spits and spots" early on with only one proper shower towards the end of the walk which did not spoil the day. Having parked up close to the junction of Ilkley Road and Street Lane we walked uphill on Ilkley Road. A red kite flying overhead did not seem perturbed by the strength of the wind. I spotted something dart across the road; my "hare" antennae were on full alert but it was probably just a rabbit; we saw plenty of them later on. We turned right off the main road through some fields where a lapwing and single chcik were running around and beyond them in the same field was a solitary curlew.
My mission today was to visit two small reserves managed by the East Keswick Wildlife Trust namely East Keswick Marshes and Frank Shires Field both on magnesium limestone. I had considered a walk around Ox Close wood but with exceedingly high temperatures at midday I decided to leave a visit for a cooler day. The East Keswick Marshes is an area of marsh, wet pasture, old hedgerow and woodland. There are two ponds very much diminished in size due to prevailing drought conditions. I arrived early in the morning when the sun was shining and took the path through the reserve. There are two areas of wet meadow the one being recently fenced off for grazing from animals. The meadow has not been grazed for over twenty years.The meadows were carpeted with meadow buttercups, ragged robin, bistort, meadow sweet, forgetmenot and a full array of grasses. Lining the ponds were the leaves of marsh marigold, yellow flag iris. Hedgerows of hawthorn, elder, guelder rose and dog rose lined the path.
Even with all its restrictions, lockdown affords us opportunities. For me it has been the time to explore the network of footpaths that lie behind my house. To my eternal shame, in the 6 years I have lived here, I have never set foot on any of them and this has been my chance to rectify that. In under a minute from locking my house door, I am in open fields. These have been cut recently and I have been watching flocks of starlings and sparrows feasting on the fallen seeds. Crossing the fields, I come to Blackshaw Beck which marks the boundary between Calderdale and Bradford. As I approached the bridge one day I happened to look up and my attention was drawn to the tree that stands at this point - or should I say trees. Elm branches overhang the bridge but the top of the tree showed an ash in flower. Closer inspection revealed that the trunks of the trees had fused together making a striking feature.
BEN RHYDDING AGAIN. 26th MAY 2020
For my regular Tuesday outing I visited Spofforth's medieval castle and explored two sections of a disused railway line ( one section of the line is now a Sustrans cycling route between Spofforth and Wetherby). Some Bees people may recall completing a 5 mile walk in the area led by Marilyn in May 2007.
My intention was to look for any plants that could be growing in the crevasses and cracks of the castle walls.(both Fountains Abbey and Jervaux Abbey are noted for their wall loving plants). The castle or manor house is built of millstone grit which is the bed rock of the area. From the historical perpective Spofforth castle was the main seat of the Percy family, one of the most important and influential families in northern england until the 14th centuary. William de Percy a favourite of William the Conquerer built a manor house in the 11th century and it was reputedly here that the rebel barons drew up the Magna Carta in 1215.
This is less of a blog and more of a reported sighting and sharing of photos of a fox that visited my garden early this morning. The fox stayed for 20-30 minutes and got very comfortable and a second fox also put in a brief appearance. I especially like the photo with the red campion on the fox's nose!!
See photos here.
NATIONAL BEES DAY 20TH MAY 2020
On National Bees Day it seemed appropriate to visit a local SSSI. Unlike on some previous visits there, the weather was glorious.
The silence of lockdown was replaced by continuous birdsong. Butterflies seen were whites, orange tip and possibly a fritillary.
A mystery invertebrate awaits identification.
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.
Today I drove to Baildon, parking up near St James' Church and walked up through residential areas of Hoyle Court, Kirklands and Station Road spotting Long-tailed tits and hearing Blackcap along the way. A footpath between houses had a profusion of Green Alkanet and a smattering of bluebells. My route then took me close to the baildon Rugby club before emerging on to the moor. It was much breezier than I expected but fortunately it was not a cold wind especially as there was a little fine rain at times and I had not brought a waterproof.
My walk of around 2 miles on Tuesday took me to the Washburn Valley. I followed the path taken by the Bees group on the 9th May 2017 from Lindley Bridge to the Dob Park packhorse bridge over the River Washburn. It was again a cool but fine day. The valley is famed as a quiet breeding ground for birds. I was met with a cacophony of bird song but unfortunately sightings were rare. I could only identify the songs of great tit, curlew, wood pigeon and pheasant. However I did see a flock of sand martins darting from tree to tree overhead and observed their burrows in a sand bank on the riverside. The reservoir was an expanse of mud and grass in contrast to May 2017 when I had seen a mandarin duck swimming in the water.