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Today was a lesson that you should be careful what you wish for. Margaret had experienced the full force of wet and windy weather when she had visited recently for the reccy, and as a result sightings were limited. I had really hoped for good weather so we could linger and admire the bog, and so the insects and lizards would be showing themselves. It turned out to be the hottest day of the year (without resorting to research, I would guess it was the hottest day we have experienced for years).
So, a day of little shade, and not really any breeze either. We had lunch as soon as we arrived, accompanied by the Morecambe Bay Tick Talk. Awareness of ticks is essential but shouldn’t put us off (read more here). There is a pond near the car park and this was our first stop. Here we saw the first of many Azure Damselflies and Black Darters, and also a single Emerald Damselfly. There was Marsh Cinqefoil in seed alongside the path, and Alder Buckthorn in berry. Marilyn opted to make the most of a bench in the shade and was rewarded with a snake (identified as an adder) swimming leisurely across the pond. The rest of us made our way to our rendez-vous with Simon, the reserve warden.
As we set off on our circular walk of the reserve, boardwalk all the way, Simon explained about the habitats at Foulshaw Moss, and pointed out some of the key species. It is an internationally rare lowland raised peatbog; the only water source is the rain – it is raised above the river levels. Since Cumbria Wildlife Trust bought the site in 1989 they have worked to remove the Forestry Commission conifer plantations and have blocked drainage in order to restore water levels.
Bog Myrtle was abundant, as was Cross-leaved Heath and Heather. Simon found some Bog Rosemary, now in seed. There was plenty of delicate clumps of White Beak-sedge, as well as Bottle Sedge in the deeper water. We made our way to a raised platform for our first attempt to see the Ospreys. With the help of the scopes we could pick out one bird on the nest and one in a neighbouring tree that has been used throughout the season as a perching place. We learnt that one of the two chicks had been flying since last week, and that today the second chick had been in the air. We had good views of one of them circling around the nest area. We stopped at a second viewing point for further Osprey views. There were Sundew flowers just opening in this area and we watched more Black Darters. It was notable during the day that they seemed to perch with their abdomen upright, a technique used on hot days to reduce the body area exposed to the sun.
Other wildlife also took evasive action and hid from the sun. It was too hot for the lizards to be basking! The birds were quiet and not many butterflies, though at our second site, Meathop Moss, we had three sightings of Large Heath. We also saw Bog Asphodel here, and Bilberry and Common Hemp-nettle.
Our third stop was an essential and undisputed refreshment break at The Derby Arms. Some of us had a brief, but very pleasing, visit to Latterbarrow. The abundance of flowers was lovely including masses of betony (including a white one), a few harebells and lots more, and perhaps a glimpse of high flying Silver-washed Fritillary. Another quick drink before the drive to Settle for fish and chips and home at a reasonable hour. Thanks a lot to Simon for his informative guidance.
See the photos here.
There was an eventful start to our day at Cromwell Bottom Nature Reserve. Alice was unfortunately taken ill at the Unitarian Church pick-up point and was kindly taken to see her doctor by Donald. Much to our relief a subsequent phone call to Sue informed us that she had been checked over and rest advised. A late start therefore ensued as we were welcomed to the reserve by our host for the day, Robin Dalton, of Calderdale Council. We were pleased to have a new member, Brenda, joining us for the first time and also delighted to hear that a keen botanist, Steve, would be with us for the morning.
Our first foray was round Tag Loop, a beautiful wild flower meadow. As the day was calm and reasonably mild, we had excellent views of a range of butterflies including speckled wood, ringlet, meadow brown, both small and large skipper, small tortoiseshell and a newly emerged gatekeeper. John pointed out shaded broad bar and straw dot moths to add to our list for the day and we were also introduced to alder tongue fungus by Steve - a new find I think for us all. It was especially pleasing to see sweet briar and grass vetchling on our way round. Our morning was completed with finds of broad-leaved helleborine and round-leaved wintergreen thanks to Steve and his extensive knowledge of the site.
After a picnic lunch at the centre, we were privileged to be taken round the North Loop, an area not usually open to the public, where Robin explained site management plans for the future. Following this we stopped off at Tag Loop ponds where common and creeping water plantain were seen as well as marsh marigold and mimulus. Damselflies, both azure and blue, were seen as well as dragonflies although identification of these was not definitive. On our return to the centre, we were then treated to an excellent view of a nuthatch searching for insects in a dead tree stump.
A thoroughly enjoyable day was had by all, for which we thank particularly Robin and Steve for showing us round, John for his organising and Sue for driving and so ably supporting Alice, along with Donald's help. A total of 18 birds were seen in all and flowers too numerous to mention!
See the photos here.
After various pick ups along the Aire Valley a full mini-bus headed towards the Forest of Bowland to visit the Bell Sykes Hay Meadows at Slaidburn. These are the most extensive traditional hay meadows in Lancashire.
We were met at the car park (toilet stop) by Sarah Robinson (Bowland Hay Time Project Officer) and Peter Blackwell the tenant farmer of Bell Sykes Farm. We were led along a narrow path through the meadows during which Sarah explained the history of haymaking, from the last Ice age to the present day and the variety of grasses in the meadow. Rough Hawkbit and Eyebright were the predominant wildflowers. Other plants included Common Spotted Orchid, Great Burnet and Tufted Vetch.
It was a pleasant day weather wise, dry with plenty of sunshine, though cool in the stiff north-westerly breeze when the sun went behind a cloud. I now appeared to have recovered from my illness that prevented me attending two of the last 3 outings.
Those at the back of the line were fortunate to spot a Kingfisher by the bridge, I was further along so missed it. A Curlew was seen attacking a Buzzard. Ringlets and Meadow Brown butterflies were on the wing as was a solitary Large Skipper. A patch of Melancholy Thistles just before the farm was the star plant.
Lunch was taken in a restored barn and our hosts kindly provided tea and coffees. We had a choice of hay bales or plastic seats, after which we then completed our 2 mile walk back to Slaidburn along the riverside path. There was little to interest the botanists on the return.
Our next stop was a ten minute (half hour!) visit to the churchyard near the reservoir. This was very good botanically; lots of Twayblades and Common Spotted Orchids. After that we made our way to Stocks Reservoir where we spent an hour, only going so far as the first bird-hide. Birds seen = Cormorants, Greylags, Canadas, Lapwing and Lesser Black-Backed Gulls.
A solitary Southern Marsh Orchid was found in a picnic area along with my first Small Skipper of the year and a Common Blue butterfly. Moths seen were Silver-ground Carpet and Straw Dot. Not a single dragon or damselfly to be seen! Probably too windy.
A total of 80+ plants were recorded by Joan and Alice.
Many thanks to our hosts and Julia for her driving.
See the photos here.
There was one spare seat on the minibus this week; John had pulled out due to illness. After a toilet stop at Stamford Bridge our first port of call was Wharram Percy, a deserted medieval village, where we spent 2 hours exploring. The weather was fair; dry but overcast and warm enough to entice out 4 species of butterfly throughout the day including Small Heath and Common Blue but we saw no dragonflies or damselflies by the pond at Wharram Percy.Common Spike Rush was seen by the pond. Other botanical highlights at Wharram Percy included Fodder Burnet and one spike of Agrimony. Inside the church masses of the non-flowering Liverwort Marchantia were observed. Outside the church it was lovely to see several House Martin nests under the eaves of the church, with parent birds coming and going with food for chicks who were expectantly poking their heads out of the nests.These were among only 12 birds recorded today. The only other bird of note was a Yellowhammer.
After having lunch at Wharram Percy we drove a short distance to Wharram Quarry where we were astonished at the abundance of orchids on display; mainly Common Spotted Orchids with a smattering of Bee Orchids, Pyramidal Orchids and Twayblade. Woolly Thistle, Carline Thistle, Restharrow, Thistle Broomrape and Tor Grass ( seen at both sites) were also recorded. 85 plants in flower were noted at Wharram Percy and 76 at the quarry.
As we drove back to Bradford the heavens opened; we had escaped a soaking. On a less auspicious note the windscreen of the minibus had developed a small but growing crack and was going to need replacing for the second time in a month.
Many thanks to Alice for leading this very enjoyable day out.
See the photos here.
Ten members and two visitors, Julia's parents, enjoyed a warm, dry day walking across fields and by the River Ribble on our circular route. Some found a few stiles somewhat challenging but with the much appreciated help coped admirably, and the cows we met were friendly! A bit more sunshine would have improved the butterfly count of six of which the most colourful were the Common Blue and the Large Skipper. Some interesting moths made their appearance : Silver Ground Carpet, White Ermine, and the Beautiful Golden Y which John had wished to be a more elusive species!
The section of river following the unseasonably powerful Stainforth Force provided sightings of Dipper, Grey Wagtail and Sandpiper. An Oystercatcher was heard and, earlier, a Green Woodpecker. At the Hoffman Lime Kiln lunch stop Ravens were both heard and seen. Unfortunately the peregrines we hoped to see at Staincliffe Scar were out for the day, but we watched a male Kestrel attending a nest (we think).
The plant record was high with over 180 angiosperms, of which over 90% were in flower . The Lime Kiln walls were a magnificent sight clothed in Hawkweeds amongst which it was odd to see Eyebrights, Wild Strawberry and the occasional Bee Orchid growing on the vertical surface. As well as Common Figwort we found Green Figwort, though neither was in flower. Bee Orchid numbers were lower than expected; Common Spotted Orchid was seen . Other less often recorded species were the crucifer Common Yellowcress, Fairy Foxglove and one spike of Agrimony. The Kiln provided an excellent habitat for ferns with Brittle Bladder and Male Fern growing in the entrance tunnels and Maidenhair Spleenwort and Wall Rue attached to the walls both here and in profusion on the drier outside wall. Eight fern species were seen. What a contrast all the greenery is to the pictures of the kiln in its working days.
Activity continued even in the car park at our Stainforth toilet stop. Joan, Margaret and Julia were making plans for the next programme, John was chasing moths and a tiny, fearless mouse, (or should that be a young and inexperienced one?) caught our attention as it nibbled daisy leaves within feet of the group. The distance became inches as cameras came to the fore.
Appropriately a Dung Roundhead fungus fruiting body was found in a cowpat!
Many thanks to Julia for not only her previous recce but for leading and driving today and grateful appreciation for going ahead at the end to relocate the mini-bus so shortening the final slog for the geriatrics in the party! Thanks to Robert too, not yet geriatric, for shepherding the party and for help at stiles.
We returned to Bradford tired, a bit later than usual, but having enjoyed the clear air and some treasures of our beautiful countryside.
John was the designated leader for this week's trip but he had to pull out due to illness. Joan took on the role as honorary leader. After using the facilities at Kippax Leisure Centre and meeting up with Margaret we made our way to Letchmire Pastures where Joan gave us some information about the reserve before we were let loose to explore this site. It was nice to have two new faces with us; one of them working on the BEES Shaping Spaces project. As with many nature reserves in the area, it is a former colliery, now managed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and consisting of wetland, grassland, meadow and young woodland.
Robert and I saw a kingfisher in flight. Several little egrets were seen and it was quite unexpected to see an egret and a grey heron standing side by side at the water's edge.There were good views of a thrush on a pylon and a reed bunting amongst the trees and poppies. However, the undoubted highlight was the sound and then sighting of a cuckoo at the very top of a tree. A total of 30 birds were recorded.
The weather was overcast but dry throughout the day; too cold for butterflies. A Blue-tailed damselfly and an unidentified dragonfly were spotted.
The botanists recorded about 120 plants (not all in flower). These included Grass Vetchling, Yellow-wort, and Common Cudweed. A fox which was spotted by Robert had unfortunately left fresh droppings very close to the only southern marsh orchid seen. Poppies in a field adjacent to the reserve gave a lovely splash of colour.
Robert very kindly took over my driving duty for the day as the "new" bus was out of action. On the way home we noted that only about a mile form the reserve it looked as though there had been some rain. We were very fortunate not to have got wet and we had a very enjoyable day out.
See the photos here.
Fourteen of us thoroughly enjoyed our extended day out visiting the North York Moors on a sunny June day. Our aim was to explore a site new to us, Chafer Wood, a mixed broadleaved woodland on limestone situated on the edge of the North York moors north of Thornton le Dale. Chafer Wood is a mixed woodland with some plantation trees that are being replaced by native species including Cherry, Oak, Guelder rose and Elder. The ground cover included Bluebells, Ramsons, Stitchwort, Goldilocks buttercup and Dame's violet. There are some patches of grassland with Salad Burnet, Tutsan, Quaking grass and Rock Rose. We enjoyed stunning views of the Vale of Pickering through gaps at the woodland edge. The most interesting flora was seen growing on the banks on the side of the road on our return to the minibus. Those plants were not shaded by the canopy and included Dog violet, Wild strawberry,Leopardsbane, False Oxlip and Sanicle. Over 100 species were recorded in flower on the day.
In the afternoon we drove into the surrounds of the Dalby Forest. We encountered some navigational problems but this led to an encounter with three top species at the woodland edge - the Greater Butterfly Orchid, Early Purple Orchid and Star of Bethlehem. A reduced party choose the option of a walk along the forest track to Ellerburn Bank. The sloping grassland is well managed for its prolific range of limestone flora. We were greeted at the gate by the sign "no joggers" as if! The grassland was covered with a vibrant yellow blanket of Birds-foot trefoil and Cowslips. Spikes of the rare species Fly Orchid were seen in good condition although not in the numbers on my previous visit dated 9.06.2012 with the Bradford Botany Group. Other orchids seen were Common Spotted Orchid (just emerging),Northern Marsh Orchid and Pyramidal Orchid. There was a debate as to whether the thistle leaves were of Welted or Woolly Thistle. I believe Woolley Thistle has been recorded for this site. The Ellerburn Bank group were kindly collected by Julia who drove the minibus down the forest track to the reserve. We were weary following a tiring day. Also a thank you to Robert for the assistance given to the "geriatrics"!
It was a good day for moths / butterflies. John recorded 6 species of butterfly and some new moths.
It was a relatively quiet day on the birding front, birds were heard rather than seen. Birds recorded included Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Yellowhammer and Jay. A giant Dryad's Saddle fungus was seen in Chafer Wood.
Our day out was nicely rounded with an excellent meal at the Black Bull in Escrick where Robert enjoyed Treacle tart and custard in a true Yorkshire style. It was late when we arrived back in Bradford, the roads were clear and there was still good light so it did not matter. Thanks go to Joan, Maddy, Sue and Julia for making this a splendid day out for the group.
See the photos here.
A magnificent day out with lots to do and see.
Leaders: Stuart & Joan
Attendees : 13
Habitats: Grimwith- grassland and woodland and rocky shoreline surrounding the large Yorkshire Water reservoir.
Trollers Ghyll - stream side leading to limestone outcrops and lead mining spoil heaps.
Weather- Grimwith cool and breezy; Trollers Ghyll warmer - fine but cloudy in the main throughout the day.
Number of species seen Total Birds = 34, Flowers Total Grimwith 69 & 6 ferns, Trollers Ghyll 75 & 4 ferns.
Significant species: Birds Grimwith: Ringed Plover(Stuart), Common Sandpiper, Curlew, Merlin, Oystercatcher, Reed Bunting, Spotted Flycatcher (botanists), Chaffinch. This area is an important breeding ground for these birds.
Trollers Ghyll:Grey Wagtail, Willow warbler, Jackdaw, Green Woodpecker, Wheatear and Buzzard ( Stuart).
Flowers: Grimwith Adder's Tongue Fern in good numbers, Round leaved Crowfoot, Bog Stichwort. Early spring flowers Cowslip, Bluebell and Bugle were seen in prime condition.
Troller's Ghyll: Large Bittercress, Early purple orchid, Tormentil, an assemblage of plants associated with a limestone rock garden - Bedstraws, Rock rose leaves not flowers, Salad Burnet, Bird's foot Trefoil, Blue moor grass, Quaking grass and Pignut. Spring sandwort ( Stuart again!) Mammals-Rabbit
Refreshments: Parcevall Hall tea rooms.
Thanks go to all for their contribution to this lovely day out. Great to see Donald back in the fold- he wasn't away for long!
See the photos here.
A sunny morning saw a complement of 12 set off for Airton, where we were joined by Alan who managed to locate us in spite of our parking in a location just behind Airton Mills. From here we commenced our walk along the river bank which provided plenty for the botanists amongst us to record, though a redpoll was seen by Stuart along this section. Initial progress was slow as expected with so much to see however joining the Pennine Way footpath provided more opportunity for the birders as we worked our way towards our lunch stop at Kirby Malham churchyard, where a goldcrest flitting amongst a yew tree provided interest whilst we ate our sandwiches.
After lunch we divided into 2 groups, the first group being led by Alice back towards Airton along the other side of the river. I led the other group of 6 on a walk over the fields above the church where we had wonderful views of Malham Cove. Curlews and oystercatchers were also spotted on route. Both groups amazingly finished respective walks at the same time and adjourned to the Town End tea rooms in Airton for refreshments.
In total the day provided 35 bird sightings, including a spotted flycatcher. 124 species of flower were recorded, 106 of which were in flower plus 7 ferns. Butterfly count produced green veined white, numerous orange tips and one peacock. Thanks to Alice for leading and Robert for driving.
See the photos here.
Marilyn and her husband Robert joined forces this week to lead a walk in Wetherby, After the minibus dropped off the group at Morrisons in Wetherby, Robert led the minibus to park up at the end of the planned walk. Having rejoined the group at Morrisons we were led along the High Street before we turned off through the Wilderness car park to reach the riverside path. It was here that we spotted a treecreeper. The group quickly became strung out with the botanists taking their time and delighting in the abundance of spring, over the day seeing almost twice as many plants in flower as on the previous trip. The final tally was 112 plants in flower and 4 ferns. Notable species on the riverside included Yellow Archangel, Wood Melick and Russian Comfrey. A kingfisher was seen on the river and a buzzard was seen overhead, being mobbed by a crow. 29 birds were seen in total.
The faster paced of the group had a very leisurely lunch stop as they waited for the botanists to join them. After lunch as we left the river path, there was no doubting that we were passing close to the water treatment works. Our route continued along a hedge-lined lane where Greater Stitchwort and Black Bryony were recorded. A yellowhammer was seen as we skirted the perimeter of a field where we also spotted a distant hare running around.
After crossing a road a Four Spotted Chaser was seen beside a pond; one of 5 dragonflies/damselflies seen. The dry, moderately warm conditions yielded a butterfly count of 5 including Brimstone, Orange Tip and Peacock. We turned off the road, passing Wetherby racecourse, continuing downhill to join the trackbed of the disused railway line which took us back to the bus via the underpass.
The variety of habitats on this walk had undoubtedly been a factor in providing rich botanical interest. The wild cherry blossom and apple blossom were particularly beautiful and it was very unusual to see 6 species of Speedwell in one outing.
Many thanks to Marilyn and Robert for leading this lovely walk. See the pictures here.