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WFV Washburn Valley, 9th May 2017

BluebellsBluebells

Today we explored a section of the Washburn Valley between Lindley Wood and Swinsty reservoirs. This is a sheltered area with some good tree cover. It is noted for its breeding bird population, encouragement being given by the provision of many nest boxes in situ. This morning was cold but the recent winds had subsided, definitely a woolly hat day. However, after lunch, sunshine appeared and it became much warmer encouraging the butterflies to take to the wing.

 We divided into three groups. One group of four concentrated on the botanical recording and did a shorter walk as far as the picturesque pack horse bridge and return. A party of seven completed the four mile walk of the circuit. This brought the added reward of scenic views across the valley from on high. A group of three went "off piste" and made several good bird sightings. It was a most enjoyable walk with the spring countryside at its best bursting forth with a variety of colour.

64 botanical species in flower were recorded by Alice. Specials included Wood Stitchwort, Yellow Archangel, Pignut, and Tormentil. 7 fern species were identified including Wood Horsetail. The walking group enjoyed a whole variety of flowers and flowering trees and shrubs. They included Wood Sorrel, Bugle, Thyme-leaved Speedwell, Bistort, flowering Bird Cherry and Apple, Bluebells, Stitchwort and Red Campion (a lovely sight), Primrose and the brillant yellow flowering Gorse.

  Bird song surrounded us on the walk. The birds seen included Greylag Geese, Lapwing, Great Crested Grebe, Tree Creeper, Pied flycatcher, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Swallow, Redstart and the raptors Buzzard and Red Kite. The bird total was a good 34. Last but not least a Mandarin duck was spotted on Lindley Wood Reservoir.

The butterflies emerged in the afternoon including Orange Tip, Green-veined White, Speckled Wood, Peacock and Comma.

 The bunch of regulars were joined by Steve a new member who gave the appearance of enjoying the day out. At least he has booked for Teesdale.

A great day out with thanks to Stuart and Maddy for their support.

See the photos here. 

Margaret

 

WFV, Leathley Lanes, nr Otley, 2nd May 2017

RedstartRedstart

Our party of 10 set off from the roadside in Leathley and headed off down the lane towards Riffa Wood. The day remained dry with plenty of sun but with a chilly north easterly throughout.

A total of 69 plants were seen in flower plus 4 ferns. These included Greater Stitchwort, which was abundant along our route, 7 varieties of Speedwell, Large Bittercress, Yellow Archangel and Wood Sorrel. When we reached the wood we were treated to a wonderful display of native bluebells.

The bird count was low with only 18 species seen and oddly no Red Kites? We were however delighted to see both male and female Redstarts, whilst passing a line of mature oaks, on an uphill stretch of the route across a large field. The male was showing well at the top of one of the oaks though I only managed a sighting of the female. Well done Maddie for spotting them and reporting back to the group so that we were able to approach the trees without disturbing them.

Lunch was taken on a sheltered slope, on the opposite side of a stream, which had to be crossed via stepping stones. Robert gallantly assisted several of the less steady members over the hazard.  If you want to see how this affected him; look at the gallery!  It was during this time that the weather warmed sufficiently for Orange Tips & Peacocks to take flight.  Prior to this we all had the opportunity to take excellent photos of a male Orange Tip which was found hunkering on a grass stem, waiting for warmer conditions.

A Greater Spotted Woodpecker was heard and then seen in Riffa Wood.

Well done Marilyn for selecting and leading the walk and to Robert our driver.

See the photos here. 

John Gavaghan 

WFV, North Cave Wetlands, 25 April, 2017

Reed WarblerReed Warbler

A sunny, but cold day, saw 9 of us set out for North Cave Wetlands.  Good time was made and on arrival a visit to the mobile catering van was eagerly anticipated by some.  The hide nearby afforded little shelter from a biting northerly wind but good views of a kestrel hovering nearby was our first sighting of the day.  Our group then moved off towards the East Hide, where there were excellent views of a variety of species notably avocets (a count of at least 26 was made), shelduck, shoveler, teal, redshank, oystercatcher, gadwall, a black swan, 2 greylag geese with 5 goslings and the welcome sight of a ruff.  Much debate took place around the identification of this bird but Stuart's scope proved invaluable here.

The Turret Hide provided a suitable spot for lunch.  Here Robert noted a heron being furiously chased by a black-headed gull, the heron eventually managing to shake off its pursuer.  Rabbits were seen on the far banking and coots were sitting tightly on their nests by the side of the lagoon.  

Walking along the pathway towards our next stop, Joan was excited to find field mouse-ear which she declared to be her find of the day.  Given that our botanists identified 53 species in flower as well as 2 ferns and that of those 53, 6 were different varieties of speedwell, the mouse-ear still came out on top.

Stunning views of 2 reed warbler at the next hide provided Sue with good photo opportunities.  Here we also saw a couple of ringed plover as well as a further ruff, or perhaps the same one from earlier!  The Crossland Hide gave us a chance to see a brief courtship display between 2 great crested grebe prior to mating (twice!).

Our walk back towards the minibus gave sightings of bullfinch, goldfinch and reed bunting with an excellent view of a little grebe bravely battling the waves on the final lagoon we passed.  Throughout the day we were also treated to acrobatic aerial displays by the numerous sand martins and swallows flying over the various lagoons.  Black-headed gulls were present in abundance along with herring gull and a lesser black-backed gull was also seen, giving a total of 46 species in all.

In spite of a poor forecast, the day only produced a few short showers but the wind remained strong throughout.  Still a thoroughly enjoyable outing ably directed by John, with thanks to Sue and Stuart for driving.  

See the photos here. 

Sally Tetlow

WFV, Temple Newsam, Skelton Lake, 11th April 2017

Coltsfoot Seed HeadColtsfoot Seed Head

There had been several cancellations  for a variety of reasons so there were only 9 on the minibus and the plan was to meet up with Margaret in her car at the car park closest to Temple Newsam House. However, there are many car parks at Temple Newsam and this caused some confusion. We had made it to Temple Newsam in good time but there was some delay in locating each other; at least the group could buy hot drinks and have a wander round the shop. 

With the group united, we took the path south out of Temple Newsam, where there was a lovely display of Few-flowered Leek and  a kestrel was seen in flight. After heading through the underpass under the M1 we crossed the road and turned right towards Skelton Lake. This is not the most picturesque or peaceful of reserves. It is a former open cast mine and it has a very urban and noisy feel to it eapecially with the close proximity of the M1. Maddy was particularly troubled by the traffic noise and chose to leave the group and explore quieter avenues. However, this area is still a work in progress being part of the Wyke Beck Valley Project and it is interesting to see how wildlife moves in and thrives when industry moves out. A bridge is being erected over the River Aire which will allow access from Rothwell Park and Woodlesford. 

The path took us alongside trees, hedgerows and a small stream before it took us to to Skelton Lake. Most of the birds were very distant but there were some good sightings including lapwing, wigeon, shelduck and a little egret seen flying over the river. We had lunch on a grassy bank overlooking the lake: the weather through the morning and lunch had been cool and blustery and the unseasonable high temperatures at the weekend were now a distant memory. As we continued on our 4 mile walk in the afternoon the sun came out for more extended periods bringing out a few butteflies, mostly male Orange Tip but also one Speckled Wood. 

One fern was recorded along with 44 plants in flower, the most notable being Cuckoo Flower, Few Flowered Leek and Spotted Medick which was a first for some of the group. 43 birds were seen including Nuthatch, Long-tailed Tits and Grey Heron. 

After regrouping in Temple Newsam courtyard we set off back at 3pm. 

Many thanks to Sally for leading and to Robert for co-leading, driving and lugging his telescope around the whole walk. 

See the photos here. 

Sue

WFV West Tanfield and Nosterfield Local Nature Reserve 4th April 2017

Yellow Star Of BethlehemYellow Star Of Bethlehem

A perfect day out. We visited two very special sites. The southern bank of the River Ure at West Tanfield and the Lower Ure Conservation Trust at Nosterfield. Following a cloudy start the weather brightened as we sped on our way to West Tanfield where we were greeted with blue skies and warm sunshine on arrival. We followed the riverside path along the banks of the Ure through sandy soils and woodland. Once we got our eye in we saw a great number of spikes of the rare Yellow Star of Bethlehem. I think everyone would be able to identify the flower if we visited again. As well as its pale yellow flower it had an upright spade like leaf. There were spring flowers around also shrubs in flower or fruit from Ground Ivy, Wood Anemone, White Deadnettle, Moschatel, Wood Stichwort to Sweet and Dog Violets, Butterbur and Wych Elm. Alice identified a total of 36 species in flower for the site. The spring migrants Chiffchaff and Blackcap were heard, a Swallow seen, a Tree Creeper was nest building. Nuthatch and Grey Wagtail were also spotted.

      On arrival at Nosterfield LNR some of us enjoyed lunch in the hide overlooking the Main Lake with the added comfort of sheepskin covered seats. Others sat on the grass outside. One of the characteristics of Nosterfield is the fluctuation in the water level from small ponds to huge sheets of water. On our visit the Main Lake was relatively small and surrounded by a vast area of grassland, prospective nesting ground for Lapwing and other waders. The bird list for the day was a phenomenal 50 bird species. There was a good variety of birds seen -Shoveler, Shelduck, Wigeon, Black-headed gulls, Redshank, Lapwing and Oystercatcher on the Main Lake. A kestrel hovered over the car park. A pair of Little Egrets were seen in the West Silt Lagoon and a pair of Great Crested Grebe were present on the East Silt Lagoon. A pair of Buzzards were seen circling the woodland. A Yellowhammer was seen on the fence by John.

 Simon Warwick who was involved in the foundation of the reserve in 1997 gave us an introduction following which the group took a stroll according to their own pace and inclination around the half circumference of the reserve. The spring flora was superb and of great interest to Alice who recorded 35 species in flower for Nosterfield including a special plant Yellow Figwort, not seen there for many years and new to Alice. There was a long bank including Sweet Violets, Dog Violets and hybrids. The Cowslips were showing their yellow heads. Spurge Laurel was seen at the woodland edge.

Before our departure around 4pm  we were treated to delicious cake provided by Sue in recognition of her birthday. We then sped along the road trailing Simon to take a look at the Stinking Hellebore and Green Hellebore growing on the banks above the road. This was an excellent day enjoyed by a party of 15. Thanks to Stuart for driving also Alice for co-leading.

See the photos here. 

  Margaret

WFV, Old Moor RSPB reserve, 21st March 2017

Male BullfinchMale Bullfinch

With snow showers in the forecast for the Pennine area, today’s foray to Old Moor RSPB reserve near Barnsley looked to be a propitious destination, and so it proved to be with fine sunny weather the order of the day. We got off to a disappointing start when Joan hit heavy traffic and couldn’t get to Bradford before the minibus left so it was not quite a full bus that arrived at Old Moor with high expectations as there had been sightings of quite a few interesting birds in recent days, including a very early swallow.

Although the weather was fine it was cold and quite windy but Old Moor is a very user-friendly reserve with lots of hides in which to shelter from the wind and we made good use of these throughout the day. We were told that water levels had been held at a higher level than usual because of restrictions on water being discharged into the river and this makes nesting difficult for the many black-headed gulls, resplendent in their breeding plumage, who voiced their disapproval throughout the day.

Many other species showed off their breeding plumage with especially fine views of snipe, shoveler, shelduck, gadwall, little grebe, pochard, wigeon, yellowhammer and bullfinch. The bird with which many people associate with Old Moor, the tree sparrow, did not disappoint and we were sorry not to hear the bittern which had been reported to be booming in recent days but nevertheless we recorded 42 species.

It was of course the day of the Spring equinox and trees were showing signs of life with leaves starting to appear on many of the shrubs and the blossom of blackthorn decorating the hedges. Flowering plants were few but included coltsfoot, cowslip and comfrey. Although it seemed too cold for any butterflies to make an appearance a brimstone was spotted but the day’s fine outing was rounded off with one very unusual sighting, that of Donald in the cafe, which goes to show that you can change the habits of a lifetime!

Thanks to John for his leadership and to Sue for her driving.

See the photos here. 

Stuart

WFV Yorkshire Sculpture Park 7th March

Culture And NatureCulture And Nature

Fourteen members enjoyed a day of sunshine and blue skies at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.  A few opted to concentrate on the sculptures and the galleries while most set off on a walk led by Sally and John. Some areas were out of bounds due to waterlogging. There was mud on paths near water features and we squelched in some grassy areas but no problems arose.

Buds were breaking on a variety of trees and flowers showing on Alder, Hazel and Wild Cherry while pollen fell in drifts from the male Yew catkins. The silhouettes of bare mature trees were magnificent.

Only white and yellow flowers were seen; fifteen species in total. The White Butterbur (Petasites albus) was the star of the show and a first sighting for most of the group. More common but equally welcome to see were Wood anemones, Barren strawberry, Golden Saxifrage, Celandines and the male flowers of Dog's mercury.

Of the fungi observed the most interesting were deemed to be Lumpy bracket and Willow bracket.   

We lunched watching herons flying to and from the impressive heronry. Water birds recorded were great crested grebe, shoveller and goosander as well as many tufted duck and mallard. After the break three of us continued walking by the lake and were rewarded by the appearance of goldcrests, a song thrush and long tailed tits. Previously we had enjoyed watching a nuthatch sifting through the leaf litter.  The bird total was twenty plus. 

The permanent exhibits with their diversity of form and materials provided animals ranging in simplicity from Amoebae (Prozoans) to rabbits as well as man (men). It was good to be among the first to visit the recently acquired exhibits by Tony Cragg.  A single grey squirrel was the only wild four legged animal seen.

Unsurprisingly the day concluded in the cafe where we re-met Margaret and Joan. They had opted for a less strenuous day and after short walks had used their energy working on programmes for the coming months. We also learned that Alan had joined the party but that there being two carparks had, again, caused confusion for car drivers.

Yet again Robert went beyond the call of duty by retrieving a walking pole left in the ladies cloakroom! The tired owner appreciated  conservation of  her energy.  Thanks Robert, for this and for our safe journeys and thanks to Sally and John who took over the leadership for the day.

Today nature and man-made features were side by side and both were appreciated.

See the photos here. 

Alice

 

Indoor Meeting 21st February 2017

13 people attended our Indoor Meeting today. We enjoyed digital image presentations given by Alice and John. Alice's presentation was entitled "A few more ticks" - a double meaning with reference to both the little arachnid that can become embedded in the skin and cause extreme health problems, also the flowers she had looked for in the Cambridge area on visits to her daughter and grandson. The flora was unfamiliar to ourselves and therefore of considerable interest. A very knowledgable presentation which we all enjoyed.

John took us to Lanzorote one of the Canary Islands. This volcanic island has a lunar landcape which is extremely arid and devoid of vegetation. However there were some interesting birds to spot. His second presentation was of the varied orchid species of the Chilterns including the Lady orchid, Military orchid and Fly orchid. Well done both of you.

Following feedback from Julia and some discussion we enjoyed a cup of tea and Brian's birthday cake. Our final item was a quiz enjoyed by fewer members 8 in total. However although the performance of both teams left the quiz master somewhat bemused, it was all good fun!

Margaret

Wildlife Field Visit, Swinsty Reservoir-Bird Safari, 14th Feb 2017

Velvet ShankVelvet Shank

Our annual visit to this neck of the woods almost didn't take place owing to the large number of cancellations due to ill health. Apart from myself only three other members were fit and well enough to attend; Sue, who did the driving, Marilyn and June. Several other regular attendees were either away on foreign jaunts or had other places to be. Maybe the fact it was Valentine's Day was a factor?

If it had been raining or very windy I don't think we would have gone ahead. Fortunately, however, the weather looked very promising and so off we went. Although there was a chill in the air, particularly along the reservoir, there was sunshine for most of the day which raised our spirits considerably.

I was designated the leader in Margaret's absence and was also tasked with writing this blog! Our route took us in a southerly direction from the car park (the one between Swinsty and Fewston) along the western shore. Very little was seen apart from a small flock of LTTit's and and some withered Pestle Puffballs.  Shortly after we had turned northwards Sue sat on a bench and declared it was now lunchtime. As it was noon there were no objections and the entire group fitted comfortaby beside her.  Sue had very kindly baked a wonderful lemon drizzle cake (enough for a full bus load!). Mind you by the day's end there wasn't too much left over. That did however entail eating cake at the start of the walk, at lunch and at the finish! No doubt Marilyn and June are spending Wednesday recovering from this surfeit!

After lunch we started to see quite a lot of bracket and crust fungi on fallen branches, logs and tree stumps. These included: Turkeytail, Lumpy and Smoky Brackets, Hairy Curtain Crust (Stereum hirsutum) and a group of blackened brackets that were too out of reach to ID. Also seen were Velvet Shank, Stump Puffball and on a coniferous log; Purplepore Bracket (Trichaptum abietinum).

Whilst I was wrestling with brambles etc, trying to get close and personal with the fungi, June and Sue went on ahead to look for a woodpecker they had heard drumming. After ten minutes or so I rejoined them and we all stood together searching for the elusive bird. Although it never did show up we were delighted to observe Blue and Great Tits, Nuthatches, Treecreeper, Wren, a male Bullfinch, a couple of Siskin and the stars of the show a pair of Brambling!  Other birds seen during the day were Red Kite, Heron, Great Crested Grebe, Geese and Mallards. Buzzard and Curlews were heard but not seen. The only plants in flower were some low growing white petalled nodding flowers but without our botanists what could we do? (Only joking!)

We left the site at 15:10 and were back at Culture Fusion before 16:30. All agreed it had been a splendid day and we had also enjoyed putting the world to rights!. Hopefully our absent colleagues will all soon be back with us.

Thank you Sue for driving the bus and for baking the cake.

See the photos here. 

John Gavaghan

WFV, St Ives Estate, Bingley 7th February, 2017

Looking At The Plaque Under Lady Blanytre's RockLooking At The Plaque Under Lady Blanytre's Rock

A fine morning saw a group of 7 of us arrive at St Ives to meet up with Sue, Alan and Marje, who had arrived by car.  Unfortunately Joan, our leader for the day, had been taken ill and so it fell to myself to lead our group around the varied habitats of the estate.  Our start was delayed slightly as we waited for Lorna to arrive but a decision was eventually made to set off and trust we would meet her later, which I am delighted to say we did.  However whilst waiting, we did hear our first bird of the day - a woodpecker drumming in the trees just below the car park.

We headed first for Baxter's Pond.  On our way John identified the first of our fungus sightings for the day - smoky bracket.  It proved, as the day unfolded, to be a very productive site as a whole for fungi as we identified also ganoderma, pestle puffball, candle snuff, turkey tail, jelly ear, birch polypore and hairy curtain crust as we progressed on our walk.

After Baxter's Pond we headed for Coppice Pond where we saw coot, mute swan, female goosander, black headed gulls and numerous mallard.  Further along the path we stopped at the bird hide where there were good sightings of treecreeper, nuthatch, dunnock, robin, blue and great tits, blackbird, wood pigeon and some very acrobatic squirrels rifling the bird feeders!  Hunger got the better of us at this point and we doubled back to the picnic tables where we lunched in the sunshine.

Our walk then took us past Coppice Pond and up towards Lady Blantyre's statue, which sadly seems to have been removed from her usual look-out.  We continued up the slope, past the golf course, where Robert spotted a song thrush, to the top of Altar Lane.  Here we stopped to admire the view across the valley.  A gentle stroll then took us back down to the car park via Blind Lane, where Robert caught sight of a kestrel sitting high on a tree top.

Flower sightings consisted of snowdrops and hazel catkins but Alice was particularly impressed with the quantity and variety of lichens and mosses she encountered as we went round.  A lovely day enjoyed by all.  Thanks to Robert for driving. See photos here.  

Sally Tetlow