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WFV, Shipley Glen & Trench Meadows, 9th August, 2016

BetonyBetonyThe sudden local heavy showers of the day never reached Trench Meadows so we did not get the drenching of the past two visits to the area. There were two other differences from the norm today.

We made our own way to the assembly point at the school carpark on Coach Road. Some nostalgic comments were heard as, led by Vera, we walked up the path adjacent to the Glen Tramway and on to the moor. Unfortunately Bracken Hall Centre was closed but we wandered around the garden noting more plants in fruit than in flower. The centre's noticeboard was very informative about local wildlife events; perhaps BEES should be represented here. Retracing our steps our second difference was morning coffee at the cafe, rather than afternoon tea, before heading through the woodland to the meadow. Here Donald joined us making our total twelve.

Antler MothAntler MothListed as unimproved neutral grassland the meadow supports numerous plant species and rightly deserves its SSSI rating. The sloping terrain provides drier upper regions and lower wetter places. Seventy seven species were recorded in flower. Devilsbit Scabious was in abundance on the lower area, not quite fully open but none-the-less giving the meadow a blue tinge while Lesser Spearwort provided a yellow carpet in places. In the most boggy area we saw Meadowsweet, Marsh Willowherb, Brooklime, Water Mint and Water Cress. Elsewhere Betony, Marsh Ragwort, Tormentil and Trailing Tormentil, a large stand of Wild Angelica and a big patch of Harebells provided colour while a single spike of Marsh Arrow-grass added to the joys of the botanists today. Plenty of grasses,admittedly going over, some sedges and rushes and a single fern,Marsh Horsetail, added to our list. Truly we are lucky to have such a nationally rare habitat so close at hand. A short detour by some into the woodland confirmed that Common Cow-wheat is still present. The return along the riverbank revealed Arrowhead almost in flower and late flowering Celery Leaved Buttercup which had eluded us so far this year.

Birds were in short supply. A skein of Canada Geese flew overhead, a Goldfinch was heard and Robert -again- saw the electric blue flash of a Kingfisher.

Six butterflies favoured us including a co-operative Painted Lady who posed for all to photograph. Two well named Antler Moths were the most interesting of their kind.

A sit down and chat in well maintained Robert's Park ended the day mid afternoon. Thanks to Vera for arranging and leading our visit.

See the photos here. 

Alice

WFV, Southerscales, 26th July, 2016

Frog OrchidFrog OrchidRobert's car broke down on the way to the Unitarian church, leaving 13 participants on this week's trip and we were definitely unlucky with the weather. In complete contrast to last week, the hottest day of the year, this surely felt like it was one of the wettest. Shortly after getting out of the minibus, the heavens opened and we sought shelter like sheep by huddling close to the wall of the Old Hall Inn. We spotted a tray of freshly baked flapjack cooling by the open kitchen window but we remained strong in the face of temptation.

Ingleborough was shrouded in cloud as we ventured uphill to the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust nature reserve, Southerscales; an area of limestone pavement, limestone grassland and blanket bog. We didn't have constant rain, but when it fell it was heavy and prolonged and in exposed areas it was also very windy. The long grass also caused us to get very wet from the feet up. I must replace my hole-ridden walking boots!

The only bird of note today was a Wheatear. 

The botanists were delighted to find Frog Orchids that probably exceeded triple figures and many of them were in pristine condition. The wet limestone pavement was treacherous and only the intrepid ventured onto it and Julia was rewarded with a Spleenwort. Other botanical highlights at Southerscales included Small Scabious, Fragrant Orchid, Common Spotted Orchid and Twayblade. We skirted the edge of the limestone pavement and followed the path back down to the Old Hall Inn where we took shelter and enjoyed some refreshment. I'm surprised the staff didn't put newspaper down for some of us especially one individual who was not only wet and muddy but had also suffered a beetroot juice leakage from their rucksack! 

Having warmed up and filled up we then headed to Ribblehead Quarry. There we found a Marsh Orchid (unspecified), Marsh Helleborine and Twayblade. Melancholy Thistle was sighted with the assistance of binoculars. Across the two sites, 118 plants were seen including 11 ferns. A few butterflies were seen including Common Blue and Meadow Brown. 

Thanks to Julia for driving and to Joan for leading. 

See the photos here. 

Sue

WFV, Foulshaw Moss, 19 July 2016

Black DarterBlack DarterToday 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. 

Julia

 

WFV, Cromwell Bottom, Calderdale, 12 July, 2016

Common Blue DamselflyCommon Blue DamselflyThere 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. 

Sally Tetlow

WFV, Slaidburn and Stocks Reservoir, 5th July 2016

Leaving The FarmLeaving The FarmAfter 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.

Large SkipperLarge SkipperLunch 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. 

John Gavaghan 

WFV, Wharram Percy and Wharram Quarry, 28th June 2016

Abundance of OrchidsAbundance of OrchidsThere 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. 

Sue

 

WFV Langcliffe & Stainforth , 21st June 2016

Bee OrchidBee OrchidTen 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.

Alice

WFV, Letchmire Pastures, 14th June 2016

PoppiesPoppiesJohn 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. 

Sue

WFV, Ellerburn Bank and Chafer Wood, 7th June 2016

Tower, Chafer WoodTower, Chafer Wood

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. 

Margaret

 

 

 

 

 

 

WFV, Grimwith Reservoir &Trollers Ghyll, 31st May 2016

Adder's Tongue FernAdder's Tongue FernA 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. 

Margaret