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WFV, Wycoller Country Park, 1/9/09

Bee on Water MintBee on Water MintToday's trip to Wycoller country park started on the outskirts of Colne, and was led by Joan. The weather forecast was not good, and we were prepared for rain. 13 walkers set off towards Wycoller passing ponds and streams and crossing fields, enjoying the extensive views of the lovely Lancashire countryside. It was blustery, but dry throughout the morning. We stopped for lunch in the pretty village of Wycoller. Unfortunately the village tea room was closed, so we sat and ate our packed lunches near the quaint little packhorse and clapper bridges, and the ruins of Wycoller Hall. We then spent a short time looking around the aisled barn, before continuing our walk. Unfortunately, the promised rain made its appearance. A light shower fell as we perused the willow creations in Wycoller, including an impressive sculpture of a horse and rider. We continued our walk along the road, with showers becoming more heavy and prolonged and accompanied by an occasional clap of thunder. Turning off the road, we continued our route across fields and through the hamlet of Winewall. A bull was grazing in one of the fields. He watched us closely, but fortunatley he didn't react badly to us, and we all breathed a sigh of relief as we safely negotiated his territory.

Approximately 125 plants were recorded including bogbean in flower, and sizeable areas of mimulus and water mint in flower. Stone walls were covered in lichens of numerous colours, including a foliose lichen.  

There were few birding highlights but we did see 4 snipe fly up from a pond as we passed by and disturbed them and we also watched a large flock of goldfinches feeding on thistle-down. 

We arrived back at the minibus having enjoyed another wet, but enjoyable walk. 



WFV, Ilkley Moor, 25.08.09

SundewSundewDue to shooting activity on the Devonshire Estate our planned visit to Hazelwood Moor to appreciate the heather moorland was replaced by a 5-mile walk over Ilkley Moor which had the same intention.  We parked at Cow & Calf rocks and 12 members (10 baht 'at) struck out across the moor.  Our leader, Donald Lightowler, pointed out the profusion of calluna vulgaris and pteridium aquilinum (heather and bracken) which was very evident, especially the former which was in full bloom and a lovely sight throughout our walk.  Being moorland, the variety of flora and fauna was limited but we did also note erica cinerea (bell heather), erica tetralix (cross-leaved heath), drosera rotundifolia (common sundew) together with a few butterflies (mainly painted lady) dragonflies and birds (mainly meadow pipits and swallows).  The main purpose of this walk was, however, to enjoy the heather moorland and the extensive views which Ilkley Moor offers and Donald not only succeeded in making the walk very enjoyable by pointing out all the interesting features of the moor and the views beyond but also with perfect timing ensured that the walk finished just before the rain came.

Despite recent rain which had made some parts of the walk very boggy everyone stayed dry apart from our chief photographer and fellow-blogger Sue who somehow managed to get herself ensnared by a bog up to her calf and so completed the walk with one soggy foot!

Another excellent day out - thanks Donald!


WFV, Rodley Nature Reserve, 11th August, 2009

Small CopperSmall CopperA group of nineteen journeyed by car, minibus or on foot for today's very local trip to Rodley Nature Reserve. The reserve, a wildlife oasis in the midst of urban Leeds is not normally open on Tuesdays, but volunteer wardens June Ackroyd and Graham Barlow opened it up especially for us and were our hosts for the day.

We didn't stay together as a group, but explored the reserve as we wished. Initially, the weather was very dull and there was a litttle drizzle, but it soon brightened up and it just got better and better as the day wore on, and we enjoyed beautiful sunshine through the afternoon. Bird activity was a little quiet, but we did see goldfinch, long-tailed tits and a kestrel, and a kingfisher was seen on the river. Other creatures seemed to be delighting in the sunshine. Several dragonflies were seen including brown hawkers and red darters. Many were ovipositing on the dragonfly ponds. At least eight species of butterflies were seen including a small copper in the wildflower meadow.A highlight of the day was at lunchtime. We were sat outside the visitor centre having lunch, enjoying hot drinks and bara brith kindly provided by our hospitable hosts, when some small mammals were seen darting across the nearby paths. One little weasel was seen climbing up the steps towards the butterfly bank where it then disappeared into the vegetation.After lunch, we were shown several common newts that had made a cosy little home beneath a metal dustbin.  

The drama of the day occurred down at the dipping pond.A woolly bear caterpillar was in trouble, stranded on a floating leaf. Amanda wielding a net, and aided by Joan's pole, managed to save the creature from certain death. Well done, Amanda!

120 plants were recorded including white, yellow and fringed water lilies, and there was an abundance of colourful purple loosestrife.

Another very enjoyable day out and so close to home!


WFV Brockadale 04.08.09

Common BlueCommon BlueThis week's trip saw us returning for a summer's visit to Brockadale, a Yorkshire Wildlife Trust reserve situated on Magnesian limestone by the river Went on the Southern boundary of North Yorkshire.  Joyce and Paul Simmons proved to be very knowledgable and interesting guides and made our day very interesting.  The forecast showers hardly materialised but the day was mainly overcast and breezy which could have limited the butterflies but in fact we were constantly surrounded by them and recorded 12 varieties (although we were unlucky in our search for marbled white) plus a number of moths collected by Paul. Veronica identified a variety of fungi but bird song was quite limited although we did hear an occasional yellowhammer and bullfinch and we did see linnets, goldfinches and a jay but little else. On the other hand flowers there were in abundance.  Unfortunately we were without both Donald and Joan this week due to unforeseen circumstances and so we had to pass on the grasses, ferns and trees and recorded a total of 130 plants in flower.  There were quite a few highlights including wild liquorice, small teasel, kidney vetch, black and white horehound, black and white bryony, rest-harrow, corn mint, fern grass and barberry.

This was an excellent day out with something for everyone and a happy minibus party returned in good time to Bradford.


WFV, Forest of Bowland, Chipping. 28/7/09

Blue Sow-ThistleBlue Sow-ThistleA full minibus headed out to the Forest of Bowland. When Alan turned up not wearing his wellies, it might have been an omen for better weather. Alas not! Shortly after arriving at our destination, the rain started and it continued with varying intensity for much of the day. It was also rather breezy.

Joan ably led today's walk which started in Chipping, a village adorned with flowers, aspiring to be crowned champion in the Britain in Bloom contest. Our route soon took us off the road and onto field paths. A variety of cattle and sheep eyed us cautiously as we invaded their territory. The views, including those of Longridge Fell and Pendle Hill were wonderful even though we weren't seeing them at their best. The planned walk was amended a little, so we didn't get up onto the moorland, but the 4.5 mile route was very pleasant. We passed little brooks and sighted a dipper flying low over the water. Curlews were heard calling, and then four were seen flying.Two of them came down in a distant field. Several goldfinch and a nuthatch were also spotted. In spite of the rain, we did see a number of green-veined white and meadow brown butterflies. 165  plants were recorded including marsh woundwort, blue sow thistle and bilberry. (Gillian enjoyed those bilberries....) On return to Chipping, we headed to the coffee shop for sustenance and warmth before journeying back to Bradford having enjoyed another lovely, albeit wet, day out.    



WFV, Kirkby Lonsdale 21/07/2009

Pheasant & chicksPheasant & chicksIt was raining when we set off from Bradford heading for Kirkby Lonsdale. En route, a buzzard was spotted flying overhead.Todays' walk should have been led by Margaret, but unfortunately she is still unwell.Stuart and Joan stepped in and worked out an amended walk, approximately 5 miles long. Rain was a feature for the best part of the day and could have stopped play, but BEES folk are a hardy group, and fortified by refreshments from the van on Devils Bridge we set off clad in waterproofs, brollies aloft and Alan wearing his wellies.
As we walked alongside the River Lune we saw several goosanders and two noisy oystercatchers flew low overhead. The more observant of the walkers were rewarded with a view of two kingfishers, shortly before we reached the fishermen’s hut, where we stopped to eat lunch. Shame it wasn’t open!
After lunch we headed inland passing through fields with black sheep and stopping briefly at the old church in Whittington. There was a beautiful mosaic picture of a knight at the church entrance. (See gallery).
We continued along a hedgerow lined lane which afforded a little more shelter. We nearly didn’t spot a pheasant with two chicks in a field where horses were grazing. A brief dry spell gave way to rain once more and we elected to return via the road. With waterproofs peeled off, we were wetter than we’d realised. An enjoyable day, but not quite what we’d hoped for. In spite of the weather, Joan managed to record 149 plants!


WFV Lathkilldale 14.07.09

Red hemp-nettleRed hemp-nettleThis season's extended day out was to Derbyshire and the limestone delights of Lathkilldale.  Brian's cousin Jo and her friend Peter proved to be very knowlegable guides and Jo's leaving her car at the finishing point of the walk to allow us to retrieve the minibus enabled us to do a linear walk from Monyash to Over Haddon which added much to our enjoyment of the day.  We had one or two light showers, but apart from that the rain held off until we were safely enconsed in the Lathkill Hotel for aperitifs prior to our evening meal (the local Whim Ale's Hartington Bitter was almost worth the trip in itself!).

Lathkilldale is a narrow steep-sided glacial melt-water valley and is part of the Derbyshire Dales National Nature Reserve.   An abundance of butterflies and moths flitted about all day long and we recorded 10 species.  The vast variety of flowers to identify and record ensured that the speed of the walk never got above crawling pace at most times with the total plant count eventually being confirmed at 176 which included 130 species in flower.  This week's highlights were Jacob's Ladder, Hoary Mullein, Red Hemp-Nettle and Nettle-Leafed Bellflower. In Sue's absence, Julia was chief photographer and she took some super shots of what Peter hopes will prove Joan's identification of the red hemp-nettle, which Peter advised us would be a first record for Lathkilldale.  Birds were not too numerous but dipper, spotted flycatcher and redstart were welcome sightings.

Another excellent day's outing was arranged by Joan, Brian and Margaret (who had to miss the trip as she is still unfortunately hors de combat - we all wish her a speedy recovery).




WFV Nosterfield Nature Reserve 07.07.09

bee orchidbee orchidA select group of eleven members enjoyed at day at Nosterfield Nature Reserve, near Masham, where we were met and shown round the site by Simon Warwick, director of Lower Ure Conservation Trust, and his wife Jill. Simon gave us a detailed background of the reserve and its geological formation which provides diverse habitats for plants and wildlife.  Well over 100 species of flowering plant were recorded including bee and common spotted orchid and the rare but uninspiring mudwort (a first for Joan, and we can't record that very often!)  The absence of bird recorder Donald Lightowler and the fact that many ducks were in eclipse resulted in our bird count being lower than we might have hoped for at 26.  We did however enjoy the avocets and black-tailed godwits whilst the songs of skylark, chiffchaff, linnet and greenfinch struggled to compete with the raucous black-headed gulls and oystercatchers - and we did get a super close-up view of a curlew which flew over a hedge into our path.  Butterflies and damselflies abounded incuding a super comma butterfly of which hopefully Sue will append a photo. (view the gallery)

The weather was again kind to us as we discovered when we returned to Bradford to signs of recent heavy rain - we had endured only a couple of light showers.  Another very enjoyable BEES Tuesday.



WFV Railway Terrace/Toad Holes Beck 30.06.09

Plume MothPlume MothThis week's trip was very local, to the Raw Nook area of Low Moor and to Oakenshaw to visit the Railway Terrace (formerly Raw Nook) Nature Reserve, Bradford's first urban nature reserve, and Toad Holes Beck Nature Reserve which has recently been renovated and which would be officially re-launched a few days after our visit.  Railway Terrace is an area of lowland heath reclaimed from land which had previously spent 150 years or so as railway sheds and sidings and which was officially opened last year after much effort to bring the reserve to fruition by former BEES leader Peter Boyd and local naturalist Martyn Priestley.  Toad Holes Beck nature reserve was formed from local industrial wasteland and includes three ponds which provide a variety of wildlife.

The BEES reputation for fine weather was lost on the weather gods in the morning as we explored Railway Terrace when the highlight was a kingfisher which flew straight between our party as we investigated the pond.  We made use of the facilities at Woodlands Cricket Club at lunchtime but by then the weather had relented and stayed fine for the rest of the day allowing us to explore Toad Holes Beck at our leisure.

The bird count was low, although we were serenaded for much of the day by birdsong, especially chiffchaff and blackcap, but there were a few dragonflies and lots of damselflies and butterfiles about, mainly ringlets and meadow browns.  Joan Dobson did a very careful plant count at both locations and by the end of the day had increased the site count to 125 for Railway Terrace and 128 for Toad Holes Beck.


An enjoyable day spent not far from home was enjoyed by 15 members.



WFV, Warton Crag, 23.06.09

High brown fritillaryHigh brown fritillaryEric Beety led this week's outing to Warton Crag, Silverdale, the first time that BEES had visited this site since 2001.  A full minibus duly arrived ready for the predicted heavy showers but the forecasters had overlooked the fact that it was a BEES' Tuesday and the further Northwest we travelled the better became the weather and we enjoyed a beautiful summer's day with extensive views South-West over Morecambe Bay to the newly-restored Art Deco Midland Hotel in Morecambe, with Blackpool Tower providing a backdrop, round to the Langdales and the more distant Lakeland fells to the North-West and Ingleborough to the East.

The Carbiniferous limestone habitat supports a multitude of plants and a total of 85 flowerings species was recorded by Alice who is doing a sterling recording job in the absence of both Joan and Margaret, both unfortunately hors de combat at the moment.  The habitat supports few birds and although we were serenaded by chiffchaff and willow warbler for most of the day, few others identified themselves.  Butterflies did flit around all day long with a vivid orange fritillary prominent, but they were very flighty and dificult to identify - our guide suggested High Brown, so we'll settle for that.  Sue will no doubt apend a few images of our sightings on the day.  A contented minibus party duly returned to Bradford after a full and fullfilling day.