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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.




Friday 19th June, Boar’s Well Urban Wildlife Reserve

Today we had to tackle the "alien" species in this nature reserve (Himalayan Balsam and Japenese Knotweed) and maintain the paths through weeding and cutting back of trees and shrubs.

We split into two main groups, and I helped clear the Balsam from the pond, of which there was very little actually. There were a handful of points within the whole site where the Balsam was well established, however, and most of my day was spent uprooting the stuff. Its a pretty easy job, as the weed is very shallow rooting, and we soon amassed great piles of it. It will be interesting to return to see how well we have managed to limit its spread. It's certainly an annual job at this site though.

By the end of the day, the relatively large volunteer workforce had really made a difference here. The paths, overgrown at the start, were clear along the full length of the reserve, and hopefully the less noticeable changes where all the Balsam and Knotweed had been removed will be much appreciated by our native species.

Large Blue Butterfly

If you are interested to read more about the ecology and conservation management that has enabled the reintroduction of the large blue butterfly (which became extinct in Britain in the 70's) then follow this link to The Guardian article published on 16th June.

WFV, Moses Gate Country Park 16.06.09

Moses GateMoses GateAnother Tuesday, another fine day, and the return of Joan Dobson from holiday to lead a full minibus on a visit to Moses Gate Country Park near Bolton. The first plant of the day, and a first for BEES, was an en route tour of Bolton's recycling plant when our navigator got his radar wrong but that didn't delay our arrival by too many minutes.  A surprisingly well reclaimed industrial site of 750 acres is the habitat for much wildlife and includes the SSSI site of Nob End which produced a great variety of plants and birds.  We recorded four species of orchid (including early marsh which we didn't record last week) in a total of 112 flowering plants (not including the helleborines which were still only in bud) with perhaps the highlights being skullcap and blue-eyed grass.  The habitat was particularly good for warblers and four of these these contributed to a total of 33 birds including cuckoo and yellowhammer - good records as both are scarcer this year.  An accident on the motorway somewhat delayed our return but it was a happy minibus that returned to Bradford after a full and very pleasant day's outing.



WFV Otley Wetlands & Sun Lane Nature Reserve 09.06.09

Otley Wetlands, banded demoiselleOtley Wetlands, banded demoiselleWe spent the morning at Otley Wetlands, a private site extremely well managed by Wharfedale Nats, where Neville and his wife pointed out the special features of the site. We saw many different plants and birds together with evidence of otters, which are regularly about by very rarely seen, and an enormous amount of damselflies. In Joan's absence, Alice recorded a total of 73 flowering plants. The forecast rain fortunately did not materialise and we enjoyed a very pleasant afternoon having a guided tour of Sun Lane Nature Reserve, Burley-in-Wharfedale, also managed by Wharfedale Nats, with Anne. This reserve is also very well managed and has a very active support group - quite local and well worth a visit if you didn't make this trip. Because soil was imported from different sites when the old village tip was reclaimed, the reserve has a wide variety of different interesting plants. We added a few birds to our list and saw lots more damselflies! Total flower count here was 120 and the total bird count for the day 36. Marilyn Barber and Brian Ellis led this week's trip which was enjoyed by 16 members.
View more photos from the day in the wfv gallery

WFV, Scar Close National Nature Reserve, Chapel-le-Dale, 02.06.09

 green-veined white butterfly on lady's smock green-veined white butterfly on lady's smockA full minibus conveyed us to the foothills of Ingleborough on a glorious summer's day for today's outing organised very thoroughly as usual by Margaret Rees. Surprisingly, the landlady at the Hill Inn was not keen for us to park the minibus in her car park but after assuring her that we would definitely return to buy some drinks from her, Margaret convinced her to allow us access. The mixed environment of Scar Close which comprises limestone, acidic soil and some marshy areas provides habitats for a diverse range of plants. Exactly 90 species of flowering flowers and ferns were recorded, the highlights of which were baneberry, butterwort, lily of the valley, globe flower, lesser meadow rue, bird's eye primrose, creeping willow, marsh valerian, marsh lousewort and green spleenwort. The tree-sparse habitat does not encourage bird life and few species were recorded, but we were entertained throughout our stay by the delightful singing of willow warblers and skylarks. Butterflies were also thin on the ground with none of the current influx of painted ladies (which one member had seen on the summit of Ingleborough only a few days before) evident. We did spot green-veined whites and Sue took a lovely photo of one which hopefully she will add to this blog. After refreshing ourselves, true to our word, at the Hill Inn we proceeded back to Bradford on a circuitous route via the YWT reserve at Globe Flower Wood where the globe flowers were in full bloom and where we also recorded melancholy thistle and wood cranesbill. An optional toilet/ice cream stop was afforded in Malham (with more opting for ice cream rather than toilets - it was a hot day!) before we finally returned to Bradford after 6.00pm to conclude another very successful day. Stuart

Friday 29th May, Bingley St. Ives

A relatively straightforward day today, we were tasked with getting the two charcoal kilns filled and ready for firing sometime in the very near future.

A group of us set about sawing and chopping logs whilst another group layered up the kilns. The shady woodland and pleasant breeze helped keep us relatively cool on a gloriously sunny day, although we did break a sweat trying to split some very knotted pieces of wood!

It was a really satisfying day, and the following quote attributed to Albert Einstein sums up the task nicely:

"People love chopping wood. In this activity one immediately sees results."

Friday 22nd May, Brackenhill Primary School

This was my second visit to the school, the last time being in March. I was pleasantly surprised to see how well the willow had come on since our last visit, where we had cut and shaped it into a fence. Today we just had to finish off where we had left off, and get the willow sorted at the bottom end of the site. Some of the harvested willow branches were stripped of their bark in preparation for being made into charcoal in a couple of weeks time.

The woodland area was looking fantastic, and just needed a couple of very small trees removing where the Spring growth had made a little thinning out necessary. A couple of us also shipped in a few trailer loads of wood chippings to neaten up the path through the woodland, which had become quite muddy.

Others cleared the long grass from around the fruit trees in the orchard section, and mowed the rest of the grass in that area.

Overall the site is really well established, and it was good to be doing some "gentle" maintenance. Earlier in the Spring we started a new site at another school (Killinghall), and I am keen to see that evolve from a corner of a playing field as it was then to something like what we have at Brackenhill!