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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.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jun/16/large-blue-butterfly

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.

Stuart

 

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
Stuart

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!

WFV, Rother Valley Country Park, 19th May, 2009

Great Crested Grebe on nestGreat Crested Grebe on nestWe were one person short of a full minibus for our visit to the Rother Valley Country Park led by Donald Lightowler. Closure of part of the M62 required that we take the scenic route to our destination. Our walk started along the River Rother where we observed grey wagtails feeding young. The vertical banks of this section of river betrayed its canalisation. The showers were interspersed with welcome, fleeting glimpses of sunshine. We were pleased to note the first damselfly sighting of 2009, possibly a common blue damselfly. After negotiating the path between the lagoon and the fishing lake we stopped for lunch despite the rain. The showers gave way to more persistent and increasingly heavy rain, and our resolve was fading. We headed back to the visitor centre and sought refuge in the café. Many of us were wet through and after leaving the café, the general consensus was to depart earlier than planned. 68 plants in flower were recorded. Our bird tally of 30 would no doubt have been higher if we had explored the woodland area as planned. A highlight for me was seeing a great-crested grebe on a nest.  

Sue (understudy to Stuart our regular, more eloquent blogger!)

 

WFV Upper Teesdale 12.05.09

Upper Teasdale, Spring GentianUpper Teasdale, Spring GentianThis season's extended day out took us to Upper Teesdale where a fine blustery (make that windy!) day allowed ample time to explore the areas of Moor House National Nature Reserve, which included Cow Green Reservoir and Cauldron Snout, and the High Force area.  The altitude (1500ft) meant that most plants were not inclined to put their heads too far above the ground and so some flower recognition was not easy. The wind and the altitude meant also that bird species were limited, but the botanists were especially thrilled with sightings of spring gentian, bird's eye primrose, mountain pansy and moonwort whilst the ornithologically inclined members were over the moon with sightings of a pair of ring ouzels and even more excited when the nest was observed with the female in residence.  The juniper area produced woodcock with young and a fly-past by goosander and RAF Hercules.  Total bird sightings was 36, which considering the altitude and the wind was very good, whilst 46 flowering plants and 7 ferns were recorded.

The day was rounded off with dinner at the Good Beer Guide listed Langdon Beck Hotel, where the Black Sheep was on good form before we returned to Bradford as the clock entered the last hour of an enjoyable day.

The full minibus trip was superbly organised once again by Joan Dobson and Eric Beety.

Please look in the wfv gallery for other photos of the day

Stuart

Boar's Well Wildlife, 1st May

While the sun shone this morning the site was full of activity. Loads of butterflies; orange tip, speckled wood, large white, peacock, small tortoiseshell (national populations were down by 70% last year so all sitings are important). The birds were evident as well with a black cap singing prominently near the middle pylon as well as whitethroat, long tailed tits and others. It wasn't all rosy though; the Japanese Knotweed seems much more vigorous than normal at this time of year. Of course it could be that we don't normally do management work this early in May, or that we have a had an early spring and it is purely bigger but not more vigorous. Here's hoping. But the Giant Hogweed at the UNR is big too - maybe it is something to with the cold winter. We will continue to work hard to control both of these species.