We 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!)
This 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
Joan Dobson and Sue Zajaczkowska led this week's superbly organised outing to Nidderdale which a record number of 22 members enjoyed. Again we seemed to be lucky with the weather as we headed East, away from the Pennine cloud and rain.
The large attendance meant that we needed to take two minibuses - a first for the group. Some older members did find entry into and egress from the new minibus somewhat vertiginously challenging but this did not seem to spoil their day.
At Cattal we recorded 24 plants in flower, the stars being wild tulips (which unfortunately had mostly gone over*) and early purple orchids. The highlight for the birders was the group's first sighting this year of swifts as ten or a dozen streezhed** their way around the site.
Staveley produced another first -the group's first recording of rats feeding underneath the bird feeders - very healthy they looked, too! 52 plants were in flower and reed buntings and sedge warblers, amongst many others, sang to us and their intended. Sue was disappointed that some birds which she had seen on her recce the day before did not show, but not all species take kindly to having their space invaded by 22 bodies!
Total bird sightings for the day was 41.
* Gone over - botanical name for 'died'
** Streezhing - Tordoff name for the call of swifts from the superbly onomatopoeic Russian name for a swift - Streezh
Brian Ellis and Stuart Tordoff led this week's walk which was local for a change and covered a strenuous circular 5 miles from Shelf via Norwood Green. Starting at the car park at Bridle Stile we set off down the Calderdale Way to Sun Wood to admire the bluebells. We then headed back through Shelf Woods to Woodside and lunched in Royds Hall Great Wood which overlooks Jagger Park Wood. The way was then to Horse Close Bridge (aka Judy Bridge) and Low Wood before climbing to Norwood Green and a short stop at the Wayfarers seats before we returned to Shelf past Ox Heys and North Wood down the 108 steps and past Dean House.
In the absence of Donald, our chief recorder, the bird count was low this week and we struggled to get to 30 species but Joan recorded 65 plants and ferns in flower and we did learn something of the history and the geology of the area.
The forecast rain did not arrive until we had finished our walk which was undertaken by 14 members this week who all seemed to enjoy the day.
Well, it was a more relaxed (i.e. less physical) day this week at a small woodland near Bingley St. Ives. We were working for an initiative called Forest of Bradford, helping to confirm whether or not the site is an ancient woodland. Its status as an ancient woodland was to be tested by carrying out a survey of the species of plants found on the woodland floor.
After a short stroll around the place to become aquainted with some of the plants which are markers for these ancient woodland sites, we were split into small teams and given a map of the site along with a list of plant species to look for. The list included holly, wild garlic, wood sorrel, golden saxifrage, wood sage, bluebell, wood aven, wood anemone and others (to be honest, I would have listed them all here but these are the ones I can remember - there weren't that many more!). Some were easier to identify than others, especially as not all the flowering plants were in flower.
By the end of the day we had compiled and mapped out a comprehensive list, and I guess it's now up to the experts to ascertain the woodland's status. It looks promising though. It would be nice to get an update from Forest of Bradford at some point.
We were blessed with superb weather again this week when Margaret Rees led 18 members on a varied day out. We started at West Tanfield where yellow star of Bethlehem was found amongst many other species on the river bank as we listened to a blackcap singing away. We then decamped to Nosterfield for a brief visit to the superb bird hide where avocets were the star attraction. We were serenaded by another blackcap as we ate our lunch at the Tarmac site at Nosterfield before progressing to Marfield Wetlands, situated on the Middleham road out of Masham which was a new destination for the group. Here we had a plesant 3km walk round the site where Mute swans, greylag geese and great crested grebe were all seen sitting on nests. The day was rounded off with a short refreshment stop in Masham before we headed off back to Bradford. A total of 46 bird species was recorded as well as 134 plants, 70 of which were in flower.
I may miss something out, but here's an attempt at listing the tasks we managed to achieve:
- install colourful bird boxes
- clear/tidy woodland area
- weeding (a small entry, but a big task!)
- install insect homes
- clear pond area and bog garden
- move willow fence
We were rewarded by glorious sunshine in the afternoon, and, at the end of the day, left tired but satisfied (well, I did at least!) that the site looked better than it did when we arrived!