Ripley Castle Grounds, February 2nd, 2010

Submitted by Wildlife Field… on Tue, 2nd Feb 2010, 4:34pm

AconitesAconitesOnly 8 people were on the minibus for today's trip to Ripley Castle grounds, where we met up with 4 ladies who had travelled by car. When we arrived in Ripley, it was very cold, grey and raining and some people had to be virtually prised out of the minibus. After paying our entrance fees, we set off on the walk around the lake. The groups enthusiasm did grow as we got moving, and there was more to see than we had anticipated. We saw a lot of snowdrops and also a small patch of aconites over the old Ice House. Unfortunately visibility was not good, but the views would be splendid in better weather. Light but steady rain continued throughout much of the morning, and turned sleety for a short time. There were some very interesting,ancient trees including the self-perpetuating beech tree (see the gallery). Some of the oak trees are a thousand years old and are very knarled. On the far side of the lake the path skirted the deer park, where numerous fallow deer could be seen.We probably saw about 10 species of fungi incuding stereum hirsutum, turkeytail and jelly ear. Several species were sited on a single large tree stump which was quite spectacular. On completing the path right round the lake, we stopped for lunch. The clever ones ate in the hothouses. The others didn't discover the hothouses until after they'd eaten. After lunch, we explored the hothouses,walled garden and kitchen garden by which time it was snowing.Only 18 birds were recorded, the highlight being a greater spotted woodpecker on a nut feeder in the kitchen garden.Most people headed for a hot drink in the tearoom before heading back.It had been a good day but bitterly cold and we were all keen to get home and get warm.  


Friday 29th January 2010, Brackenhill Urban Landscape Area

Submitted by joe_peate on Mon, 1st Feb 2010, 10:08am
After two weeks of working at the YMCA designing and building a tool storage area, this week we were back out in the field. Continuing our work from late last year we carried on with the hedge laying on the boundary of the landscape area.

There was quite a sizeable group again this week, and we managed to lay a substantial length of the boundary. A smaller group was tasked with litter picking, and did a great job clearing some substantial items from the site.

It was good to get more practice cutting the pleachers (see my last blog entry for a description of hedge laying), and I feel that I am beginning to get more of a feel for it. Another day at the site is planned for next week, and if this week is anything to go by then we should be in a good position to complete the job.

Boar's Well, 22nd Jan 10

Submitted by julia on Mon, 25th Jan 2010, 9:10am
A couple of things to note on a very wet day. There was a sparrowhawk hunting and flew off with a blackbird (we think). We had a look at the patches where we sowed the yellow rattle, Rhinanthus minor, seed in September. We would expect the seeds to germinate in spring, so weren't really sure whether we would see anything. This link has more information about the plant and a photo of the seed leaves.

WFV Tuesday 19th January 2010 BeesNew Year Social Bradford YMCA

Submitted by Wildlife Field… on Tue, 19th Jan 2010, 9:10pm
20 Bees members gathered for the New Year social, a welcome break from the confinement imposed by the severe the winter weather of 2010. The spread was magnificent but seemed to disappear in a flash. One of our founder members Dorothy Jones  was able to be with us. Dorothy went onto be a very worthy joint winner of Alice's cryptic quiz. Margaret presented the review of 2009 together with a new version of the Bees Diary 2009 based on the Bees blog.There was agreement that it had been a successful year with 26 outings, we visited a variety of habitats and sites, also a new minibus had been made available to the group and the Bees blog had been established.Thankyou cards were presented to Joan and the two drivers. Joan outlined sites for possible visits in 2010 and welcomed suggestions from the group. Concerns were raised by some members that due to the popularity of Bees activities it was not possible to join the group in the mini bus. Various suggestions were made but no firm changes agreed. The meeting concluded with two quizes and the group departed around 3 30pm. Margaret

WFV Xmas Event 8th Dec 2009

Submitted by Wildlife Field… on Fri, 11th Dec 2009, 12:00pm

Our Xmas event started at 10 am at the YMCA. Sue showed us some of the superb photos of wild life and scenery she had taken since becoming involved with Bees, a real credit to her and the group.There were insects , butterflies and dragonflies , reptiles lizards and newts, flora , birds to enjoy as well as reminders of the superb scenery and good weather we had experienced on our outings.

Sue's "piece de resistance"which we all admired was her slide show to musical accompaniment - a truly professional presentation.

30 of us then departed in the direction of Queensbury for a festive meal.


WFV Bees Slide Show YMCA 24th November 2009

Submitted by Wildlife Field… on Fri, 11th Dec 2009, 11:42am

We gathered at the YMCA for two superb slide shows. Stuart showed us the slides of the antipodean journey he and Gillian had completed in Feb 2009 visiting Hong Kong , Australia- Sydney and Melbourne then New Zealand both North and South Island and a final call at Singapore on the return journey. For some it was a reminder of destinations visited, for others it was an opportunity to enjoy  their holiday.

Annie showed us slides of the spectacular and colourful people and scenery of Vietnam . There is more to come we have been told, watch this space!


Friday 4th December 2009, Brackenhill Urban Landscape Area

Submitted by joe_peate on Mon, 7th Dec 2009, 9:58am
We worked on a line of hawthorn hedge at the outer limit of the landscape area, continuing on from where a previous visit had started laying the hedge. Traditionally this type of hedge laying is used to create a dense barrier to keep animal stock in its fields. A side benefit of creating such a structure is that it creates an ideal habitat for wildlife, and this was the reason for our work here.

Nick demonstrated the technique required to cut a "pleacher", a sort of hinge cut out (using a billhook) from the bottom of the plant enabling it to be bent over and staked. Before having a go ourselves, we cleared all of the small branches from each plant, up to about 5 feet high, which would allow the plant to be bent over without snagging, and we removed dead leaves and twigs from the ground around each "trunk" so that we could get to the plant where we needed to make the cut. Access was quite awkward, with the hedge being found at the bottom of a slope and fenced in, so I found some of the cutting quite difficult. It was, however, very satisfying and I think I started to get the technique after a couple of hours. I could still spend days (if not weeks) trying to get it spot on though!

A small group used some of the trees on the site to make stakes for the hedge, but I think that most of us had a good go at making the pleachers. We managed to lay a surprising length of hedge, and it will be great to see how the plants will look in a year or so. There's still at least a couple more days before the rest of the hedge is done.

After all of the sawing and cutting of hawthorn in a tight space at the bottom of a slope I got home with slightly bruised knuckles and scratched hands, as if I'd been in a bare knuckle fight. All in a day's work!

Friday 27th November, Rodley Nature Reserve

Submitted by joe_peate on Tue, 1st Dec 2009, 3:15pm
We were tasked with coppicing a relatively small but overgrown area of willow at the Rodley Nature Reserve. After a period of clearing bracken and nettles to expose the ground, we worked methodically to fell the short trees and process the timber for future charcoal production. The tree stumps that remained were further cut to elminiate the risk of rainwater collecting and rotting the tree, thus helping to ensure future regrowth in this sustainable crop. The coppicing also encourages growth of plants and wildlife that would otherwise be absent.
It was great to be able to learn the new skills involved in tree felling, and continuing this fairly ancient process of woodland management, albeit on a small scale. 

Potteric Carr, YWT reserve, 10th November, 2009

Submitted by Wildlife Field… on Tue, 10th Nov 2009, 7:05pm

BitternBitternStuart and Joan led today's trip to Potteric Carr nature reserve, attended by 17 participants. On arrival, maps of the site were obtained from the visitor centre and distributed amongst the group. Two general camps were then formed - the Birdwatchers and the Fungal Foragers. What a choice! I fell in with the Birdwatchers, eager to see a bittern. The birdwatchers headed to the hides overlooking Decoy Marsh, where we saw teal and shovelers, and we were then afforded good views of two snipe foraging on the edge of an island. We continued on, passing a reedbed, where we heard the distinctive call of a Cetti's warbler. Three of us waited patiently for a sighting of this elusive little bird, but to no avail, and we headed on towards the visitor centre. Our leader had told us it was impossible to get lost here, but we managed the impossible quite easily, and took several wrong turnings. Anyway, it was worth it as we sighted a redwing and we saw some unusual fungi along the way.Arrival at the visitor centre heralded lunch - some had hot food in the cafe, with Shepherds pie being a firm favourite. Others had packed lunches in the hide, where we observed several birds on and around the feeders including reed bunting and jay. After lunch we proceeded to the Piper Marsh hide. We didn't have to wait very long, before a bittern emerged from the reeds on the edge of the island, stalking through the reeds but sometimes coming right out into the open, enabling us to get really good views. This was the highlight of our birding day, which saw us record 43 species.

The Fungal Foragers had intended to explore a certain part of the reserve which was thought to be particularly good for fungi, but they never arrived there as there was so much to see alongside all the paths. Right outside the visitor centre, a destroying angel was seen. Then there were the alien-like earth stars and the golden spindles, and so it continued.... Particular highlights were the panther cap, amanita pantherina and the caterpillar fungus, cordyceps militaris, which parasitises insects.32 flowering plants and ferns were recorded. 

It was a cold and dull day, but it had stayed dry and both the Bird Watchers and the Fungal Foragers returned home with smiles on their faces, even though we had only explored a fraction of this wonderful nature reserve. 



WFV Hardcastle Crags 27.10.09

Submitted by Wildlife Field… on Tue, 27th Oct 2009, 10:10pm

Spot Fungus?Spot Fungus?Pennine mist greeted the 15 members of our group today when we arrived at Hardcastle Crags to enjoy a mild autumnal fungi foray in millstone grit country.  The mist evaporated as the day progressed and we had fine cloudy weather for our visit.  The identification of the variety of fungi and ferns distracted us to the extent that it took two hours to meander the 1.5 miles to Gibson Mill, the National Trust's flagship sustainable property, where we enjoyed our lunch and a look round the mill.  An almost equally slow return to the minibus completed our day during which we recorded 35 species of fungi, 11 ferns and not a great number of birds.  Number 1 in the fungi hit parade was Grisette (Amarita vaginata) which was followed in second place for most of the day by Jelly Babies (Leotica lubrica) but this species was relegated to number 3 late in the day by White Saddle (Helvella crispa) - a first sighting for Joan, in itself a remarkable occurrance!  The diversity of habitat - oak/beech/pine - was matched by the diversity in the knowledge of the members of our group as the experts discussed the finer points of identification whilst the novices tried to get to grips with the difference between the various species of fern. It wasn't a good day for the birders, but we did manage to record nuthatch, goldcrest, dipper and redwing in our total during another enjoyable day which was very ably led by Joan, Veronica and Eric.