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WFV, Slaidburn and Stocks Reservoir, 5th July 2016

Leaving The FarmLeaving The FarmAfter various pick ups along the Aire Valley a full mini-bus headed towards the Forest of Bowland to visit the Bell Sykes Hay Meadows at Slaidburn. These are the most extensive traditional hay meadows in Lancashire.

We were met at the car park (toilet stop) by Sarah Robinson (Bowland Hay Time Project Officer) and Peter Blackwell the tenant farmer of Bell Sykes Farm. We were led along a narrow path through the meadows during which Sarah explained the history of haymaking, from the last Ice age to the present day and the variety of grasses in the meadow. Rough Hawkbit and Eyebright were the predominant wildflowers. Other plants included Common Spotted Orchid, Great Burnet and Tufted Vetch.

It was a pleasant day weather wise, dry with plenty of sunshine, though cool in the stiff north-westerly breeze when the sun went behind a cloud. I now appeared to have recovered from my illness that prevented me attending two of the last 3 outings.

Those at the back of the line were fortunate to spot a Kingfisher by the bridge, I was further along so missed it. A Curlew was seen attacking a Buzzard. Ringlets and Meadow Brown butterflies were on the wing as was a solitary Large Skipper.  A patch of Melancholy Thistles just before the farm was the star plant.

Large SkipperLarge SkipperLunch was taken in a restored barn and our hosts kindly provided tea and coffees. We had a choice of hay bales or plastic seats, after which we then completed our 2 mile walk back to Slaidburn along the riverside path. There was little to interest the botanists on the return.

Our next stop was a ten minute (half hour!) visit to the churchyard near the reservoir. This was very good botanically; lots of Twayblades and Common Spotted Orchids. After that we made our way to Stocks Reservoir where we spent an hour, only going so far as the first bird-hide. Birds seen = Cormorants, Greylags, Canadas, Lapwing and Lesser Black-Backed Gulls.

A solitary Southern Marsh Orchid was found in a picnic area along with my first Small Skipper of the year and a Common Blue butterfly. Moths seen were Silver-ground Carpet and Straw Dot. Not a single dragon or damselfly to be seen! Probably too windy.

A total of 80+ plants were recorded by Joan and Alice.

Many thanks to our hosts and Julia for her driving. 

See the photos here. 

John Gavaghan 

WFV, Wharram Percy and Wharram Quarry, 28th June 2016

Abundance of OrchidsAbundance of OrchidsThere was one spare seat on the minibus this week; John had pulled out due to illness. After a toilet stop at Stamford Bridge our first port of call was Wharram Percy, a deserted medieval village, where we spent 2 hours exploring. The weather was fair; dry but overcast and warm enough to entice out 4 species of butterfly throughout the day including Small Heath and Common Blue but we saw no dragonflies or damselflies by the pond at Wharram Percy.Common Spike Rush was seen by the pond. Other botanical highlights at Wharram Percy included Fodder Burnet and one spike of Agrimony. Inside the church masses of the non-flowering Liverwort Marchantia were observed. Outside the church it was lovely to see several House Martin nests under the eaves of the church, with parent birds coming and going with food for chicks who were expectantly poking their heads out of the nests.These were among only 12 birds recorded today. The only other bird of note was a Yellowhammer. 

After having lunch at Wharram Percy we drove a short distance to Wharram Quarry where we were astonished at the abundance of orchids on display; mainly Common Spotted Orchids with a smattering of Bee Orchids, Pyramidal Orchids and Twayblade. Woolly Thistle, Carline Thistle, Restharrow, Thistle Broomrape and Tor Grass ( seen at both sites) were also recorded. 85 plants in flower were noted at Wharram Percy and 76 at the quarry. 

As we drove back to Bradford the heavens opened; we had escaped a soaking. On a less auspicious note the windscreen of the minibus had developed a small but growing crack and was going to need replacing for the second time in a month. 

Many thanks to Alice for leading this very enjoyable day out. 

See the photos here. 

Sue

 

WFV Langcliffe & Stainforth , 21st June 2016

Bee OrchidBee OrchidTen members and two visitors, Julia's parents, enjoyed a warm, dry day walking across fields and by the River Ribble on our circular route.  Some found a few stiles somewhat challenging but with the much appreciated help coped admirably, and the cows we met were friendly! A bit more sunshine would have improved the butterfly count of six of which the most colourful were the Common Blue and the Large Skipper.  Some interesting moths made their appearance : Silver Ground Carpet, White Ermine, and the Beautiful Golden Y which John had wished to be a more elusive species!

The section of river following the unseasonably powerful Stainforth Force provided sightings of Dipper, Grey Wagtail and Sandpiper. An Oystercatcher was heard and, earlier, a Green Woodpecker. At the Hoffman Lime Kiln lunch stop Ravens were both heard and seen. Unfortunately the peregrines we hoped to see at Staincliffe Scar were out for the day, but we watched a male Kestrel attending a nest (we think).                                            

The plant record was high with over 180 angiosperms, of which over  90%  were in flower . The Lime Kiln walls were a magnificent sight clothed in Hawkweeds amongst which it was odd to see Eyebrights, Wild Strawberry and the occasional Bee Orchid growing on the vertical surface. As well as Common Figwort we found Green Figwort, though neither was in flower. Bee Orchid numbers were lower than expected; Common Spotted Orchid was seen . Other less often recorded species were the crucifer Common Yellowcress, Fairy Foxglove  and one spike of Agrimony. The Kiln provided an excellent habitat for ferns with Brittle Bladder and Male Fern growing in the entrance tunnels and Maidenhair Spleenwort and Wall Rue attached to the walls both here and  in profusion on the drier outside wall. Eight fern species were seen. What a contrast all the greenery is to the pictures of the kiln in its working days.

Activity continued even in the car park at our Stainforth toilet stop.  Joan, Margaret and Julia were making plans for the next programme, John was chasing moths and a tiny, fearless mouse, (or should that be a young and inexperienced one?) caught our attention as it nibbled daisy leaves within feet of the group. The distance became inches as cameras came to the fore.

Appropriately a Dung Roundhead fungus fruiting body was found in a cowpat!

Many thanks to Julia for not only her previous recce but for leading and driving today and grateful appreciation for going ahead at the end to relocate the mini-bus so shortening the final slog for the geriatrics in the party! Thanks to Robert too, not yet geriatric, for shepherding the party and for help at stiles.

We returned to Bradford tired, a bit later than usual, but having enjoyed the clear air and some treasures of our beautiful countryside.

Alice

WFV, Letchmire Pastures, 14th June 2016

PoppiesPoppiesJohn was the designated leader for this week's trip but he had to pull out due to illness. Joan took on the role as honorary leader. After using the facilities at Kippax Leisure Centre and meeting up with Margaret we made our way to Letchmire Pastures where Joan gave us some information about the reserve before we were let loose to explore this site. It was nice to have two new faces with us; one of them working on the BEES Shaping Spaces project. As with many nature reserves in the area, it is a former colliery, now managed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and consisting of wetland, grassland, meadow and young woodland. 

Robert and I saw a kingfisher in flight. Several little egrets were seen and it was quite unexpected to see an egret and a grey heron standing side by side at the water's edge.There were good views of a thrush on a pylon and a reed bunting amongst the trees and poppies.  However, the undoubted highlight was the sound and then sighting of a cuckoo at the very top of a tree. A total of 30 birds were recorded. 

The weather was overcast but dry throughout the day; too cold for butterflies. A Blue-tailed damselfly and an unidentified dragonfly were spotted. 

The botanists recorded about 120 plants (not all in flower). These included Grass Vetchling, Yellow-wort, and Common Cudweed. A fox which was spotted by Robert had unfortunately left fresh droppings very close to the only southern marsh orchid seen. Poppies in a field adjacent to the reserve gave a lovely splash of colour. 

Robert very kindly took over my driving duty for the day as the "new" bus was out of action. On the way home we noted that only about a mile form the reserve it looked as though there had been some rain. We were very fortunate not to have got wet and we had a very enjoyable day out. 

See the photos here. 

Sue

WFV, Ellerburn Bank and Chafer Wood, 7th June 2016

Tower, Chafer WoodTower, Chafer Wood

Fourteen of us thoroughly enjoyed our extended day out visiting the North York Moors on a sunny June day. Our aim was to explore a site new to us, Chafer Wood, a mixed broadleaved woodland on limestone situated on the edge of the North York moors north of Thornton le Dale. Chafer Wood is a mixed woodland with some plantation trees that are being replaced by native species including Cherry, Oak, Guelder rose and Elder. The ground cover included Bluebells, Ramsons, Stitchwort, Goldilocks buttercup and Dame's violet. There are some patches of grassland with Salad Burnet, Tutsan, Quaking grass and Rock Rose. We enjoyed stunning views of the Vale of Pickering through gaps at the woodland edge. The most interesting flora was seen growing on the banks on the side of the road on our return to the minibus. Those plants were not shaded by the canopy and included Dog violet, Wild strawberry,Leopardsbane, False Oxlip and Sanicle. Over 100 species were recorded in flower on the day.

In the afternoon we drove into the surrounds of the Dalby Forest. We encountered some navigational problems but this led to an encounter with three top species at the woodland edge - the Greater Butterfly Orchid, Early Purple Orchid and Star of Bethlehem. A reduced party choose the option of a walk along the forest track to Ellerburn Bank. The sloping grassland is well managed for its prolific range of limestone flora. We were greeted at the gate by the sign "no joggers" as if! The grassland was covered with a vibrant yellow blanket of Birds-foot trefoil and Cowslips. Spikes of the rare species Fly Orchid were seen in good condition although not in the numbers on my previous visit dated 9.06.2012 with the Bradford Botany Group. Other orchids seen were Common Spotted Orchid (just emerging),Northern Marsh Orchid and Pyramidal Orchid. There was a debate as to whether the thistle leaves were of Welted or Woolly Thistle. I believe Woolley Thistle has been recorded for this site. The Ellerburn Bank group were kindly collected by Julia who drove the minibus down the forest track to the reserve. We were weary following a tiring day. Also a thank you to Robert for the assistance given to the "geriatrics"!

It was a good day for moths / butterflies. John recorded 6 species of butterfly and some new moths.

It was a relatively quiet day on the birding front, birds were heard rather than seen. Birds recorded included Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Yellowhammer and Jay. A giant Dryad's Saddle fungus was seen in Chafer Wood.

Our day out was nicely rounded with an excellent meal at the Black Bull in Escrick where Robert enjoyed Treacle tart and custard in a true Yorkshire style. It was late when we arrived back in Bradford, the roads were clear and there was still good light so it did not matter. Thanks go to Joan, Maddy, Sue and Julia for making this a splendid day out for the group.

See the photos here. 

Margaret

 

 

 

 

 

 

WFV, Grimwith Reservoir &Trollers Ghyll, 31st May 2016

Adder's Tongue FernAdder's Tongue FernA magnificent day out with lots to do and see.

Leaders: Stuart & Joan

Attendees : 13

Habitats: Grimwith- grassland and woodland and rocky shoreline surrounding the large Yorkshire Water reservoir.

Trollers Ghyll - stream side leading to limestone outcrops and lead mining spoil heaps.

Weather- Grimwith cool and breezy; Trollers Ghyll warmer - fine but cloudy in the main throughout the day.

 

Number of species seen Total Birds = 34, Flowers Total Grimwith 69 & 6 ferns, Trollers Ghyll 75 & 4 ferns.

Significant species: Birds Grimwith: Ringed Plover(Stuart), Common Sandpiper, Curlew, Merlin, Oystercatcher, Reed Bunting, Spotted Flycatcher (botanists), Chaffinch. This area is an important breeding ground for these birds.

Trollers Ghyll:Grey Wagtail, Willow warbler, Jackdaw, Green Woodpecker, Wheatear and Buzzard ( Stuart).

Flowers: Grimwith Adder's Tongue Fern in good numbers, Round leaved Crowfoot, Bog Stichwort. Early spring flowers Cowslip, Bluebell and Bugle were seen in prime condition.

 Troller's Ghyll: Large Bittercress, Early purple orchid, Tormentil, an assemblage of plants associated with a limestone rock garden - Bedstraws, Rock rose leaves not flowers,  Salad Burnet, Bird's foot Trefoil, Blue moor grass, Quaking grass and Pignut. Spring sandwort ( Stuart again!) Mammals-Rabbit

  

Refreshments: Parcevall Hall tea rooms.

Thanks go to all for their contribution to this lovely day out. Great to see Donald back in the fold- he wasn't away for long!

See the photos here. 

Margaret

 

WFV, Malhamdale-Airton, 24th May 2016

By The RiverBy The River

A sunny morning saw a complement of 12 set off for Airton, where we were joined by Alan who managed to locate us in spite of our parking in a location just behind Airton Mills.  From here we commenced our walk along the river bank which provided plenty for the botanists amongst us to record, though a redpoll was seen by Stuart along this section.  Initial progress was slow as expected with so much to see however joining the Pennine Way footpath provided more opportunity for the birders as we worked our way towards our lunch stop at Kirby Malham churchyard, where a goldcrest flitting amongst a yew tree provided interest whilst we ate our sandwiches.

After lunch we divided into 2 groups, the first group being led by Alice back towards Airton along the other side of the river.  I led the other group of 6 on a walk over the fields above the church where we had wonderful views of Malham Cove.  Curlews and oystercatchers were also spotted on route.  Both groups amazingly finished respective walks at the same time and adjourned to the Town End tea rooms in Airton for refreshments.

In total the day provided 35 bird sightings, including a spotted flycatcher.  124 species of flower were recorded, 106 of which were in flower plus 7 ferns.  Butterfly count produced green veined white, numerous orange tips and one peacock.  Thanks to Alice for leading and Robert for driving.

See the photos here. 

Sally Tetlow

WFV, Wetherby And The River Wharfe, 17th May 2016

On The LaneOn The Lane

Marilyn and her husband Robert joined forces this week to lead a walk in Wetherby, After the minibus dropped off the group at Morrisons in Wetherby, Robert led the minibus to park up at the end of the planned walk. Having rejoined the group at Morrisons we were led along the High Street before we turned off through the Wilderness car park to reach the riverside path. It was here that we spotted a treecreeper. The group quickly became strung out with the botanists taking their time and delighting in the abundance of spring, over the day seeing almost twice as many plants in flower as on the previous trip. The final tally was 112 plants in flower and 4 ferns. Notable species on the riverside included Yellow Archangel, Wood Melick and Russian Comfrey. A kingfisher was seen on the river and a buzzard was seen overhead, being mobbed by a crow. 29 birds were seen in total.

The faster paced of the group had a very leisurely lunch stop as they waited for the botanists to join them. After lunch as we left the river path, there was no doubting that we were passing close to the water treatment works. Our route continued along a hedge-lined lane where Greater Stitchwort and Black Bryony were recorded. A yellowhammer was seen as we skirted the perimeter of a field where we also spotted a distant hare running around. 

Singing RobinSinging RobinAfter crossing a road a Four Spotted Chaser was seen beside a pond; one of 5 dragonflies/damselflies seen. The dry, moderately warm conditions yielded a butterfly count of 5 including Brimstone, Orange Tip and Peacock. We turned off the road, passing Wetherby racecourse, continuing downhill to join the trackbed of the disused railway line which took us back to the bus via the underpass. 

 The variety of habitats on this walk had undoubtedly been a factor in providing rich botanical interest. The wild cherry blossom and apple blossom were particularly beautiful and it was very unusual to see 6 species of Speedwell in one outing. 

Many thanks to Marilyn and Robert for leading this lovely walk. See the pictures here. 

Sue

WFV, Sefton Coast, 10th May 2016

Group In The Sand DunesGroup In The Sand DunesToday's trip was to a favourite site, Sefton Coast, and to a special friend of BEES, Pat Lockwood. We had planned to visit a different part of the coast from previous visits but Pat had found that a recent dry spell of weather meant that the Spring annuals that she had wanted to show us were over but she found them in a spot previously visited. A full minibus left Bradford and journeyed to Formby in the hope that we might avoid the forecast rain showers and was welcomed by Pat at her home where we ate our lunch sandwiches in the company of local expert Philip Smith who was again to be our guide for the day.

The showers started as we left for the coast and persisted throughout the afternoon but were never heavy enough to spoil our enjoyment of the many plants that were on display. Joan recorded 58 plants in flower together with four ferns. Of special interest were Spring Beauty, Dune Pansy, Early Forget-me-not, Hound's-tongue, Sea Pea, Lamb's Lettuce, Portland Spurge, Marsh Pennywort, Curled Dock and various rare grasses including Early Hair Grass. Heath Dog-violet was abundant and Milkwort was found in three different colours; white, blue and mauve - the first time that Joan had come across all three on the same site. This is the location of the very rare Creeping Willow hybrid Salix x Friesiana (of which we were able to see examples in Pat's garden!)

Creeping Willow was also abundant on the dunes and supported large numbers of White Satin Moth caterpillars. One Angle Shades caterpillar was also recorded and one Northern Tiger Dune Beetle to the delight of John. The natterjack toads, however, kept out of sight on this occasion!

Whilst most members were enthralled with the botanical delights of the site one or two set out to discover what bird life there might be around and we managed to record 29 species including whitethroat, stonechat, reed bunting and both sedge and reed warbler.

After an interesting afternoon in the field we returned to Pat's house for tea and cakes, several of which had been baked by group members for which we were very grateful and so it was a contented group which returned to Bradford in the early evening. Many thanks to Joan and her friend Pat for the organisation of the day and for Pat's splendid hospitality, to Julia and Robert for the driving and to Sue who stuck to her photography duties despite suffering the ravages of jet-lag after her recent return from China.

See the photos here. 

Stuart

WFV Oxenber and Wharfe Woods, Austwick near Settle, 3rd May 2016

Early Purple OrchidsEarly Purple OrchidsWhilst waiting at the Branch, Shipley for the minibus a short,sharp shower didn't auger well for the day to come. As our group of 11 travelled towards Austwick (the toilet stop and start of the walk) the leaden clouds looked very threatening. However, during the day, we were treated to dry weather and plenty of sunshine. Quite glorious,although there was a chilly breeze and jackets were needed.

The temperatures were not high enough to tempt out any butterflies or moths. The flowers were in abundance however.

A total of 32 flowering plants were recorded by Alice; the stars of the show were the Wood Anenomes which festooned the hillsides. I have never seen so many. Early Purple Orchids were just starting to emerge, none were seen larger than 4 inches. Sweet Violets, Common Dogs, Primroses, Bluebells and False Oxlips also were in good numbers.

Only a few birds were seen though Willow Warblers were plentiful.

Our meander through these renowned limestone pasture woodlands led us first through Oxenber and then into Wharfe Wood and onwards towards the village of Feizor and 'Elaine's Tea Rooms' for our afternoon repast. The itinerary did make mention of Feizor Wood but I was not aware of entering said wood. 

Julia, our driver, rather selflessly walked back to Austwick to collect the bus to save the group a further mile and a bit of walking. Elaine's cakes are particularly good and their teas are served in proper teapots!

A splendid day, all in all. 

See the photos here. 

John Gavaghan