Wildlife Field Visit, Malham Tarn Boardwalk, 22nd May 2018

Submitted by Wildlife Field… on Wed, 23rd May 2018, 4:01pm

BogbeanBogbeanOur three previous visits to this site, all in the month of August, were all abandoned before we ever got near to the boardwalk area! The plan this time was (A) go at at different time of year & (B) start at the boardwalk, rather than the mire at the southern end of the tarn. The plan worked perfectly as we had a dry day with warm sunshine throughout. There was however a keen north-easterly breeze which always kept the temperature below 20C.

The temperature was high enough however to tempt out lots of Orange Tip & Green-veined White butterflies. We also saw several Four-spotted Chaser dragonflies and Large Red Damselflies. Luckily we also managed good views of a solitary Green Hairstreak. The site doesn't hold much of its bilberry foodplant so only supports a small colony.

We heard lots of birdsong but they stayed mostly hidden from view. We did though manage to see a Sedge Warbler and a Tree Pipit. A few of us were very lucky to see a Short-eared Owl burst out of the undergrowth and just as quickly vanish out of sight. We didn't know what the large raptor was until we were told a few minutes later by two birders that they had just seen a shortie!

Whilst we were sat on the boardwalk having our lunches we were passed by a very large and well marshalled group led by two folk we know very well; Hugh and Lisa Firman. The group were all staying at Scargill House, a religious retreat near Kettlewell which our group has visited several times.

The boardwalk goes over Tarn Moss and Tarn Fen. Although set in a limestone area, a raised bog with an acid-loving flora has developed, so the site is botanically exceptional. Alice and Joan recorded 60 plants in flower plus 6 ferns and emerging Water Horsetail. These included Early Purple Orchids,Globe Flower, Bogbean, Cranberry, Sundew, Marsh Marigolds, Marsh Valerian and Lousewort plus English Scurvy Grass and Dioecious Sedge (both newplants for our two botanists). Additionally they also encountered an odd form of Water Avens just as they had done a week earlier at Threshfield Quarries.

We left the site at 14:30 and headed a short distance to the sink hole area near the large car park, hoping to see the Yellow Wagtails which nest there every year. Alas, no luck on that front! but we did get to see Mountain Pansies, Birdseye Primrose and Meadow Pipits. We left for home at 14:50.

Many thanks go to our joint drivers, Stuart and Sue. We also welcomed two newcomers, Sue and Jean who we first met when we visited Denso Marstons in April. Hopefully, if they enjoyed their day out, they will join us again. See the photos here. 

John Gavaghan


Comment.  The peculiar Water Avens flowers we have seen on our last two visits are not hybrids. They are caused by naturally occuring mutations. It seems that there are many more of them this year than is normal. Alice.

WFV Threshfield Quarry 15 May 2018

Submitted by Wildlife Field… on Wed, 16th May 2018, 4:59am

Dryad's SaddleDryad's SaddleBeautiful weather - warm and sunny, splendid trees in full flower, a lovely display of colourful flowers, these were the ingredients of todays walk. Our walk was in the environs of Threshfield near Grassington and involved walking down country lanes, up a grassy flower strewn hillside, through a disused limestone quarry and a visit to historical lime kilns. The group of 12 divided into a party of two, myself and Maddy being the appointed leaders. Unfortunately we were not able to come together to enjoy lunch overlooking a superb rock garden behind Long Ashes caravan park as planned and remained out of touch (other than by mobile phone) for most of the day but thankfully not lost!

My party was able to enjoy the spring flowers that surrounded us. We saw Goldilocks buttercup, Ramsons, Bluebells, Bird Cherry, Primrose, Cowslip, Bugle, Field Mouseear, Dog violets, Early Purple orchids (in good numbers and at their best), Water avens and hybrids, Salad Burnet, Wild and Barren Strawberry, Hairy Rockcress, the leaves of St John's Wort also Common and Green Figwort. The ferns present included Brittle Bladder and Harts Tongue fern. Alice recorded 76 flowers for her group.

  Butterflies were on the wing in good numbers specifically Orange tip, Green veined white and Speckled wood. 

The bird count was 19. Birds were heard rather than seen although a Curlew was spotted by Donald flying overhead, nesting Jackdaws were seen patrolling the quarry and a female Pheasant was seen with chicks. Lapwing and Oystercatcher were seen on the journey home. 

The industrial archaeology of the abandoned quarry including the trucks used for transporting limestone ballast and lime kilns was of considerable interest in particular to Jane whose husband is an enthusiast.

 The countryside was in pristine condition and we were afforded with some lovely views of Lower Wharfedale. If the weather remains the same as today for the rest of the summer we will be truly blessed. 

Thanks go to Stuart for driving and to Maddy for her support. 

See photos here. 


WFV, High Batts, 8th May 2018

Submitted by Wildlife Field… on Wed, 9th May 2018, 2:41pm

Bird CherryBird CherryTen members and Kevin, who we hope will become a driver for us, enjoyed the long awaited sights of Spring on our journey north. We were welcomed at High Batts by Colin Slater, the reserve Chairman. We learned of the site development and management policy and the continuing gravel extraction programme. Colin then guided us around the different areas of the reserve drawing attention to features and answering our questions. The site is managed for nature not for man and nothing leaves the site except by its own volition.

The mildly alkaline soil supports a wealth of plants. Bluebells and Ramsons carpeted the floor in the more enclosed woodland. In the open ride areas the ground was spotted with Primroses, Cowslips, Dog violets, Ground ivy, Crosswort, Barren strawberry and Bugle. Maddie's spotting skills noticed a single stem of Wood stitchwort. Speedwells were well represented on the reserve; common field, slender, ivy leaved, wood and wall being recorded. From the large Bird cherries in magnificent bloom to the "going over" Star of Bethlehem there was so much to see. The gall on Dog Violet leaves is still to be identified

In areas one almost bounced on the cushion of moss, a reminder of how wet the land can be. The ponds were remarkably clear and alive with insect life including Large Red Damselflies mating on the edging plants. Water Horsetail dominated here and Yellow Water lilies were opening . While I botanized a newt and a frog appeared.

A lunch break in the "hotel" hide by the river afforded some of us with an electric blue flash as a Kingfisher flew upstream. From another hide we had close views of a Greater Spotted Woodpecker and of Marsh Tits. 22 other birds were recorded.

In response to the weather six butterfly species were flying: Brimstone, Orange Tip, Peacock, Small White, Speckled Wood, and a single Comma spotted by Colin.

Great interest was shown and many photographs taken of the Common Morel fungus. This was new to most of us, even to John, and something which returns annually to its particular area of the reserve. The moral here is don't shun new places!(Sorry)

High Batts is a hidden gem. We saw so much and are aware of more to be seen, so watch for a further visit on a future programme. Many thanks to Colin for generously giving of his time and expertise, to Steve for the initial suggestion and to Julia for driving.

See photos here. 



WFV, Hardcastle Crags, 1st May 2018

Submitted by Wildlife Field… on Wed, 2nd May 2018, 3:32pm

Pink PurslanePink PurslaneWe were a party of 10 that met at the carpark and together we made our way in warm sunshine to Gibson mill, about a mile walk through rich woodland.  After lunch there we returned to the car park by a riverside walk which though boggy and difficult walking in places was very rewarding in plant, fungi, and bird sightings.


Many thanks to Alice for her record of plant species spotted -

Plants in flower = 34, including 2 grasses, 3 woodrushes 

There were masses of Great Woodrush, a lot of Hairy Woodrush and a few spikes of Field Woodrush near the car park picnic area.

Also patches of Early Common Dog violets and Dog violets, Golden saxifrage, and Pink Purslane.

Marsh Marigolds where  damp, Bluebells  and Ramsons (not yet all fully open).  Both Wild and  Bird Cherry.        

New growth seen on 10 Fern species.


Many thanks to John for his record of fungi (and a solitary butterfly!) -

purplepore bracket, lumpy bracket, smoky bracket, ganoderma, glistening inkcap

and the butterfly: the green-veined white


Some of the bird species spotted -

blackcap(h), blue tit, chaffinch, crow, great tit(h), grey wagtail, dipper, heron, mallard with ducklings, pheasant(h), song thrush, woodpecker(h), wren.

 See photos here. 



WFV, Denso Marston Nature Reserve, Shipley, 24th April 2018

Submitted by Wildlife Field… on Wed, 25th Apr 2018, 9:53am

By the River AireBy the River AireWe were a small party of 9 plus 2 guests (Sue and Jean who had met Alice previously on the reserve). It was nice to have Robert's company again after a period of absence. The weather was fine but cool. We were met at the gate by Steve Warrilow the warden. Steve established the reserve twenty years ago on land belonging to the Denso Marston factory and which is adjacent to the River Aire. He was initially brought in as a landscape gardener but soon realized its potential as a haven for birds, his life time passion; and he started to create a habitat to their liking. 

The reserve which is entirely man made consisting of mixed woodland, ponds, hedgerows and grassland areas was looking picturesque with a profusion of blossom, fresh green leaves and pristine flora. A tremendous amount of work has been completed – tree planting, hedge laying, pond creation and dry stone walling in the creation of a habitat for all to enjoy. The reserve has developed a strong educational role with visiting groups of children and adults.

The reserve supports a great variety species of fauna and flora. Fifteen bird species were recorded on the day; on the river Goosander (male and female), Jay and Mallard. A heron was seen flying over the reserve. In the woodland we saw and heard great tit, Blue tit, Coal tit and Blackcap. On the ponds a Moorhen was viewed. The several of the shrubs and trees were in leaf and flower, notably blackthorn and cherry. Our highlight species of the day was Field Maple with its upright clusters of small green flowers and leaves cut into five lobes.  The ground flora was very varied consisting of primrose, cowslip, false oxlip, wood anemone, dog violet, white dead-nettle, ramsons, bluebell, yellow archangel, water avens and cuckoo flower.

The reserve,since its inception, has recorded 25 species of butterfly including the White-letter Hairstreak. Numerous bumble bees were seen feeding on nectar. There are an abundance of small mammals to be found under the boards scattered around the reserve. Another innovative feature was the use of dog hair (in particular the hair of a volunteer’s husky dog) which was placed inside a milk carton which was hung on the bird feeder stand and used by a blue tit. Numerous nest boxes were in situ and the birds are building nests for their eggs at present.

We made use of the facilities of the education centre for lunch. Subsequently some members departed whilst a group of 6 led by Vera made a short walk over the river and canal into Buck Wood returning before the rain increased.

Thanks go to Steve for showing us the reserve and for his enthusiastic and informative account. Also to Vera and Alice for making the arrangements for our visit and leadership on the day. 

See photos here. 



WFV, Tophill Low, 17th April 2018

Submitted by Wildlife Field… on Thu, 19th Apr 2018, 9:36pm


A fine day greeted our departure to Tophill Low.  This reserve has 180 hectares of woodland, grassland and historic River Hull wetlands with 12 bird hides and a magnificent viewing gallery overlooking one of the reservoirs.  On arrival we were given an introductory talk by Jane, one of the volunteers, in the gallery from where we could see the returning summer migrants of martins, both sand and house, as well as swallows, swooping low over the water.  Numerous tufted duck were in evidence as well as gadwall and great crested grebes.

Our group then walked through the adjacent woodland where we were treated to the delights of birdsong from a range of species, notably blackcap, willow warbler and chiffchaff.  Roe deer were also seen by some.  

Lunch was eaten in the first hide where we were treated to sightings of goldeneye, both male and female, these being seen briefly displaying by Stuart.  At this point we separated, the site being so vast it afforded endless opportunities for exploration.  Trees were bursting into leaf and flower all over the reserve, the most notable of these being the black poplar and also a European larch, which looked spectacular with its male and female flowers showing well.  An absolute delight and my personal spot of the day.  23 plants in flower were recorded by Alice with an interesting find of a woody growth on a Cirsium arvensis.  Apparently this was caused by a gall fly,  Urophora cardi, and on later dissection at home by Alice, the larva was found.  

Bird sightings numbered 52 with the chaffinch in particular looking resplendent in their breeding plumage.  Alice spotted a couple of yellow wagtails bathing in a puddle and Stuart and Julia were privy to a pair of little ringed plover mating.  Alison had to avert her eyes at this point!

A thoroughly enjoyable day with plenty to see and to crown it all, on departure, a hare was spotted in a field as we drove out of the reserve. Magic!  Many thanks to Stuart and Julia for driving and Alice for her co-leadership.

See photos here. 


WFV, Great Northern Trail, Thornton,10th April 2018

Submitted by Wildlife Field… on Mon, 16th Apr 2018, 2:36pm

Marcescence On BeechMarcescence On BeechA very wet morning did not deter Stuart from driving four other stalwarts to Thornton. On arrival the lure of the cafe was too great to ignore and an ideal place to meet Lorna, our leader, who then escorted us along the Sustrans Route.


Spring had visited but was not in attendance today. Fortunately the walk was on metalled paths although there was standing water on the verges. Only twelve plants were seen in flower. All year round flowerers were joined by Butterbur (male), Lesser Celandine and, surprisingly, Creeping Corydalis which was spotted by Maddie. Trees with flowers were Goat Willows showing both male and female catkins, and tufts of red stamens on Elm. Shrubs were represented by Gorse giving our brightest splashes of colour and Blackthorn in varying stages of opening.

Moss covered walls relieved the monochrome grey vistas and Maiden Hair Spleenwort was abundant on one bridge while absent on others. Fungi seen were Jelly Ear and the remains of what must previously have been an enormous puffball.

Birds were reclusive with sound being the trigger for most sightings. Eighteen species were recorded ranging from the diminutive wren to members of the crow family. A nuthatch and a green woodpecker may have been lurking but were not seen. The highlight of the day was the welcome sound of the chiff chaffs back here for the summer, 

Young rabbits were the only mammal seen although we suspected that damage to tree bark may have been caused by deer.

It was a pity that because of the conditions the planned route had to be shortened.  Lorna's wealth of knowledge of the history and development of the area was much appreciated . We arrived back at Culture Fusion in the early afternoon. Thanks to both Lorna and Stuart.

 See photos here. 




WFV, Potteric Carr YWT, 20th March 2018

Submitted by Wildlife Field… on Wed, 21st Mar 2018, 10:31pm

Tree ReflectionsTree ReflectionsThere were twelve of us today, and we started our tour of the reserve on the loop around the Beeston Plantation in the hope that we could get a glance of the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker than has been seen on few occasions. We weren’t to be so lucky but did get good views of a couple of Treecreepers. The plantation is mainly birch trees, and they were covered in Hoof Fungus. 

The next stop were the hides near Willow Marsh. Again, we weren’t lucky enough to see the Bittern which had been seen here over the past few days. The man we spoke to in the hide had been sitting there since 7am to get a view (he had had 4 sightings), but considering we choose to take a broader view of the reserve, it’s not surprising we didn’t see the bittern on this visit.

After lunch, and a view of c.50 Siskin feeding in a alder tree near the education centre, we passed under the railway and to Huxter Well Marsh. Here there are areas of open water separated by reeds. On the water we saw Shoveler, Pochard, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, a pair of Shelduck, a few Teal and quite a number of Black-headed Gulls. There were several Little and Great Crested Grebes and, amidst a wintery shower, we felt confident in the identification of the resident Black-necked Grebe. We saw a couple of Egyptian Geese feeding as they waded through standing water. 

In total we saw 39 bird species on the reserve, As we arrived there was a Kestrel over the new visitor centre and Goldcrest, Bullfinch and Tit species were seen along the tree-lined pathways. We could add buzzard to the count as we passed 4 on the A1 on our return home.

There were a few plants in flower, but only a few. The Coltsfoot shone brightly in the wintery vegetation. By the afternoon we could actually feel some warmth in the sun. Today is the spring equinox, let’s hope from now on we see an improvement in the weather. 

More photos in the gallery



WFV, Austwick Hall, 20th Feb 2018

Submitted by Wildlife Field… on Wed, 21st Feb 2018, 2:39pm

In The WoodIn The WoodAfter an uneventful journey through the beautiful dales countryside the full mini bus of 15 Bees enthusiasts arrived in the Village of Austwick. Then complications struck, the bus stopped and refused to start again. As we were only a short distance from our destination of Austwick Hall our trusty driver, Julia, suggested we walk through the village leaving her to use her phone to summon some kind of help.

The day was warm and sunny, the village houses and gardens pretty and we soon arrived at Austwick Hall where we were welcomed by our hosts who ushered us into a lovely drawing room  and offered us tea, coffee and delicious home baked cakes and scones, as we enjoyed our refreshments the owners of the Hall gave us some information as to the best way to walk up through the wood behind the Hall to see the Snowdrops and any other plants, fungi and trees of interest.

Refreshed we meandered  steadily up through the wood enjoying  the dappled sunlight which in places lit up drifts of snowdrops nestled in mossy hollows giving our party the feeling that, yes, Spring really was at last coming to chilly Yorkshire.

At intervals throughout the wood sculptures had been placed to give extra interest, one of the figures gave rise to much discussion, was it a dog? a lion?, no  according to our garden map it was a baboon.

Some other plants of interest, apart from the snowdrops, noticed by Alice and Joan were Dog’s Mercury and wild Arum pushing through the cold ground, a growth of puffballs on a tree and among the many unusual trees were some Redwoods. Also a song thrush was heard singing its enjoyment of this early spring day. Later in the day as some folks warmed up in the Game Cock pub a few of the others did a short walk and Annual meadow grass, Rue leafed saxifrage and walls thick with lichen were noted.

In the meantime, Julia back at the minibus, in her usual calm and efficient manner had organised the transport of the disabled vehicle back to Bradford and taxis for her grateful passengers.

And so after a shaky start it was "all's well that ends well" and thanks to our leaders John and Lorna and special thanks to Julia we did have a really lovely day. More photos here.

Marilyn Barber.


WFV, Breary Marsh, 6th February 2018

Submitted by Wildlife Field… on Wed, 7th Feb 2018, 8:53am

Witch HazelWitch HazelOn a bitterly cold morning 7 of us arrived at the Golden Acre car park to meet up with Donald, Margaret and Steve. Snow was gently falling as we set off for Breary Marsh giving an ethereal feel to our surroundings. Crossing the bridge we passed a couple of hazel trees resplendent with catkins. Closer inspection revealed a number of female flowers also showing. Through the woodland our bird sightings included of course a robin whilst a wren was seen flitting through the hedgerow. A great spotted woodpecker was heard drumming and was quickly spotted by Alice high in the tree tops. Birch polypore were much in evidence and a red kite was seen flying overhead. As we approached Paul's Pond 2 roe deer were noted running through the fields in the distance. Mute swans were seen on the pond and great and blue tits could be heard in adjacent woodland. On a previous visit Margaret had seen flocks of linnet in the fields leading away from the pond but none were in evidence today.

Our party then returned to the minibus to lunch in the relative warmth leaving Donald and Margaret to progress ahead to the Adel dam hide. On joining up later, we were rewarded with plenty of activity amongst the bird population. Chaffinches showed well looking handsome in their breeding plumage. Also seen were nuthatch, bullfinch, jays, long tailed, great, blue and coal tits. A late appearance by a male and female mandarin duck added to our enjoyment.

Overall the day produced a total bird count of 28. Julia did see and photograph a treecreeper and along with Maddy also saw a charm of goldfinches. Lots of liverwort was seen lining the stream and various moss species were also noted as well as 5 plants in flower, Mention should also be made of a witch hazel in the park which looked magnificent in full flower. A most enjoyable day with plenty to see. Many thanks to Julia for driving. See photos here.

Sally Tetlow