All Blog Posts

WFV, Water's Edge Country Park, 18th August 2015

Washout (View from the Visitor Centre)Washout (View from the Visitor Centre)Another very wet day; after Malham we thought it wouldn't happen again but it did. It rained continuously throughout the day. The only consolation was that it had also rained back in Bradford. We were a party of 10 setting off from the Unitarian church and were joined by Robert, Linda and Edie. Fortunately Water's Edge has a superb visitor centre which acted as our base for two sorties, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. We were joined by local botanists Angela and Stuart also Sarah, Alice's friend.

Our morning walk took us along the foreshore of the Humber estuary with the Humber Bridge towering to our left. The skies were grey and the Humber a murky brown. The plants of the foreshore included Sea Aster, Wild Carrot, Mugwort, Henbit Dead-nettle and Wild Mignonette.The birds included Black-tailed Godwit and Dunlin. The rain was lashing down before us and we gravitated to the trees where we found shelter. The main party marched back to the visitors' centre whilst the botanists (a hardy bunch) stuck true to their mission of recording shrubs and flora. Along the path sides we found Guelder Rose, Dogwood, Bristly Ox-tongue, Fleabane, Black Mustard and Great Lettuce.

The two options for the afternoon were to remain at the centre (the preferred choice of six of the party) or to complete a walk in the woodland.The remainder of the party joined Angela and Stuart on this walk.We found several plants of interest growing on rough ground in front of the visitors' centre including Viper's Bugloss, Haresfoot Clover, Hoary plantain, Golden Melilot and Lady's Bedstraw. In the woodland we found Canadian Fleabane and Hedgerow Cranesbill. We emerged near the path we had taken in the morning where we found a good stand of Ploughman's Spikenard , followed by Gipsywort, Watermint and Purple Loosetrife by the lake. Stuart took us to view a patch of Centaury in seed growing on sandy soil. Despite the poor weather conditions a total of 120 plants were recorded. The bird count was 14 and included Greylag Geese, Mute Swans, Gadwall, Little Grebe and Coot in good numbers.

Our spirits were high and good humour prevailed. Thank go to our leaders Angela, Stuart and Margaret; to our drivers Sue and Robert and to Alice for her assistance throughout the day.

Margaret

WFV, Malham Tarn, 4th August 2015

By Malham TarnBy Malham Tarn

The last two visits to this site were both cut short due to terrible weather. We surely couldn’t be unlucky a third time?  Oh yes we could!   The driving rain began the moment we stepped out of the minibus. It had been fine when we set off and when we made our toilet stop in Malham: but there is something about the tarn & BEES. 

All seats on the bus were full and four had travelled using their own transport.  Before they had gone a few hundred yards; Robert, Linda, grandchild Eden and Marilyn were so wet and cold they turned back to the shelter of the bus. The remainder hurried towards and past the tarn hoping to seek some shelter within the trees. Botanising would have to wait till the way back.  Half the group reached the bird-hide where we stayed to eat our lunches to the sound of the rain beating on the metal roof.  Only a few Mallards could be positively identified in the gloom. There may have been other birds out there but who knew or cared?

The other half meanwhile had fared much better. They had called into the Field Study Centre where some kindly soul had offered them hot drinks and Coconut cakes.  Luxury!

WheatearWheatearThe decision was taken by the leader Alice that we would not go onto the boardwalk, which had been our main objective as it was still raining. Many of the party myself included were very wet.

On the return leg we met up with the lucky cake-eaters (Joan, Janet, Phillip, Veronica, Lorna and Margaret) who were all rather too smug for my liking. ButterwortButterwort The rain mainly eased so we were able to record plants alongside the path; a total of 80 in flower excl. Grasses and sedges. These included Common Spotted, Northern Marsh and Early Marsh Orchids and possibly some hybrids. Also Grass of Parnassus, Birds Eye, Lousewort and Bog Asphodel were seen. The rain quickly returned however.

The only bird of note was Yellow Wagtail seen by Sally and Stuart who had detoured towards the Trenhouse Farm area which is a renowned site for this now scarce migrant.

The plan had been to call into the farm cafe at Airton but a number of the group simply wanted to be home as soon as possible so that was that. Perhaps next year it will be 4th time lucky?  Watch this space.

 

John Gavaghan 

WFV, Ledston Luck and Roach Lime Hills, East Leeds, 28th July

The Sun Peeps ThroughThe Sun Peeps Through 

On this week's trip the bus met up at Kippax Leisure Centre with Margaret and Marilyn who had travelled by car and Kate Phillips who works for the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. Kate was our leader for the day and we followed her to our first site, Ledston Luck. This former coal mine is now a nature reserve that includes meadow, pond and woodland. Kate spoke to us about the history of the reserve and how it is now managed and we were then free to explore as we wished. The weather forecast was poor and we had experienced heavy rain on our journey.Pyramidal OrchidPyramidal Orchid It was cool and showery but we saw more than we expected given the conditions. Butterflies spotted included meadow brown, gatekeeper and ringlet. Common darters and blue tailed damselflies were seen. There was a vast number of orchids including pyramidal, southern marsh and common spotted. 109 plants in flower were recorded including yellow-wort and centaury.

As we were wandering back to the bus, Margaret became unwell. Although she did rally, it was felt inadvisable for her to continue and she went home with Marilyn. After having lunch in the car park, Kate took us to our second site of the day: Roach Lime Hills. This is a privately owned calcareous grassland. Spiny RestharrowSpiny RestharrowThe interest here was largely botanical. 82 plants in flower were noted including clustered bellflower, small scabious, field scabious, greater knapweed and my favourite, the spiny restharrow which many in the group had never seen before. The rain continued to threaten and the sun tried largely unsuccessfully to break through the cloud. 

Bird sightings numbered about 10. A pair of blackcaps was seen in the afternoon and buzzard and kestrel were seen in flight. 

It was nice to have Robert's wife and granddaughter on the trip. Many thanks to Margaret for organising the day and to Kate for giving us her time.

Sue

WFV Hutton Roof Crags, Cumbria WT site & NNR 21st July 2015

Limestone PavementLimestone PavementFourteen of us enjoyed a splendid day out on Hutton Roof Crags, a limestone outcrop which towers above the M 6 motorway. Initial worries about the weather, finding a parking space and meeting up with Margaret's friend Maureen were soon dissipated. We were led into the delightful woodland of hazel and oak by Julia. The Bees conservation volunteers have been involved in tasks on Hutton Roof over several years giving welcome assistance to Cumbria Wildlife Trust in maintaining and creating habitats in which the special plants and butterflies can thrive. We stopped for lunch in an open glade which allowed us to view the many species of plant and butterfly present. Occasionally a butterfly took to the wing but as it was cloudy many were resting on their favourite plant. All seemed to be in pristine condition.. Common Cow-wheatCommon Cow-wheat The blues stood out as shining jewels. 7 butterfly species were seen including Ringlet (in good numbers), Common Blue, Meadow Brown, Small and Large Skipper and Grayling. John was able to capture a Northern Brown Argus to demonstrate how its diminutive size helped to distinguish it from the Common Blue. The flora of the glade was an interesting variety including Cow Wheat, Common Spotted Orchid, Betony, Rock Rose, Bird's Foot Trefoil and an interesting Lady's Mantle. A further exploration of the sloping grassland and limestone pavement yielded Carline Thistle, the leaves of Lily of the Valley, Juniper (a nationally rare and threatened shrub) and delightful Dropwort.

We continued along the woodland path to the clearing where Julia and her band had been working. A considerable number of trees had been felled to create a large open habitat. It was here that we saw a Fritillary butterfly- was it Dark Green or High Brown ? The group was undecided. We emerged at an outcrop of classic limestone pavement with its deep grikes from which ferns( Hart's Tongue, Maidenhair Spleenwort), sedges( Flea sedge) and flora were emerging. Once we got our eye in we could see that the pavement was littered with individual spikes of the national rarity, the Dark Red Helleborine. The specimens were very fresh looking, we had timed our visit well. Other favorites seen were Wall Lettuce, Traveller's Joy, and Ploughman's Spikenard ( identified by Joan but not yet in flower) and finally Angular Solomon's Seal ( mission accomplished for John).Northern Brown ArgusNorthern Brown Argus Please consult Joan and Alice for the full list of 140 flowers recorded. Donald's bird count was limited to 8 including a Raven -its loud, abrupt, echoing cronk cronk call being heard. Also a delightful wren made a fleeting appearance on the top of a wood pile. As the walk was quite demanding of concentration and physical effort we returned to the minibus tired but satisfied souls, nothing that a long soak in the bath and a glass of wine couldn't put right for the next day. Our sincere thanks go to Julia for both leading and driving also Sue and Robert and everybody for taking part in a lovely day out.

Margaret

WFV, Scargill House, Upper Wharfedale, 14th July 2015

View To KettlewellView To Kettlewell

Two years since our last interesting visit to Scargill House  we returned with the botanists looking forward to an array of limestone-loving plants whilst the ornithologists were especially on the lookout for pied flycatcher and redstart.

Scargill is a Christian retreat set in a 90-acre estate which comprises meadow, woodland,  limestone terracing and a walled garden. The drizzle which greeted our late arrival, caused by roadworks on the A65, had cleared by the time we had enjoyed the tea and biscuits offered by Scargill House whilst Hugh Firman, our guide for the day,  briefly outlined the day’s programme.

A blackcap’s song accompanied the first part of our walk and butterflies were on the wing as we walked slowly through the meadow and then started to climb through the woodlands to the limestone terracing but it was after 1.30 before we reached our lunch stop with extensive views over the Wharfe valley. By this time the sun was shining and lots of chimneysweeper moths were flitting about together with numerous ringlet butterflies.  Northern Brown ArgusNorthern Brown ArgusThe occasional northern brown argus butterflies caused some identification problems to the uninitiated due to their being very similar to the female common blue.  John, of course, was on hand to correct any misidentification.

Helped by Hugh’s friends, Joan and Philip from Todmorden, Joan and Alice recorded 159 plants in flower whilst 19 birds species were seen or heard and 12 butterflies and 5 day-flying moths were seen.  Highlights from the botanists’ list were mountain mellick, northern bedstraw and common spotted orchid whilst surprisingly dewberry and aspen were not on the plant list for the site and so were added to the record.  LotsBloody CranesbillBloody Cranesbill of rock roses decorated the limestone terraces together with wild strawberry which provided a dessert for some.  The ornithologists searched in vain for a pied flycatcher or redstart but we did see a tree pipit and three raptors. (Hugh did see a redstart and a red-legged partridge two minutes after our departure).

The day was rounded off with tea and cakes back at Scargill before we headed back to Bradford very satisfied with our day’s outing.

Unfortunately our delayed arrival meant that we didn’t have time to fully explore the walled garden but we vowed to do that when next we return to this delightful spot.

 

Thanks go to Margaret for organising the day and to our driver for the day, Robert.  

Stuart

WFV, Extended Day Out - Sheffield Sites, 7th July 2015

Looking At The LakeLooking At The Lake

Despite the weather forecasts to the contrary, we enjoyed warm sunshine for much of the day, although we did have to put up with a strong breeze, particularly at site 2 which was more exposed.  Apart from one brief shower whilst visiting site no. 1 it remained dry throughout. We were therefore lucky enough to see plenty of butterflies at all 3 sites.

We began at Blackburn Meadows, nr Rotherham after first calling in at Magna for the obligatory toilet stop. We were treated to the sight of several fresh Small Tortoiseshells on the extensive brambles by the parking area. A leisurely stroll around this compact reserve also revealed Ringlets, Meadow Browns, Whites, Gatekeeper and Large Skipper.

Goat's RueGoat's RueMy abiding memory of the site will be the Goat’s Rue, one of our most attractive wildflower - introductions.  This plant was growing in abundance all over the site. As we were about to leave we were treated to the spectacle of a heron being repeatedly mobbed by an agitated Lapwing.

Our next port of call was Centenary Riverside, a reclaimed spoil heap. This was confirmed by the array of spectacular garden escapes. We were unable to ID these however, as they were not wildflowers! We did though record Common Centaury, Yellow-wort and Lady’s Bedstraw.  The sun was now out and we all chose a rock to sit on to eat our lunches, apart from Robert who decided to lie in the long grass and enjoy the warmth; he didn’t move from his resting spot until we were ready to leave!  This is not a tranquil site as there is incessant banging and clanging from the surrounding heavy industry plus a nearby rail line.

Additional Lepidoptera seen were Comma, Red Admiral, Green-veined White, Small Heath and Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet.   The upper pond was an ideal place to observe dragonflies and on the wing that day were Emperors, Four-spotted and Broad-bodied Chasers, Common Blue, Azure and Blue-tailed damselflies and Banded Demoiselles. Vera got over excited and somehow managed to hurl her plant book into the water. Four Spotted Chaser and ExuviaFour Spotted Chaser and ExuviaI held Julia’s hand as she leant over to retrieve the floating item. It came out of the water oddly not too worse for wear.  We had been watching a 4 spot chaser continuing to return to an isolated, dessicated reed and Julia saw an exuviae part way down the stem.She thought here was an ideal photo opportunity so went off to locate our top photographer.  Within minutes she returned with Sue and after several failed attempts the shot was in the bag. Well done Sue and Julia.

We had to drive through various districts of Sheffield (via Magna again) in order to reach our final site of the day ‘Carr House Meadows’.  We arrived at this steep-sided area of unimproved meadows at 16:15.Large SkipperLarge Skipper The sun was still shining and Meadow Browns were frequent, also a few Silver Y moths. The grassland was full of clovers, Yellow Rattle and Ox-eye daisies plus a few Common-spotted and Southern Marsh Orchids.  Five of the group later descended towards Morehall Reservoir. This was largely empty of birds apart from a couple of Grebes and one Cormorant.  A delightful spot however.

Shortly after 6pm we set off for our evening meal at the Sovereign at Shepley; a Vintage Inns establishment. By this time it was pouring down but too late to have spoiled our day.  The food was very good.

 

Thanks go to Julia who not only planned the whole day but also did all the driving.


John Gavaghan

WFV, Ballowfield LNR & local sites Wensleydale, 30th June 2015

Our Botanists, Old GlebeOur Botanists, Old GlebeThe hottest day of the year so far. Temperatures at Wimbledon were in the mid 40sC, 100F. In Wensleydale we experienced a warm day with cloud cover. However back in Bradford there were clear skies and sunshine all day. It was with regret that Martin was unable to join us on our day out in his adopted home. Nevertheless the party of 11 had a most enjoyable day out with lots to see and record. A total of 118 flowering species,13 birds and 8 butterflies were seen. Our journey took us through Wharfedale with its delightful flora-rich roadside verges to Buckden and the Cote de Cray into Bishopdale.

Common BlueCommon BlueBallowfield near Aysgarth has a variety of habitats including riverside, lead spoil heaps, hillside grassland, hazel-coppiced woodland and wetland. There were beautiful patches of pink and yellow. The pinks included Thrift, Common Spotted Orchids and Marsh Valerian: the yellows Common Rock Rose (the hillside was covered with flowers) and the Hawkweeds in the lower grassland. We saw two of the special plants, Spring Sandwort and Thrift but not Alpine Pennycress or Moonwort. However it was good to see butterflies on the wing including Northern Brown Argus, Common Blue, Ringlet, Green-Veined White and Dark Green Fritillary. Among several day-flying moths the Chimney Sweeper was seen.

Cistus MothCistus Forester MothIn the afternoon we made a brief visit to Old Glebe Field. We were somewhat alarmed to see that a line of trees which would have given the lower part of the field shade had been felled creating a more open habitat. We wondered whether this would have implications for the beautiful and rare Burnt Tip Orchid which flowers at the bottom of the field in May. The sward of plants included Yellow Rattle, Common Spotted Orchid, Eyebright, Pignut and a variety of grasses. A small number of birds were seen or heard including Oystercatcher, Willow Warbler and Buzzard. Our day out was nicely rounded off by a visit to Berry's farm shop at Swinithwaite. While the majority of the party enjoyed tea,cake or a beer, Maddy strode off to complete the 1.5 mile walk to Redmire Falls and back, however with some anxiety as it involved walking through a field of cows and then bullocks!

A good team effort and thanks to Sue and Robert for the driving and Joan, Margaret and Martin for arranging the trip. Margaret

WFV, Jervaulx Abbey, 23rd June 2015

Abbey RuinsAbbey Ruins

A group of 12 set off on a cool, dull day; some 7 years since the group last visited this famous Wensleydale site:  a ruin since the dissolution of the monasteries in the 1530’s.

The group divided into 5 Riverside Walkers led by Robert and Sue and 7 Abbey Amblers led by Joan. During their 4-5 mile walk the riverites encountered a Hare, birds of prey, Large Skipper butterfly, Banded Demoiselles (male and female) and a parcel of Oystercatchers.

Meanwhile the ‘amblers’ were engaged in a botanical survey of the abbey ruins, though myself, Janet & Phil delayed our start by indulging ourselves in a splendid early lunch in the excellent Abbey cafe.Large SkipperLarge Skipper After our repast we joined Joan, Alice, Eric & Peter in their foray. Some 145 plants were recorded most of them in flower and included: Fairy Flax, Hoary Plantain, Common Spotted Orchid, Viper’s Bugloss, Great Lettuce, Little Periwinkle and Greater Burnet Saxifrage.

At about 13:30 the sun emerged and it soon got quite warm and we were all removing layers of clothing.  Strangely, despite the warmth virtually no butterflies were about apart from one fast flying white & one unidentified Vanessid.  The area has many patches of wildflower meadow, full of clovers and Bird’s foot Trefoil, perfect habitat for insects.  However, none were around probably because the spring butterflies are now finished and the summer broods have not yet emerged? Bees On ThistleBees On ThistleOnly one moth was seen and photographed, a micro ‘Celypha lacunana’.   A solitary damselfly was spotted by Joan, a large Red.

Plenty of birds were around however, the best of which were Spotted Flycatchers and Red-legged Partridge.  After admiring some of the splendid trees such as Cedar of Lebanon we headed back to the cafe where we were soon joined by the ramblers which include David who was making only his second outing with BEES.

A splendid day and thanks to the joint leaders and the two drivers Robert and Sue

John Gavaghan

 

WFV, Grass Wood and Bastow Wood, 16th June 2015

Mountain PansiesMountain PansiesIt was nice to have a new participant with us on this week's trip. After a stop off at the main car park in Grassington we parked up at the small quarry car park alongside Grass Wood nature reserve. Donald led us on a walk of approximately 3 miles. There were plenty of wood and water avens and the hybridised plants and there was a splendid swathe of wild garlic. 93 flowering plants and 7 ferns were noted including lily of the valley, mountain pansy and bloody cranesbill. It was a dry day with some sun breaking through and we did see green veined white and small heath butterflies. As we had lunch in Grass Wood I fear some bugs took the opportunity to feast on us. Soldier BeetleSoldier Beetle

When we headed into Bastow Wood some of the group were fortunate to see a hedgehog ambling across the path. There were beautiful views form the more open terrain here. We retraced our steps back to Grass Wood and then skirted the periphery.In a neighbouring field a noisy curlew alerted us to its presence and then we realised it was calling to its two youngsters that had wandered off.Young CurlewYoung Curlew We had gorgeous views of these chicks and then a green woodpecker flew in and landed in the same field.

Only 18 birds were recorded but the birding encounters were quite special. Tree pipit, meadow pipit and nuthatch were amongst the birds recorded. A buzzard was seen flying low overhead. Some inkcaps were seen growing in a hole quite high up in a tree. Despite a short unplanned extension on the walk at the end of the day we had a very enjoyable outing and we were grateful to Donald for organising it.

Sue

WFV, Asby Inrakes and Augill Pasture, Cumbria, 9th June 2015

View From Augill PastureView From Augill Pasture

Today was a day for the botanists. A fair amount of time was spent on our knees, lenses at the ready to have a close look at the plants.

We timed today's trip to Asby Inrakes (and Outrakes - but I don't think we entered this field), a small site west of Kirkby Stephen, hoping to see the Small White Orchid. The place wasn't immediately recognisable to John; when he previously visited this rough pasture it had been covered in a range of orchids that weren’t evident today.Birds Eye PrimroseBirds Eye Primrose Despite our outriders crisscrossing the tussocky ground there was no sign of the Small White Orchid. Once again we commented on plants being late this year.

However there were other flowers to attract our attention. The Birds-eye Primrose were lovely, a few Early Purple Orchids were still vibrant and there was plenty of Water Avens. There were groups of Marsh Valerian, and we were able to identify the difference between the male and female plants, the latter having both a smaller flower head and notably smaller florets. 

Amongst the 38 species recorded in flower other notable recordings were Common Milkwort, Bitter Vetch and Lousewort.

As we were leaving there were a couple of other people hunting for the Small White Orchid. A friendly wave goodbye from them almost caused us to bail out of the van in excitement, but we will have to return another time if we want to see this flower.

We then had a relatively short journey, via the toilets in Brough, to Augill Pasture. This is a small site with a fair amount of history.An Attractive Buttercup To Micropterix CalthellaAn Attractive Buttercup To Micropterix Calthella A medieval track, a Roman sentry post, a lead smelting mill from 1820’s and a modern day protest that prevented the A66 being driven through it, resulting in it becoming a Plantlife site. 

It is managed by Cumbria Wildlife Trust and is a rare example of an unimproved upland grassland. It is on a small hill, with woodland on the slopes and open grassland on the brow. There seems to be a greater proportion of herbs than grass, which promise a great display later in the year. The primroses were still in flower, as were the bluebells, but there was also signs of the summer flowers starting with Globe Flower and Heath Spotted-orchid.

Overhead were Oystercatcher, Curlew and Lapwing, with a bird count totalling 21.Six Spot Burnet Moth CaterpillarSix Spot Burnet Moth CaterpillarWe had read that Adder’s Tongue-fern grew here, so it was again eyes down looking for a tiny green leaf. Never had so many young Common Twayblade plants caused so much disappointment as they continually raised our hopes in search for this elusive fern! Next year…

We found the rare white form of Bugle, a few diminutive Frog Orchids and a pleasant clump of Herb Paris. In total 68 species of plant in flower and 8 ferns were recorded. We found a striking yellow and black caterpillar which turns out to be a Six-spot burnet moth.  At Augill Bridge we saw a Roe Deer as we arrived and half the group were entertained by a Red Squirrel with reports of somersaults, waving and general showing off! 

It is a long journey to reach these parts so it was pleasing that many flowers were seen in the verges en route and that we were accompanied by Goldfinches and Pied Wagtails as we drove home along Mallerstang. Chips at Bizzies in Skipton was our final stop, with our final leg timed perfectly to avoid road closures at Crosshills by seconds. 

Julia