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

WFV, Paris, 23/1/2018

Submitted by Wildlife Field… on Tue, 30th Jan 2018, 10:31am

Peacock ButterflyPeacock ButterflyThe weather was fine and sunny and we were treated to a host of good bird sightings.  See photos here.



Culture And NatureCulture And NatureLast Wednesday we flew over to Paris.  Lucky us.

We saw lots of French people, some birds and some other assorted wildlife. See photos here

View From The Hide At Adel DamView From The Hide At Adel Dam 


Lady's Slipper: Lady's slipperLady's Slipper: Lady's slipperP.S. this is a false blog, that was set up as part of the training session, and is being left live for the moment so people can practice!!

And just to be clear - no one missed out on a secret trip to Paris...

 See photos here.

New Year Social 2018

Submitted by Wildlife Field… on Wed, 24th Jan 2018, 5:54am

Today's New Year Social took a different form from the usual. We started with a lovely buffet meal followed by John's tantalising quiz. Julia presented the review of 2017 showing us images of the birds, flowers, reptiles and plants we had seen over the course of the year. Finally Alice led a discusssion on proposals for the summer programme for 2018 which will be taken forward in our next planning meeting. A successful and relaxing afternoon enjoyed by 15 members of the group. Margaret

WFV, New Year's Walk Foulridge, 9th Jan 2018

Submitted by Wildlife Field… on Wed, 10th Jan 2018, 10:06am

Along The TowpathAlong The TowpathAfter a festive season plagued by ill-health for many, exercise and fresh air were appealing. The mini-bus was more reluctant but was coaxed into compliance by Stuart and Julia and we set off on a still and murky morning for Lancashire. Ten members enjoyed the walk along the Leeds/ Liverpool Canal towpath between Foulbridge and Salterforth. Although cold it was dry and the footpath metalled instead of the muddy track some were expecting.

Being January wildlife was mostly quiescent yet even so stately tree silhouettes and tree reflections dominated the scene. While remnants of autumn remained on some ash and hawthorn twigs the new season's buds were swelling and early flowers, male, were seen on hazel. After much searching four other species with flowers were seen; the most surprising was one perfect example of Sticky Mouse-ear (normal flowering 4-10). Three fern species were recorded with Hart's Tongue in largest number. This had also colonised the inside walls of a disused lime kiln. The lime had been needed for mortar in the building of the Foulridge tunnel where liverworts flourished at the entrance. Mosses clothed the fieldside walls and in the spaces lichen were well represented. For some members the anastomosis of branches on an ash tree was a new sight. Velvet Shank, a common winter fungus, was seen and Coral spot.

On arrival we were greeted by mallard, mute swans and a pied wagtail. A heron was seen. Nine other birds were recorded although very few of any type. No visitors at the picnic table where five hardy souls ate lunch suggested that the birds too were feeling the cold. The other five chose the warmth of the pub and hot drinks as sustenance. For B.E.E.S this was a new venue. With a cafe at one end and a pub at the other it was ideally suited to our needs in January. Thanks to John for the suggestion and for leading. A return visit at a later date was proposed. Thanks to Stuart we crossed and returned over the county boundary safely. This must be a good omen for the coming year! See photo here.


WFV 28th November "Mystery" trip, Lotherton Hall and parkland

Submitted by Wildlife Field… on Wed, 29th Nov 2017, 9:32am

LichenLichenOur outing today contained lots of surprises and mystery! The venue was Lotherton Hall and parkland, home to the Gascoigne family and now owned by Leeds City Council. The council has made a considerable effort in transforming the Hall and gardens into a Christmas attraction for families.

Our group of 16 started with a walk to the deer viewing hide and adjacent bird viewing area. There were good views of a Red deer stag and his harem from our path however the deer viewing hide was a disappointment as was the bird viewing area (not any nuts and seed in the feeders). We continued our perimeter walk along a green lane with mixed, laid hedgerows in both sides. Julia and her friends were able to identify a variety of small birds including robin, chaffinch, bullfinch, greenfinch, coal and blue tits. The party crossed an orchard of 100 trees. This was where Maddy started foraging for windfalls. The group had split by this time (what a surprise!). A small group visited the Wildlife Area and Bird Garden, the Humbolt penguins having been recently introduced as a top attraction. Julia's group amused themselves on the 12 Days Woodland Walk.

  In the afternoon some of us choose to visit the House which was decorated with Christmas trees, cards and Christmas fare. There was a very personal touch to the decorations. Julia's group choose to spend time in the arboretum and gardens sprucing up their winter tree identification skills. Lady Gascoigne was a supporter of the plant hunters and the garden contains several exotic species. All in all this was a relaxed and entertaining day out enjoyed by the group in fairly pleasant weather conditions. 4 species were seen in flower by Alice also 2 ferns. 2 fungi species were identified by John.

 The majority of the group proceeded to St Aidans with thoughts of seeing a short eared owl. Sadly they were disappointed and retreated to the visitor centre after a 35 minute search due to the cold weather conditions. They were seen there 5 weeks ago and are likely to return.

 Thanks to Julia for driving and hopefully some pics also Marilyn and John for their help. Link to gallery


WFV Rodley Nature Reserve 14th Nov 2017

Submitted by Wildlife Field… on Wed, 15th Nov 2017, 11:34am

Sorbus speciesSorbus speciesWhy do I enjoy a visit to Rodley Nature Reserve in late autumn? Several reasons - the varied colours of the trees, grasses, berries and lichens, the birds that are attracted to the reserve as a comfortable winter home, the welcome from the reserve's officers and the conviviality engendered on our visits. All these ingredients were present on our visit today. We began with tea/coffee and a mince pie in the Visitors Centre. Peter Murphy gave us an overview of developments on the reserve over the last two years which included the construction of two new steel hides with wheelchair access, the removal of old reed growth to create a younger reed bed more attractive to birds (not without considerable trauma), the development of Poplar fields as area of future woodland, an additional hide overlooking the Managers garden and considerable remedial work completed by volunteers following the flooding in 2015.

The work completed by volunteers on the reserve was impressive with Julia and her band lending a hand from time to time. However there is considerable concern with regard to the proposals contained in the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme which if they are accepted would mean that flood water could cover much of the reserve coming as far as the Visitor Centre. Much of the work and amenities of the reserve which is both an environmental and community resource would be put in jeopardy. We enjoyed a tour of the reserve in the morning accompanied by Peter and Barbara.

The bird life of the lagoons included Gadwall( increasing numbers), Tufted Duck( not doing so well), Wigeon, Shoveler, Little Grebe, Mallard ,Snipe, Coot and Moor "Water " Hen. Black headed Gulls were seen in good numbers with a scattering of Common Gulls. Numerous Herons were seen during the course of the day as well as Little Egret. Peter and Barbara reported sightings of four Water Rail from the Reed bed hide early morning. It was our afternoon task to track them down however we were unsuccessful. Numerous woodland birds were seen during our visit including a friendly Robin, Great, Blue and Long Tailed Tits, Bullfinch , Chaffinch, Reed Bunting, Jay and Wren. A flock of Linnets were admired circling over Tom's Field. Grey partridge were observed by the roadside on arrival at the Visitor Centre. There were a good number of both Grey lag and Canada Geese grazing in the fields. Alice recorded 27 plants in flower including White Heliotrope and Crown Vetch.

There were nine participants on today's trip arranged by Margaret with Marilyn backing up in the café. Our thanks go to Peter and Barbara Murphy for an enjoyable visit in pleasant and mild weather conditions.


WFV, Haw Park Wood, 31st Oct 2017

Submitted by Wildlife Field… on Sun, 5th Nov 2017, 12:43pm

Clavulinopsis sp.Clavulinopsis sp.We last visited this woodland, which lies adjacent to Angler's Country Park (4 miles SE of Wakefield), six years ago. The variety and quantity of fungi we discovered that day had left such an impression on Maddie she was most keen for the group to return again. During the planning process we picked a date closest to our 2011 visit that we believed maximised our chances of seeing the greatest numbers of fungi. 

The weather was fine all day, cloudy but not cold, occasional periods of sunshine and a gentle breeze. We decided on a circular walk following the red trail. It soon became apparent that the volumes of fungi were way below our expectations. Whether this was due to the season starting earlier than normal (early August) or other factors who knows? The most notable absentees were the Fly Agarics; with only one washed out specimen being found. There was a very large one but that was made of wood! By the end of the day however the group still amassed a total of at least 20 species which was pleasing;

The most striking find was a Red-cracking Bolete in excellent condition though both Joan and I made a troop of Red-leg Toughshanks our favourite as we had never seen this species before. Other finds were:

Sulphur Tuft, Turkeytail, Candlesnuff, Butter Cap, Birch Polypore, Amethyst Deceiver, Hare'sfoot Inkcap, Common Rustgill, Ganoderma sp, Common Puffball, Hairy Curtain Crust, Melanoleuca sp, Cortinarius sp, Clitocybe sp, Yellow Fan/club sp 

Not many birds to be seen though Stuart did come across a Woodcock! Several mixed flocks were encountered but they were always high up in the conifers and the poor light made identification very difficult. Grey Wagtails, Jays and Robins were spotted and a few of us were treated to good sightings of a small rodent, most likely a Wood Mouse. Unsurprisingly no one saw any butterflies, moths or dragonflies. Our botanists recorded 30 flowering plants but no rarities.

Lunch for Stuart, Sue, Maddie and myself was taken in an open glade on fungi bedecked seats hewn from fallen logs. Robert, who had forgotten to bring his flask elected to head back to the cafe for his 'snap'!  Strangely the remainder of the group chose to have theirs in a gloomy section of the wood less than 100 yards away? and were uncomfortably seated on actual logs or even on the damp grass! 

Thanks go to the joint drivers Stuart and Julia. It was heartening to have Robert back with the group after his operation and all clear and as a bonus he treated us all to sight of his 3 operational scars! A good job they were on his chest and not elsewhere!!

John Gavaghan