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WFV, Eccup Reservoir Bird Safari 2nd February 2016

Willow BracketsWillow BracketsThe Bees group usually obtain some unusual sightings on our Birds Safaris and today's outing was no different. We enjoyed the amazingly colourful sight of five Mandarin drakes and their less colourful partners from the Adel Dam hide. Also the sweeping flight and aerial acrobatics of was it 3,4,or 5 Red Kite at Eccup? The group was somewhat depleted in terms of the original number that had planned to come on the outing however it numbered 14. Our most significant absentee was our photographer Sue. Luckily John produced his camera at the Adel Dam hide.

The group seemed rather reluctant to step outside of the minibus when we arrived at our destination Bank House Farm into the cold blustery conditions outside. We immediately spotted a Red Kite gliding in the sky above. The small birds had taken shelter in the banks and hedgerows however we saw Wood Pigeon and Crow circling around the farm. We travelled along the access road to the water treatment works and on arrival did walks in both directions.The bridle path leading to Harewood House gave us extensive views over the countryside but due to prevailing extremely windy conditions there was little avian life to be seen the exception being a Red Kite.  Conditions were considerably calmer on the downward path to the reservoir. It brightened up on our return and all of a sudden the birds appeared - flocks of Field fare and Redwings in the sky, a pair of Mistle Thrush also Grey Wagtail on the wires and a Heron in the field. Signs of spring were noted including the male and female Hazel catkins.

We departed for Golden Acre Park as promised. Here we lost three of our group who diverted to the cafe while the loyal band of birders followed their leader towards the Adel Dam YWT reserve. Chaffinches and tits were seen, a Jay was heard and then we came upon two red breasted male Bullfinch and a female in a tree. The hide which was full on arrival was an excellent place for lunch. The feeders were fully replaced with nuts and suet attracting a variety of Tits, Nuthatch and Greater Spotted Woodpecker. However the Mandarins were the stars. Three of us ventured to the Lakeside hide to view Heron and Coot. We saw Swan, Mallard, and Tufted duck on the lake on our return to the minibus. The total bird species for the day was 28, plants in flower 6.

By the time we arrived at Caring for Life the enthusiasm for further bird spotting had faded. We had covered considerable ground during the day and were deserving of a treat. Our newest recruits Barbara and Denis appeared to enjoy the Bees experience and people seemed appreciative of the opportunity to have fresh air (in abundance) exercise and company on a rather dreary winter's day. See the photos here.



New Year Social 19th January 2016

20 people gathered at the Unitarian church for our annual social event. Following introductions and food, we enjoyed a review of our year 2015 with presentations from Margaret and Sue. Julia distributed copies of the 2015 Diary. We have Helen to thank for such an attractive and professional document. Some administrative matters were dealt with. Joan concluded by running through suggestions for field visits in the forthcoming year. Unfortunately there was insufficient time for a quiz prepared by John. It was decided to reschedule it to the next indoor meeting on the 16th February. The meeting was enjoyed by those present. Margaret

WFV, Rothwell New Year Walk, 12th January 2016

Rothwell ChurchRothwell Church

For our New Year’s walk this year we ventured to Rothwell in the renowned Rhubarb Triangle for a circular walk of about 4 miles.  The rain in recent weeks had made some of the route quite muddy, especially as we had to cross an open field. A recce on the previous day, however, had resulted in the walk being declared doable and so a party of 14, which included a new member in Maddy's friend Julia, set off in high spirits in dry overhead conditions.

The route took us along an old railway track to the village of Robin Hood before we walked along a short road section and across the open field which brought us to Carlton and a fine lunch spot in the millennium park with bench seats sufficient for all to sit comfortably.  Whilst having our lunch we were treated to a fly-past by a red kite, one of several interesting species of bird that we encountered during the day including sparrowhawk, redwing, bullfinch, mistle trush, and jay amongst more common species.

The way back to our starting point was past rhubarb and brassica fields with the local rhubarb growers preparing for the forthcoming annual rhubarb festival.

Unfortunately illness meant that our botanist presence was significantly reduced and apart from an odd ragwort and a hawthorn in surprisingly early leaf little of botanical interest was noted although we did record a few fungi including jelly ear and blushing bracket.

Morrison’s, who had provided toilet facilities before departure were rewarded with our custom after the walk for cups of tea and buns which rounded off an interesting walk in unusual territory and a successful start to the 2016 BEES season, despite the mud!

Many thanks to driver Sue and good luck with your appeal against the parking ticket!

See more of today's pics here



WFV, Shibden Park (Mystery Outing), 1st Dec 2015

Shibden HallShibden Hall

Our annual mystery trip was not as well attended as usual but health problems had forced the withdrawal of our original leader and then two subsequent proposed leaders. We wish them well. 

Stuart took on the mantle of leadership although Sally became an honorary guide on the day as she had good knowledge of Shibden Park. The original plan for the day was to do a walk of approximately 4 miles through parkland, woodland and fields but heavy prolonged rainfall in recent weeks made this impossible. Besides, the weather on the day was not the most inviting and we opted to just have a stroll around the park. A circuit of the lake gave excellent views of a grey heron which actually stood in one of the paddle boats for a time. Not a sight I've seen before. There was a strange looking duck of uncetain provenance, probably a hybrid. We then headed towards the hall, taking the tunnel under the road to reach Cunnery Wood where we had lunch. Birds were thin on the ground......and in the trees! We did note long-tailed tits, jay, green woodpecker, nuthatch and goldfinch. We saw several interesting fungi including olive oysterling, dead moll's fingers and exidia nucleata. 

By lunchtime the rain had started and the attraction of the cafe was growing. En route to the cafe we passed through an area bordered by dry stone walls with various features and information boards with explanations of these features. There was also a very impressive wooden eagle sculpture close to the entrance road to the park. The majority of the group had hot drinks in the cafe before we left in the early afternoon and were dropped off just in time for me to catch the latest episode of the Archers. Thanks to Robert for driving.  Photos from today can be seen here.


WFV, Roundhay Park 17 November 2015


Storm Barney was on its way. Rain and winds were predicted for the afternoon. As we drove away from the Mansion House car park around 2pm it was raining hard with considerable surface water on the road. I trust everyone got home safely. Not withstanding the Bees group numbering 11 was able to enjoy a late autumnal walk in cloudy conditions with some drizzle. As Mary commented she said she had found the walk "atmospheric".

Our route involved the perimeter of the Upper Lake onto Castle Folly then a gentle ascent/descent of the Gorge followed by a walk around Waterloo Lake onward to our mecca -the Lakeside café. We returned to the minibus via Barren's Fountain. Roundhay Park was originally built as the country estate of Thomas Nicholson between 1811 and 1819. It was sold to the City of Leeds in 1871 and has developed as a well loved public park with a variety of attractions.

The subjects of natural history interest included geological, fungi, ferns,trees and birding interest. On our Gorge walk we saw exposures of the shale deposits where the beck had cut its way through also a spring where the shale and sandstone rocks met. Fungi species were still very much in evidence on account of the lack of a frost to date. Of particular note was the White Saddle fungus also Dead Moll's Fingers. Other species included Stump Puffball, Ganodermas, Oak Milkcap, Smokey Bracket, Blushing Bracket, Hairy Curtain Crust, Birch Bracket, Candlesnuff, Jelly Ear and Turkeytail. The fern species included Hart's Tongue Fern and Hard Fern. The ground was a carpet of the leaves of Oak, Sycamore, Elder and Birch. The birds recorded totalled 22 and varied from woodland birds such as Jay and Robin to a bird of prey -a Buzzard and a varied collection of geese, swans, gulls and ducks on the two lakes. They included Goosander, Tufted Duck, Teal, Pochard and Cormorant.

The venue and walk was a wise choice and appreciated by the group. Thanks go to Vera for her support in leading the walk.

View images from today in the gallery


WFV, Strid Woods, 3rd November 2015

Autumn TintsAutumn Tints

Not a bad day, weather wise; cloudy and still with a damp feel but not particularly cold. A good job we hadn’t gone the day before, otherwise we would have struggled to see much in the fog that covered most of the north and had led to many air flights being cancelled.

The participants of the day were collected along the route at locations such as The Branch car-park, Cottingley and Keighley, the driver of the day being Robert. Toilet facilities are available at the Cavendish Pavilion although Robert decided to make his own arrangements!

Before setting off I decided to treat myself to a bacon barm plus coffee. For only £4.95 you get a large Americano plus as good a bacon barm as you will find anywhere; I consider myself knowledgeable in such matters!  Lichen RhizocarponLichen Rhizocarpon I only managed to eat half of it and gulped down the coffee as I didn’t want to lose track of the group. I soon, however, caught up with those whose interests include botany and mycology; the rest of the group were way out of sight.

A total of 31 plants in flower were recorded by Alice and this included Burnet Saxifrage, Betony and Harebell. The bird count provided by Donald was only 21, as of course all the migrants for which this wood is famous, have long since departed. Best birds seen were Kingfisher, Partridge and Dipper.

Early November is still good for fungi and Joan, Stuart and I remained adrift from the rest of the group till we all met up at the aqueduct for lunch; where I finished off my barm! We three, plus Eric and Alice who were botanising, made slow progress as there were a good number of logs and stumps to investigate alongside the main path. There was far too much leaf litter on the ground to see any boletes, russulas or milkcaps. We did however find a good number of crusts and bracket fungi. Species identified included: Jelly Rot, Lumpy Bracket, Purplepore Bracket, Blackfoot Polypore, Black Bulgar, Rooting Shank,Purple JellydiscPurple Jellydisc

Fly Agaric, Shaggy Parasol, Stump Puffballs, Glistening Inkcaps, Sheathed Woodtuft and several Mycenas including one exquisite tiny white one, possibly one of the Hemimycena family; several others remained unidentified.After afternoon refreshments at the pavilion we headed back. The return journey was uneventful until after we dropped off Janet. She had picked up the wrong rucksack but fortunately we got the request to go back and remedy the matter before we had travelled too far!

Another good trip and thanks to our leaders Maddie and Alice. See pictures in the gallery here. 


John Gavaghan   

WFV, Judy Woods, 20th October 2015

Sunshine Through The MistSunshine Through The MistWe didn’t have to travel very far for today’s outing – only as far as the Bradford/Calderdale boundary and Judy Woods for a day’s fungi hunting.


The recent dry weather has not provided ideal conditions for fungi to thrive but thankfully the many fallen trees in Judy Woods provided us with a good selection of specimens – and two species not previously recorded at this site. A fine bright autumn day saw a party of nine leave Bradford in the minibus to be joined by an additional nine waiting at Station Road in Wyke where we started our walk, led today by Sally, one of a number of BEES members who also belong to the Friends of Judy Woods group.

Deer ShieldDeer ShieldJoan immediately spotted a fallen tree in the beck which tempted half the party down a difficult slope to join her and they spent a good fifteen minutes identifying its offerings. This set the pace for the day – BEES slow. We made our way from fallen tree to fallen tree and by lunchtime, two hours later, we had covered the best part of half a mile. Some of the party had even reached Judy Bridge where we lunched in bright sunshine and where we were lucky to see the only butterfly species of the day – Speckled Wood.

Young BoleteYoung BoleteWe continued after lunch in pursuit of the Old Man of the Woods which occasionally makes its appearance, but 2015 seems not to be a year for this fungus. Making our way at a slightly faster pace we arrived back at the bus having recorded thirteen bird species and thirty two different fungi, the highlights of which were the two new species for the site – Porcelain Fungus and White Domecap - as well as a good selection of Ganodermas, Russulas and Crusts amongst others.

Given the recent dry weather, we were pleasantly surprised by the variety of fungi on display and so it was a contented party that dispersed in mid-afternoon.

Thanks to Sally for her organisation and leadership and to Sue for her driving. See photos from today here. 


WFV, Adwick Washlands & Old Moor RSPB Reserve, 6th October 2015

Willow SculptureWillow SculptureThe Bees good luck has returned! What a relief! We enjoyed warm temperatures, clear skies, sunny intervals and good light for our outing to Adwick Washlands and Old Moor Reserve today. Adwick Washlands was a new venture and provided some navigational challenges but also for John and Sue a birding triumph.!

The Washlands are an area of wetland with several large lakes situated in the flood plain of the River Dearne. It is managed by the RSPB and is attractive to ducks, geese and waders. We crossed paths with several "twitchers"returning from a spot of a rare North American vagrant- the Pectoral Sandpiper. Both John and Sue were smitten and went in hot pursuit. They were given considerable help by other birders who had telescopes trained on the little brown job feeding in the company of two Ruff.RuffRuff The remainder of the party of 10 enjoyed watching a large group of Goldfinch flying between the reeds and the nearby trees before following a route on top of a bund (with excellent views) back to the car park.

The remainder of the day we spent at the Old Moor Reserve, enjoying birds, butterflies, dragonflies, flowers and shrubs in fruit and the cafe.The bird count was 50, plants in flower or fruit 77, (Old Moor), dragonflies 4, butterflies 5. There were good numbers of Teal, Gadwall, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Mute Swans and Heron. A Kingfisher was seen on a perch. The most interesting hide was the Wath Ings hide where a large flock of Golden Plover and Lapwing had gathered. I was looking forward to seeing the "goldies" in flight following a disturbance by a bird of prey however they stood stationary visit. Several Green sandpipers were seen. A Great White Egret (rare in the UK) was seen fishing from the Fieldpool East hide.

Mute SwanMute Swan There are several dragonfly ponds and species seen included Common Darter,Common and Migrant Hawker and Common Blue Damsel Fly. Butterflies included a White at Adwick, Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood and Holly Blue.The hedgerows were dripping with berries and fruit. There was a superabundance of seed heads of flowers such as Figwort and Knapweed. No doubt these will be stripped as the forthcoming winter descends but what a supply of grub for the birds!

Tuesday was a pleasant day out with a lot of interest for our group. Thank you for your company and support.


See more photos from today's trip here.

WFV,Ripley Castle Grounds, 22nd September 2015

Ripley CastleRipley CastleOur day out at Ripley Castle turned out much better than expected. Following a cloudy start we experienced periods of warm sunshine. There had been downpours of rain elsewhere. Our group of 12 followed a variety of options. Brian and Jean enjoyed a leisurely stroll around the gardens followed by lunch, tea and ice cream! Helen opted for an historical tour of the castle. Marilyn and Lorna explored the kitchen garden and herbaceous borders. The majority of the party enjoyed a circular walk around the lake taking in some superb vistas of the lake and castle and views of a herd of Fallow deer but more especially views of the ancient trees - FungusFungusOak and Sweet Chestnut for which the park is famed. Some extraordinary photos of fungi and other species were taken by Sue.

All seemed quiet on the avian scene with 16 records. A family of Goldcrest had evoked delight prior to our walk. Other birds seen included Greylag Geese on the lake and grassland, Heron in the trees, House martins around the castle and a Red Kite overhead.

Alice recorded 6 fern species and 108 plant species, of which 94 had flowers and the rest were in fruitRed AdmiralRed AdmiralThe special plants included Nodding Bur Marigold, Common Skullcap, Marsh Woundwort, Water Pepper and Fairy Foxglove growing on the walls below the castle. The herbaceous borders of the walled garden were a riot of floral colour and also the venue of 5 species of butterfly dancing among the flowers when the sun shone. They included Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Comma and Speckled Wood. The kitchen garden contained an interesting variety of fruit trees, vegetables, herbs, knot garden and wild flower meadow. September is a delightful month and it was our good fortune with the weather that allowed us to enjoy our visit to the full.


WFV, Blacktoft Sands RSPB Reserve, 8th September 2015

Leaving Bradford in the mist and heading towards the East coast isn’t usually aBlack Tailed GodwitBlack Tailed Godwit prelude to a fine day out but that’s where we were going as we set off on our trip to Blacktoft Sands RSPB reserve. Surprise, surprise, it grew brighter as we drove along and the weather continued to improve throughout the day and by lunchtime the sun had broken through and we enjoyed a fine afternoon.

It’s been a good year at Blacktoft, England’s largest area of tidal reedbed, with breeding avocets, bearded tits, bitterns and marsh harriers and the UK’s rarest breeding bird of prey - Montagu’s harrier, so there was plenty to look forward to. Recent high tides had resulted in the water levels on the reserve being unusually high which are not the conditions which attract many waders and this time of year is not the best for duck spotting as most are in eclipse, so we saw rather a lot of brown ducks and only a few waders. However, once we got our eyes in we were able to distinguish most of the ducks and we were pleased to see snipe, lapwing, redshank, curlew, little egret and perhaps the day’s highlight, black-tailed godwits as well as a skulking water rail. From time to time throughout the day a hunting marsh harrier would spook the ducks and a kestrel hovered over the reeds. A total of 30 bird species was recorded including tree sparrows which are attracted to the feeders on the approach to the cosy (log fire) visitor centre.

HoverflyHoverfly The botanists were especially interested in seeing the marsh sow-thistle, a species found on only a few sites in Britain. When Joan first recorded this plant at Blacktoft in 1998, there were just six plants on the reserve. It has spread so much during the intervening period that counting is now done by clump rather than by individual plant – a spectacular success story. In all 74 species of plants were noted either in flower or fruit by our eagle-eyed recorders. Small TortoiseshellSmall Tortoiseshell As the day warmed up butterflies started to appear; first of all, as usual, a speckled wood which was followed by peacock, small tortoiseshell and small and green-veined white. Dragonflies were also about in the form of common darter and migrant hawker and John also recorded silver Y and angle shades moths as well as a buff ermine moth caterpillar.

So our time passed surprisingly quickly and we returned to Bradford a happy bunch in time to miss the rush hour traffic thanks to our drivers for the day, Sue and Robert.