John 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.