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WFV, Chellow Dene and Northcliffe Woods, 19th May 2015

Chellow DeneChellow DeneA very small group of only 7 in the bus met up with 3 who had travelled by car for this week's local trip to Chellow Dene. When we arrived at the end of Chellow Lane the heavens opened with a heavy hail shower. As we sat and waited for it to pass we saw Lorna approaching the bus; she had arrived early by car and had already started exploring Chellow Dene.She was dripping wet. She took refuge in the bus with the rest of the group. Once the shower had passed we headed round Chellow Dene. One of the botanical quests was to locate rusty backed fern. It was thought that it may only be found on the far side of the reservoir wall but we saw it on a wall close to the entrance to the reservoir.

We endured heavy showers scattered with bright spells as we did a circuit of the lower and upper reservoirs. Birding was unremarkable apart from sightings of great crested grebes with beautiful young grebes and a coot family with not so beautiful coot chicks. A solitary green veined white butterfly was seen.

The botanists were interested to see that the large bittercress had extended its range. Bitter vetch and greater woodrush were recorded. Ferns of note included black spleenwort and scaly male. Are You Still There?Are You Still There? We had planned to have lunch in the bus if wet or outside if dry and then to call at Morrisons for a toilet stop, but we were delighted when Martin invited us to his house to eat our lunch. We were very grateful to Martin and his wife Jan for their hospitality; the hot drinks, biscuits and chocolates were such a treat. We all got rather too comfortable but we did finally get moving again for our second leg of the day; Northcliffe Woods. The woods still had a good display of bluebells and there was quite a number of large leaved avens. Dryads saddle was recorded. The showers persisted as we proceeded through the woods and into the park, heading back close to the allotments. Over the whole day 104 flowers and ferns were recorded. It was a shame about the weather but we kept calm and carried on. Thanks to Joan and Maddy for organising the day.


WFV, Seckar Wood and Sandal Castle, 12th May 2015

HeathlandHeathlandThree late cancellations meant that a party of ten left Bradford in a forecast heavy shower which drifted east with us until we almost reached our destination. After a comfort stop at Newmillerdam where the party increased to eleven we drove the short way to Seckar Wood, an SSSI because of presence of Petty Whin, a gorse-like plant which grows at only one other place in Yorkshire. We located the plants in the dry heath part of the site but were disappointed to find that they had already flowered some time before and we made a note to come back again earlier in the season. We were in time, however, to see the magnificent display of bluebells which was enhanced by swathes of greater stichwort in the woodland area. The wet heath parts of the site were too wet for exploration but Joan did record 49 species of plant in flower and 6 ferns.Green Veined WhiteGreen Veined White It was quite windy but warm enough to tempt 5 species of butterfly onto the wing whilst we were constantly reminded of the season of the year by the songs of many different birds. Blackcap, whitethroat, willow warbler and chiffchaff were the main soloists to the bird chorus.

Whilst we lunched at the old swimming pool in the centre of the wood a kingfisher flew across the water seen only by Robert – the rest of the party had their backs to the show! Other birds seen at this location were yellowhammer, linnet and a wheatear very well spotted by John who also recorded common heath moth. Another comfort stop at Newmillerdam on the way to our next location provided sightings of various water birds and ice creams for many participants before the short journey to Sandal Castle where we were greeted by very strong winds. Sandal CastleSandal CastleWe only had 50 minutes at this site and although the weather continued to be dry with sunny spells, the wind drove most people back to the minibus before the time had elapsed. Two members did undertake the mile or so walk down to Pugney’s Country Park and were rewarded with the sight of scores of swifts wheeling over the water together with a few house and sand martins – a sight well worth the effort. The total bird count for the day was 35. An early return to Bradford ensured that we missed the traffic and so enjoyed another successful day out.


WFV Rougemont Carr, 5th May 2015

RainRain We had a wet start to our walk with light showers and blustery conditions. In the afternoon it brightened up and was sunny on our return to the minibus. Starting from the car park of St Barnabus Church, Weeton we enjoyed a delightful spring walk in the flood plain of the River Wharfe. The objective for the day was to reach the lovely Bluebell wood in an area that had previously been the bailey of the medieval Rougemont Castle called Rougemont Carr. Our first venture was to explore the church yard for plants. Several species of primrose and cowslip were growing as well as one example of the hybrid false oxlip - a great botanical start! Our leader Margaret had some walking difficulties and after an initial briefing decided to drive down the lane - the party of 12 followed.BluebellsBluebellsThe hedgerows consisting of wild apple and hawthorn and the verges were covered in an attractive array of spring flowers - Violets, Stichwort, Lord and Ladies, Celandines, Red campion and Bluebells. The path led us across fields and an ancient pack horse bridge then uphill into the woodland. We were greeted by a sea of deep blue Bluebells.

Following lunch we explored the woodland further walking to the northern perimeter where the bank and ditch formation of the outer bailey could clearly be seen. Returning along the public footpaths we sauntered by a field of rape and found the path which led us down to the riverside. Some of the flowers we saw here included Barren Strawberry, Few- Flowered Leek and Wood Stichwort.Male YellowhammerMale Yellowhammer The trees included flowering Wych Elm and Bird Cherry. Retracing our steps we stopped to look at a colony of Fiddleneck growing on the slurry adjacent to the sewage plant. 70 species of plants in flower were recorded as well as 4 ferns. The most spectacular bird sighting was the aerial display of three Red kites over the woodland. They are thought to nest in the wood. The wood and hedgerows were full of bird song. Birds seen and heard included Yellowhammer, Goldfinch, Linnet, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Crow, Jackdaw, Pheasant, as well as Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Chiff chaff. Unfortunately there were no butterflies on the wing on this rather cold, dull day. Needless to say the walk was rounded off by a "cuppa" at a nearby cafe.


WFV, Brockadale, 28th April 2015


After an uneventful journey along the M62, our first stop of the day was at Thompson Meadow, a Plantlife Reserve. We were greeted by a bracing wind, but also, more pleasantly, a carpet of Cowslips covering the meadow. The first few Early Purple Orchids were showing, giving an indication of what is to come. Other species seen included Wood Anemone, Bluebells, maybe a False Oxlip (though identification was not definite) and Spring Sedge. There were plenty of violets and we had a lesson to distinguish between different varieties with the conclusion that all the ones we checked were Common Dog Violet. 

Common Dog VioletsCommon Dog VioletsAfter about an hour we returned to the transport (minibus and additional car) and drove around to the other side of the valley to the YWT Brockadale car park. After lunch we headed east along the top of the valley, spotting some lovely Field Pansies at the field edge, and learning that Small Flowered Cranesbill has 10 filaments, but 5 of them are not topped with the anthers that contain the pollen. We also saw Field Mouse-ear at the top of the cliff.

Amongst a little hail, thankfully the only shower we experienced all day, we concluded that the numerous clumps of closed yellow flowers were Spring Cinqufoil, an uncommon plant. In the same area we saw the pungent leaves of Wild Clary, flower spikes just emerging. Although it was much to early to see it in flower, a few of us went a little bit further to see the newly emerging leaves of Wild Liquorice.

The next botanical hunt was for Adder's Tongue Fern. We tried our hardest to get our eyes in to spot a small green fern amongst the grass sward, but unfortunately be were not succesful. Next time maybe.

The wind was strong throughout the day and the number of birds were accordingly few. Whitethroat, Blackcap and Chiff Chaffs were heard and it was great to see a number of Swallows and House Martins flying.Small TortoiseshellSmall Tortoiseshell We saw a few butterflies; Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and an unidentified White.

There are a number of different habitats on the reserve and the return route took us along the valley bottom then up a steep wooded hill onto flatter paths. In a clearing in the woodland we saw a number of Stinking Hellebores and a striking Sloe (or Hairy) Shield Bug. 

Although the weather was distinctly more wintery than last week,  and we didn't get to see the inconspicuous ferns, we enjoyed a lovely visit to this varied reserve, seeing 72 species of plant in flower, plus one fern.

Thanks for having me.





WFV, Ledsham Bank & St Aidans, 21st April 2015

Pasque FlowerPasque Flower

The group of 13 began the day by going to the Ledsham site we had visited on Aug 12th last year. The main purpose was to see the very rare Pasque Flower in bloom. This is a plant now so rare it is only known from 19 sites in the whole of the UK and Ledsham is its most northerly outpost.  In order to protect the plants from being eaten by mammals, such as rabbits, they are protected by cages which of course makes finding them that much easier.

We were successful much to the delight of our botanists (Joan, Alice & Eric) although there was only a single flower and that was very low to the ground. The concensus was the recent dry weather had delayed emergence and it wasn't yet at its maximum height. Dyer's Greenweed, not yet in flower, was growing nearby.

It was a glorious warm and sunny day with nary a cloud in sight. The type of weather we have come to expect! Both Maddie and Vera (late replacements for Janet and Veronica who were not able to make it) were certainly pleased to be out and about with the group on such a day. Unfortunately for June, she got stuck in traffic and had to abandon her attempt to join us. Orange Tips, Small Tortoiseshells and Peacock butterflies were on the wing. Birds seen included Red Kite, Song Thrush and Chiff Chaff. 

We then made our way to the visitor centre at Fairburn Ings which is about 2 miles south of Ledsham. This is where we had our toilet stop and picnic on the outside tables. Robert, one of our regular drivers treated himself to a magnum, so of course I had to follow suit!  A couple of Brimstones were seen plus the regular birds around the feeders such as Tree Sparrows. St AidansSt AidansAfter an hour we departed for our last destination; Swillington Ings/St Aidans.

This is a very large site (previously used for opencast coalmining) situated between Leeds, Castleford and Garforth. It is very exposed to the elements, with no tree cover, except around the perimeter and no hides where refuge could be taken. Basically, don't go there if the forecast is a poor one. We entered the site from the western end which is the one opposite the huge mining machine perched high on the eastern slope.  On the bank by the side of the parking area we were delighted to see Snakeshead Fritillaries.Black Necked GrebeBlack Necked Grebe Presumably garden escapes?

We soon split into two groups; botanists and those who didn't want to walk too far stayed along the top bank. A total of 26 flowering species were recorded by Joan in this area and 42 for the day in total. The birders and walkers did a circular walk making use of the causeway; as a whole perimeter walk would have taken up too much time. Birds seen included: 3 Black-necked Grebes, a solitary Pink-foot Goose (spotted by Robert), Reed Buntings, Wigeon, Pipits, Willow Warblers. and Common Tern. Booming Bitterns were heard. A total of 60 birds for the day. No moths or dragonflies though.

We left the site a little after 15:30 and unlike our last trip got back to base in good time.

A splendid day out with thanks to leader Stuart and driver Sue.

John Gavaghan

WFV, North Cave Wetlands, 31st March 2015

View Of The Turret Hide And Village LakeView Of The Turret Hide And Village LakeAn epic day out. Marilyn and I set out around 8.30 am and returned around 9.45 pm. Others did similarly. We departed from North Cave Wetlands after a successful day out at 2.45 pm to join the tailback of traffic from the Ouse bridge. There had been a traffic accident relative to the high winds that prevailed during the day. It took approximately three hours to cover a short distance of 6 miles. Considerable patience and good humour was displayed by all. It was needed! Our driver Robert was excellent.

New Viewing ScreenNew Viewing Screen Our day out in "birding city" the North Cave Wetlands proved to be most enjoyable, this in spite of the extreme windy conditions. We managed to dodge showers by hopping from one hide to another and were sustained by the produce of the Wild Bird Cafe. We enjoyed lunch in the Turret hide with shelter and good views of the Reserve. We ended our day in the hide built from straw bales. A great variety of birds was seen around the lakes and the ridge and furrow meadow called Dryham Ings. They included good numbers of Black-headed Gulls, Shelduck, Shoveler, Greylag Geese and Mallard. Other ducks included Tufted Duck,Teal, Wigeon, Gadwall and Little Grebe. Great Crested Grebes were seen in courtship mode. The waders included Redshank, Oystercatchers and Ringed Plover. A Kingfisher flew in front of the South Hide overlooking the Main Lake. Brambling, Tree Sparrow, Blue and Great Tits were seen at the feeders. 40 species of bird were recorded.

Mr and Mrs GrebeMr and Mrs Grebe 10 species of flowers were recorded including Red Dead Nettle, Celandine and Coltsfoot.

The Reserve is continuing to develop. A viewing platform and feeders have been constructed near the entrance overlooking the Village Lake. Two composting toilets are now in place. The area of ridge and furrow is proving to be attracting waders as well as geese and ducks. Phase 2 of the development is now complete. Phase 3 will take in the area currently subject to sand and gravel extraction. The birds are certainly pleased to have found a treasure and we feel likewise. A party of 12 enjoyed this day out 3 of which were making their first visit. They were Dorothy, Sally and Vera.


WFV, Morecambe and Hest Bank, 17th March 2015

Group With FriendGroup With FriendEncouraged by good bird sightings on a trip that Gillian & Stuart made to Morecambe last year, our first field visit in March (the Dunham Massey trip having falling victim to the weather) headed for the Lancashire coast for a stroll along the prom. A full minibus arrived to find overcast weather and a low tide but the fresh estuary air encouraged the group onwards. The more hungry soon broke ranks to find additional sustenance whilst the main group lunched traditionally in a seafront shelter on the way to Happy Mount Park. RedshankRedshank

Although the tide was well out, we saw numerous oystercatchers, curlew and redshank as well as different gulls circling overhead. Leaving the group to refresh themselves in the park, Julia returned to our starting place near the fine Eric Morecambe statue to retrieve the minibus in order to convey the group to Hest Bank where we hoped to see more in the way of birdlife. Scopes were necessary to see good flocks of eider out in the estuary as well as the odd godwit and knot. Joan and Alice determinedly sought out what plants were about and eventually recorded 16 species and 3 ferns.War Memorial And Midland HotelWar Memorial And Midland Hotel

The cafe at Hest Bank was a welcome sight for most to take on the necessary fuel to sustain them on the way back to Bradford. More attention to the tide tables would have made the trip more productive, but it was good to get out as a group again for only the second time this year. In Sue's absence in warmer climes it was left to Julia and Robert to share the long drive for which we are most grateful.


Indoor meeting 17th February 2015

Our indoor meeting was well attended with 16 regulars and one guest, Barbara, Margaret's friend. We enjoyed presentations by Julia and John. Julia introduced us to the scenery and wildlife of the Annecy region of South Eastern France. The family have enjoyed camping, cycling and walking in the area over a period of three years. The area is a mixture of towering limestone buttresses, alpine meadows and forests with the enormous Lac d' Annecy at its base.There are no ski lifts in the area so the intrepid family took to climbing the steep paths with even steeper drops, quite amazing! The views of Mt Blanc in the distance were stunning.

The wildlife, including flora, butterflies and insects caught Julia's eye. The flora was typical of alpine meadows and forests including Yellow Gentian, Martagon Lily, Scabious (Julia's visits were in July and August). The butterflies were numerous and included Swallowtail, Scarce Swallowtail, Arran Argus,Small Blue and Grayling.

John took us to the South of England on an orchid hunt to the Swanage area and to Kent.We saw some wonderful images of Early and Late Spider Orchids, Lizard Orchid as well as an unidentified Broomrape.

The afternoon passed quickly and was a most enjoyable occasion. Our gratitude and thanks to those who contributed.


WFV Keighley area Bird Safari 3rd February 2015

Stockbridge ReserveStockbridge ReserveA bright blue sky and low temperatures were experienced for our winter Bird Safari. The first port of call was the Stocksbridge reserve of BOG - Bradford Ornithological Group - where we were greeted by one of their members, John Preshaw. We spent some time looking out onto the partially frozen lake from the hide and later completed a circular walk around the reserve.

Birds seen from the hide included dunnock, tits including long-tailed tits, robin, chaffinch, brambling ( identified by John and Sally) also heron and snipe. A sparrowhawk was later spotted by Joan. On our tour we observed two bullfinches in their colourful plumage also a wren.

On The Leeds Liverpool CanalOn The Leeds Liverpool CanalWe later found our way onto the towpath of the Leeds & Liverpool canal. An armada of mallard greeted us as well as a single female goosander. The canal walk which afforded excellent views of the snow-covered tops was not as productive as anticipated as much of the canal was frozen, however long-tailed tits and redwing were seen in the surrounding vegetation and fields. A kestrel was seen flying above the River Aire while awaiting the arrival of the minibus to take us to Cliffe Castle museum.

GoosanderGoosander Following lunch in the conservatory and a piece of Janet's delicious cake, the party split into two groups. One group took a tour of the gardens led by Janet while those who preferred warmth stayed in the museum. A total of 27 species of bird were recorded and 9 species of plants in flower. There were signs that spring was round the corner in the form of flowering hazel, gorse, dogs mercury and snowdrops. There were 9 participants for this outing.

Thanks go to Robert, Margaret and Janet for organising this safari.


New Year Social, 20th January 2015

Around 19 of us gathered for our post-festive celebration to enjoy food, memories of the past Bees year and thoughts about future Bees outings.The afternoon was rounded off by a light-hearted quiz devised by John. Thanks to all who took part especially Marg and Dania whose efforts ensured we were well looked after. We look forward to a good Bees year ahead.