There had been several cancellations for a variety of reasons so there were only 9 on the minibus and the plan was to meet up with Margaret in her car at the car park closest to Temple Newsam House. However, there are many car parks at Temple Newsam and this caused some confusion. We had made it to Temple Newsam in good time but there was some delay in locating each other; at least the group could buy hot drinks and have a wander round the shop.
With the group united, we took the path south out of Temple Newsam, where there was a lovely display of Few-flowered Leek and a kestrel was seen in flight. After heading through the underpass under the M1 we crossed the road and turned right towards Skelton Lake. This is not the most picturesque or peaceful of reserves. It is a former open cast mine and it has a very urban and noisy feel to it eapecially with the close proximity of the M1. Maddy was particularly troubled by the traffic noise and chose to leave the group and explore quieter avenues. However, this area is still a work in progress being part of the Wyke Beck Valley Project and it is interesting to see how wildlife moves in and thrives when industry moves out. A bridge is being erected over the River Aire which will allow access from Rothwell Park and Woodlesford.
The path took us alongside trees, hedgerows and a small stream before it took us to to Skelton Lake. Most of the birds were very distant but there were some good sightings including lapwing, wigeon, shelduck and a little egret seen flying over the river. We had lunch on a grassy bank overlooking the lake: the weather through the morning and lunch had been cool and blustery and the unseasonable high temperatures at the weekend were now a distant memory. As we continued on our 4 mile walk in the afternoon the sun came out for more extended periods bringing out a few butteflies, mostly male Orange Tip but also one Speckled Wood.
One fern was recorded along with 44 plants in flower, the most notable being Cuckoo Flower, Few Flowered Leek and Spotted Medick which was a first for some of the group. 43 birds were seen including Nuthatch, Long-tailed Tits and Grey Heron.
After regrouping in Temple Newsam courtyard we set off back at 3pm.
Many thanks to Sally for leading and to Robert for co-leading, driving and lugging his telescope around the whole walk.
See the photos here.