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WFV, Grass Wood and Bastow Wood, 16th June 2015

Mountain PansiesMountain PansiesIt was nice to have a new participant with us on this week's trip. After a stop off at the main car park in Grassington we parked up at the small quarry car park alongside Grass Wood nature reserve. Donald led us on a walk of approximately 3 miles. There were plenty of wood and water avens and the hybridised plants and there was a splendid swathe of wild garlic. 93 flowering plants and 7 ferns were noted including lily of the valley, mountain pansy and bloody cranesbill. It was a dry day with some sun breaking through and we did see green veined white and small heath butterflies. As we had lunch in Grass Wood I fear some bugs took the opportunity to feast on us. Soldier BeetleSoldier Beetle

When we headed into Bastow Wood some of the group were fortunate to see a hedgehog ambling across the path. There were beautiful views form the more open terrain here. We retraced our steps back to Grass Wood and then skirted the periphery.In a neighbouring field a noisy curlew alerted us to its presence and then we realised it was calling to its two youngsters that had wandered off.Young CurlewYoung Curlew We had gorgeous views of these chicks and then a green woodpecker flew in and landed in the same field.

Only 18 birds were recorded but the birding encounters were quite special. Tree pipit, meadow pipit and nuthatch were amongst the birds recorded. A buzzard was seen flying low overhead. Some inkcaps were seen growing in a hole quite high up in a tree. Despite a short unplanned extension on the walk at the end of the day we had a very enjoyable outing and we were grateful to Donald for organising it.


WFV, Asby Inrakes and Augill Pasture, Cumbria, 9th June 2015

View From Augill PastureView From Augill Pasture

Today was a day for the botanists. A fair amount of time was spent on our knees, lenses at the ready to have a close look at the plants.

We timed today's trip to Asby Inrakes (and Outrakes - but I don't think we entered this field), a small site west of Kirkby Stephen, hoping to see the Small White Orchid. The place wasn't immediately recognisable to John; when he previously visited this rough pasture it had been covered in a range of orchids that weren’t evident today.Birds Eye PrimroseBirds Eye Primrose Despite our outriders crisscrossing the tussocky ground there was no sign of the Small White Orchid. Once again we commented on plants being late this year.

However there were other flowers to attract our attention. The Birds-eye Primrose were lovely, a few Early Purple Orchids were still vibrant and there was plenty of Water Avens. There were groups of Marsh Valerian, and we were able to identify the difference between the male and female plants, the latter having both a smaller flower head and notably smaller florets. 

Amongst the 38 species recorded in flower other notable recordings were Common Milkwort, Bitter Vetch and Lousewort.

As we were leaving there were a couple of other people hunting for the Small White Orchid. A friendly wave goodbye from them almost caused us to bail out of the van in excitement, but we will have to return another time if we want to see this flower.

We then had a relatively short journey, via the toilets in Brough, to Augill Pasture. This is a small site with a fair amount of history.An Attractive Buttercup To Micropterix CalthellaAn Attractive Buttercup To Micropterix Calthella A medieval track, a Roman sentry post, a lead smelting mill from 1820’s and a modern day protest that prevented the A66 being driven through it, resulting in it becoming a Plantlife site. 

It is managed by Cumbria Wildlife Trust and is a rare example of an unimproved upland grassland. It is on a small hill, with woodland on the slopes and open grassland on the brow. There seems to be a greater proportion of herbs than grass, which promise a great display later in the year. The primroses were still in flower, as were the bluebells, but there was also signs of the summer flowers starting with Globe Flower and Heath Spotted-orchid.

Overhead were Oystercatcher, Curlew and Lapwing, with a bird count totalling 21.Six Spot Burnet Moth CaterpillarSix Spot Burnet Moth CaterpillarWe had read that Adder’s Tongue-fern grew here, so it was again eyes down looking for a tiny green leaf. Never had so many young Common Twayblade plants caused so much disappointment as they continually raised our hopes in search for this elusive fern! Next year…

We found the rare white form of Bugle, a few diminutive Frog Orchids and a pleasant clump of Herb Paris. In total 68 species of plant in flower and 8 ferns were recorded. We found a striking yellow and black caterpillar which turns out to be a Six-spot burnet moth.  At Augill Bridge we saw a Roe Deer as we arrived and half the group were entertained by a Red Squirrel with reports of somersaults, waving and general showing off! 

It is a long journey to reach these parts so it was pleasing that many flowers were seen in the verges en route and that we were accompanied by Goldfinches and Pied Wagtails as we drove home along Mallerstang. Chips at Bizzies in Skipton was our final stop, with our final leg timed perfectly to avoid road closures at Crosshills by seconds. 



WFV, Quarry Moor Nature Reserve & Burton Leonard Limestone Quarry, 2nd June 2015

Thistle BroomrapeThistle BroomrapeToday's outing was very much a botanical sortie led by Eric and Joan. Our first port of call was the grassland of Quarry Moor Nature Reserve on the outskirts of Ripon. The site was based on magnesian limestone (an exposure can be seen) and boasts a great variety of plants. Management of the site is of importance to encourage flowers and prevent the spread of grasses and shrubs. This was in evidence. Hebridean sheep and rabbits graze the site and volunteers are involved in scrub clearance. From the botanical viewpoint it felt very much mid season between spring (the primroses and cowslips would have provided a colourful yellow carpet) and summer with its plethora of flowers. We saw a great many spikes of the Yorkshire specialty, Thistle Broomrape, whilst Bugle, Russian Comfrey, Guelder Rose and Speedwell were at their best. There was evidence of St John's Wort, Meadow Cranesbill and many more plants. Despite the cold weather of late 75 plants were recorded in flower.

On The Lane To Burton Leonard Lime QuarryOn The Lane To Burton Leonard Lime Quarry Following lunch taken in a variety of places we made our way to Burton Leonard limestone quarry. We experienced squally showers en route and extremely windy conditions interspersed with periods of calm and sunshine towards the end of the day. The limestone grassland was a treasure trove of plants. Twayblade, an early flowering orchid, was present in considerable numbers. The hillside was covered in Burnet Rose with one or two flowers emerging.Common Spotted OrchidCommon Spotted Orchid The Common Spotted orchids were just starting to flower. Other notable plants included Salad Burnet, Dog's Mercury, Hoary Rock Cress, Quaking Grass but no Rock Rose. 70 flowering plants were recorded on this site. The birds, although present evidenced by bird song, were not easy to identify as they made their short flights between bushes and trees in extremely windy conditions. 17 bird species were recorded including Swift, Dunnock,and Goldfinch. Alas no butterflies!

We returned to the picturesque village of Burton Leonard down a country road lined with Cow Parsley with vistas of the rich agricultural grassland of North Yorkshire.

A satisfying day out enjoyed by a party of 12. Thanks to Sue for driving and Joan and Eric for leading our walks.


WFV, Gaitbarrows NNR, Silverdale, 26th May 2015


The mini-bus was full for our trip to see the site’s famous Lady Slipper Orchids.  Despite the weather forecasts to the contrary, we enjoyed warm sunshine throughout the day.  We were therefore lucky enough to also see all the special spring butterflies and day-flying moths that this special site is renowned for.

We began by following the way-marked trail that led us to the orchids.Lady's Slipper OrchidLady's Slipper Orchid This is the only public site of the 20 or so other sites where this orchid was re-introduced by the Kew Gardens Special Projects team.  En route we saw Herb Paris, Speckled Yellow Moths, Brimstone butterflies and the wonderfully iridescent green Rosechafer beetle. Probably due to the recent cold, dry weather many of the plants were not yet in full flower. Fortunately there were more than enough in fresh bloom to excite the group and numerous excellent pictures were obtained. The site warden Rob Petley-Jones was on hand and he informed us that the other notable plant ‘Angular Solomon’s Seal’ was not yet in flower.

Lunch was taken in the vicinity of the orchids. During this time we were treated to sightings of Green Hairstreak, Brimstones (male and female), Dingy Skippers and many of the attractive micro moths Pyrausta purpularis,cingulata and ostrinalis.  Purpularis and cingulata have recently been given common names ‘Purple pyrausta’ and ‘Girdled pyrausta’.  Ostrinalis is scarcer than the other two and has very similar upperwings to purpularis. I was, however, able to photograph the underside of one which looked a likely candidate, and was thus pleased to later confirm that it was in fact ostrinalisPearl Bordered FritillaryPearl Bordered Fritillary .

After this we travelled slowly along a nearby trail to search for the two nationally rare butterflies we had not yet seen.  The vanguard soon found the Duke of Burgundy and several members got decent photos, albeit none from close range. Mind you; distance seems to be no great barrier to these modern cameras!   The other one was a far trickier prospect however. When it did eventually put in an appearance it frustratingly flew quickly around and low to the ground, making it hard to keep track of.Typically, Pearl Bordered Fritillaries rarely fly above knee height and when they do settle it is often very briefly.  Later in the day is probably the best time for photographs as that is when they are more likely to be found nectaring on Bugle. Only Martin was lucky or persistent enough to obtain a photo and a fine one it was too.  Earlier on he had mislaid his spectacles whilst looking at a patch of Scarlet Pimpernel but Robert, our driver for the day, came to the rescue and soon found them.

Duke Of BurgundyDuke Of Burgundy

Next we headed on a southerly path which took us close to the main area of limestone pavement. Whilst the botanists were searching the grikes we were lucky to catch sight of another nationally  rare moth the White-spotted Sable (Anania funebris): too elusive, however, to be photographed on this occasion.  We then traversed the large meadow at the southern end of the site where I had hoped to spot the Small Yellow Underwing, a small macro moth I had seen there the year before, but no joy this time; possibly too breezy?On the main path back to the small car park we passed large clumps of Lily of the Valley a few of which were just coming into flower. Joan and Alice recorded over 90 plants, including Common Gromwell, Field Madder, Limestone Bedstraw and Mountain Mellick.   It had been a memorable day out.

We left the site in good time and were back in Shipley before six. Toilet stops were taken at Kirby Lonsdale going and Gargrave on the return leg. 

John Gavaghan


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.