20.07.2021 RAW NOOK
Raw Nook originally belonged to BR and housed sidings and engine sheds. It was dismantled in 1960 and later designated a nature reserve by Bradford council. BEES last visited in 2013.
Eric had travelled by train to the fairly recently reopened Low Moor station opposite the cobbled road leading to the reserve. Here four other members and a friend joined Sally, our leader, who explained the options and the potential hazards for the day.
Even at 10.30am it was hot. In view of this we opted to explore the open meadow first, leaving the more shaded woodland for later. On entering the meadow and passing the beautiful flowers of the invasive Bindweed the initial view was one of overgrown dried grass with a few stands of Creeping Thistle, Hogweed and Rosebay willowherb. Undoubtedly many other smaller plants would have been choked or hidden but soon other patches of colour revealed more flowers for our list. These included the pretty Musk Mallow, Common Knapweed in both unrayed and the less frequent rayed form, Field Scabious, Dark Mullein, both Hairy and Smooth Tares to compare and the late flowering Bartsia, just beginning to open. Along the meadow boundary Stuart pointed out fruit on Grey Alder, Guelder Rose and Hazel.
The sunshine and flowers brought out the insects. We named Ringlet, Meadow Browns, Small Skippers and Tortoiseshell butterflies. The Whites flew past unnamed as did others. John has suggested, from photographs only, that one present in good number whose pale colour defeated us, may have been Speckled Wood. Burnet moths were seen. Soldier beetles were found on Hogweed, their favourite food. Perhaps the heat was too much for them but no one mentioned any birds!
By now the shade of the woodland was welcome. Sue Z joined us at this point. No one realised that temperatures (mine anyway) would soon rise again quickly. It was difficult to contain my excitement when called upon to identify a plant spotted by Jean. Soon everyone was aware that we had found something special! The creamy coloured, six inches tall spike with scale leaves and a drooping head could only be Yellow bird’s nest – though it did take me a while to come up with the correct name. This is a rare plant in the North. Without chlorophyll this plant cannot make food and previously was regarded as a saprophyte. It is now regarded as a parasite as research has shown that it makes connections with the fungal strands essential to tree growth and through them extracts nutrients from the living trees. The association is one of mutual benefit. Our find has been reported to Martyn Priestley, the warden at Raw Nook, who is delighted to add it to the reserve record.
Eventually we left the star find, crossed the woodland and had lunch by the pond. Not surprisingly the water had receded and the mud was strewn with filamentous algae. A dragonfly and damsel flies were seen. Forget-me-not, Water Mint, Great Willowherb and a Club Rush, confusingly a sedge and not a rush, were added to the list. The day’s record was 61 flowering plants together with 2 sedges and a rush. I am sure that we missed a lot. Perhaps this was due to the heat or maybe to the lack of spotting practice recently.
It was good to have Amanda in the field with us, to welcome Eric back and fortunate that Sue arrived in time to get good photographic evidence of our find!
Thank you Sally for proposing the visit and leading us. A day to be remembered and a big tick in my book!