There were 14 participants on this week's trip. With the weather forecast predicting a 70% chance of precipitation, we were expecting a wet day.
Our first port of call was a toilet stop in Tadcaster. With only one toilet, a 20p fee and an automatic door with a self-cleaning cycle between each visit, it became a drawn out process. Several 20 pences were lost ( according to a local this is not uncommon), some gave up and others snuck into the toilet at a nearby surgery.
Anyway, we pressed on to Bolton Percy Station Nature Reserve where parking was very limited ( well done Stuart). Bolton Percy ceased functioning as a station in the year I was born. ( That will send you all to google.....). The small reserve spans the old platform and bridge embankments. You cannot forget the railway history with numerous trains racing past on the Leeds to York rail line.
There was plenty for the botanists to enjoy including Biting Stonecrop, Dove's-Foot and Cut-Leaved Cranesbill, Weld and Storksbill. Despite the welcome sunny spells, it wasn't quite warm enough to bring out the butterflies and we had to make do with the colourful Cinnabar Moths. Two deer made a brief appearance before scurrying into the trees.
After having lunch at Bolton Percy we drove on to Askham Bog a small area of peat bog and a Site Of Special Scientific Interest. It has been in the public eye of late with David Attenborough lending support to oppponents of a proposed nearby housing development which may adversely affect this unique habitat by drying it out.
We mainly explored the areas accessible by boardwalk including a pond where Water Violet was growing. This plant is not actually a violet, but is in the primrose family and has been in decline in recent years and is on the Red Data list for England which made this a special find. This same pond gave views of Large Red Damselfy and Azure Damselfly. The warmer temperatures of the afternoon also produced sightings of several butterflies including Orange Tip, Brimstone and Green-veined White. We also saw the caterpillar of the Drinker Moth.
Bird sightings for the day were low ( probably around 20) and included Yellowhammer which may have been heard at Bolton Percy but was definitely seen on a hedgerow as we travelled between the two reserves. Buzzard and Great Spotted Woodpecker were seen at Askham Bog and a willow warbler was heard.
Other botanical highlights included Narrow-leaved Water Dropwort and a mass of ferns including Narrow Buckler and Royal Fern. Unfortunately the area where the rare Gingerbread Sedge grows was not accessible.
As we made our way back to the bus just after 3pm there was a little light rain and as we drove homewards there was a very heavy downpour and some hailstones. We had been very fortunate.
Thanks to Alice for leading and to Stuart for driving.
See the photos here.