Today Alice and myself ventured into the unknown, a visit to Eccup Whin Nature Reserve. BBG had planned a guided walk in July and as this was cancelled I thought it would be of interest to complete an independent exploration. The reserve is situated north of Golden Acre Park and can be accessed from Black Hill Lane and Eccup Lane. It is an area of dense mixed woodland with birch, oak and sweet chestnut. The trees were planted by Yorkshire Water. Subsequently Leeds Countryside Service perform some basic maintenance tasks, tree felling and maintenance of footpaths. However the woodland has been largely left to its own devices. It is a hot spot for migrant birds in the spring and summer.
For our walk we followed the public footpath around the perimeter of the woodland with field and road in view to one side.Thankfully we were able to return to our cars without getting lost. It's that sort of place ! The most interesting were the glades at the beginning of the walk and the area on either side of the board walk at the end of the walk.We were unfortunately unable to locate "the Whin" an area of scrubland with a stream and pond also common spotted orchids. This must be towards the centre of this dense wood. The noticeboard which could have helped has long gone.
There is an extensive understorey of bramble, broad buckler fern, honey suckle, wood avens and enchanters nightshade. In the more open area we found hedge bedstraw, dotted loosestrife, hedge woundwort and bindweed. Butterflies were abundant feeding on the bramble flowers mainly meadow brown ( other butterflies included ringlet). Alice was pleased with the grasses namely tufted hair grass, common bent and creeping bent. Around the board walk were favourites tutsan and pendulus sedge. On the wood margins were black bryony, foxglove and crosswort while along the roadside verges we found Shasta daisy (? a garden escape) and mugwort.
Bird llfe included a red kite soaring above in the woodland (a kestrel had been seen by myself on my journey). It had kept fine for us. There was a slight element of disappointment nevertheless we felt our venture had been worthwhile.