LOW MOOR BANKS 9th JULY 2020
Today's visit was a trial run prior to the possibility of offering meetings to friends of BEES WFV group.
Five people met at the reserve previously known as Dealburn Road. This area together with Raw Nook and Toad Holes Beck are now jointly managed by YWT and Bradford council. We were fortunate that Martyn Priestley, voluntary wildlife and field officer, could join us.
The plant life near the entrance and at the top of the reserve was very similar to that seen in 2017. Between these areas Melilot had invaded. All specimens checked were Ribbed Melilot but that is not to say that Tall Melilot is absent. Hugh yellow swathes interspersed with large patches of Lady's Mantle (garden variety) covered much of the slope. Other pea family members and buttercups added to the yellow carpet. We had heard from Martyn that Bee Orchids had not been seen this year but, astonishingly, a practised spotter found two specimens, albeit in a soggy state, as well as a Common Spotted orchid. Tufted Vetch, Creeping Cinquefoil, Red Clover and Red Fescue formed large colourful patches. Shrubby Cinquefoil and Dittander were still present. Additions to the site list included opportunists like Aquilegia, Purple Toadflax, Mugwort and a single plant of Evening Primrose, all near the entrance, with Dovesfoot Cranesbill in the lower area and Star sedge in the upper region. Undoubtedly the lush grass growth after the recent rain, the tendency of soaked vegetation to lie low and the closure of flowers to shelter from the almost continuous drizzle all contributed to some species being overlooked.
Martyn showed us Alder leaves holed by the Alder beetle which is becoming a serious pest on the site. Another leaf circulated clearly showed a mystery grub enclosed in its tissues ; only after nurturing will we know its identity.
Animal life was sheltering too. Narrow-banded 5-spot Burnet moths however were plentiful. Adults were hunkered down in the vegetation and their cocoons, some entire and others empty with pupal skins hanging from them, were attached high up on the stems of Compact Rush . A Ringlet and a Meadow brown braved the damp. Birds heard were Blackcap, Goldfinch and Great Tit and a Swift was seen. A rabbit made an appearance. Those parking further from the reserve entrance were rewarded by the sight of a Greenfinch and a hovering Kestrel. Additionally they identified Tall Melilot, and added various ragworts, and Perforate St. John's Wort to their lists.
Bearing in mind the origin and location of the reserve it is amazing what can be found here. Many thanks to Martyn for escorting us today and for sharing his knowledge of the site. See photos here.
Addendum: After discussion we concluded that the trial run had been successful. In view of this we hope shortly to give notice of opportunities for others to meet as friends at local sites and to continue to keep alive the spirit of BEES.