WFV, Gisburn Forest and Black House Farm Meadows, 11 July 2017

Common KnapweedCommon KnapweedIt was a wet morning when our minibus left Bradford with 14 hardy souls aboard.  Our destination today was the beautiful Forest of Bowland for a much anticipated wildflower bonanza.  The weather was still not on our side as we arrived at the Gisburn Forest Hub but, undeterred, we donned our waterproof gear and headed out through the mixed woodland plantation.  We were not to be disappointed as sneezewort was quickly spotted along with slender marsh bedstraw.  There was much along the pathway to keep our botanists busy with their recording but little birdlife, apart from one chaffinch heard singing as we made our exit from the woodland and entered the churchyard of St James where lunch was taken.

By now the rain had abated and our afternoon was greeted by an ever increasing brightness in the sky and so, suitably replete, we took the path leading us up the hill that afforded excellent views of the extensive Stocks Reservoir.  Bird sightings picked up and included meadow pipit (obviously feeding young), swallow, swift, reed warbler and wildfowl on the reservoir itself - unfortunately too distant to identify without a scope.  Butterfly activity was also noted predominantly ringlets, whilst moths recorded were Silver-ground carpet, Large Yellow Underwing and Latticed Heath moth.

We then walked through the delightful Black House Farm Meadows, a designated SSSI.  This was a truly wonderful site, with an abundance of flowers and grasses,  I think what made it such a delight was the varying heights of the vegetation giving a rippling effect to the whole, rather like waves on the sea.  The burnet and knapweed particularly stood out today and looked simply stunning.  A rather waterlogged route then took us back to the main path where we retraced our steps back to the minibus.  Notable here was Robert's sighting of 4 kestrel over the trees on the hillside.

A total of 111 plants in flower plus 4 ferns were recorded.  Special mention must be made of the wood ragwort and common valerian seen on route.  The grasses were particularly impressive today and samples of a number were taken by Alice for consideration at home!  Thanks must go to Julia for driving so safely and for leading us round this impressive site.

Sally Tetlow

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