WFV, Warton Crag, Silverdale, 24th July, 2018

The BayThe BayOur visit today took us to Warton Crag, a site which hosts a variety of habitats: limestone grassland, woodland and limestone pavement and is a nationally important site for butterflies and moths. Peregrine falcons also nest regularly in the main quarry. A trouble-free journey, saw us arrive at our site before midday and as our party left the car park we were delighted to see 3 Migrant hawkers flying above our heads. As we followed the path up the hillside, the effects of the extremely dry and hot weather we have experienced over the past few weeks, were immediately apparent. The ground was dry and cracked in places, vegetation scorched and some trees were holding leaves that were completely dead. Knapweed was the predominant plant in flower amidst this parched terrain.

Lunch was taken at the butterfly bank, where we saw several brimstone, both male and female, feeding. The weather conditions continued to be perfect for butterflies and throughout the rest of the day we also saw small, large and green-veined white, meadow brown, ringlet, speckled wood, dark green fritillary, small skipper, wall brown, holly blue, common blue and painted lady. John spotted hummingbird hawkmoth and also enabled the group to have a closer look at both Pyrausta cingulata and Pyrausta ostrinalis.

Further up the path Gillian spotted a common lizard basking on a rock but this quickly vanished into the undergrowth. From this point we were able to appreciate the glorious sweep of Morecambe Bay with Blackpool Tower being seen in the distance. It truly is a splendid panorama which never fails to impress. Joan recorded 80 species in flower or fruit as well as 6 ferns. It was pleasing to see goldenrod and ploughman's spikenard but mention must also be made of the carline thistle which looked particularly attractive in the sunshine. Bird sightings were a little thin on the ground but some of the party were delighted to catch sight of a peregrine falcon and a buzzard was also noted flying over the bay. A wonderful day, rounded off by a visit to the local hostelry for much appreciated liquid refreshment.

Thanks to Stuart for his careful driving and to Julia for her ever proficient leadership. I feel I should also mention a comment Joan made towards the end of our visit which summed up the current state of this site "I'm fed up of looking at dead things!". I am sure we all wish it a speedy recovery!

Sally Tetlow

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