On this breezy but sunny day we were able to enjoy the delights that this well loved walk afforded us and also some of it's challenges. A small group of five gathered at St Barnabus church car park and meandered down a quiet country lane observing the lovely mixed hedgerow and flora of the verges ( stitchwort, bluebell, celandine, goldilocks buttercup, garlic mustard, cow parsley). Chaffinch and yellowhammer dropped down from the tree tops to feed on the bird seed left by kind walkers. A hare was seen bounding over the fields. Our crossing of the field leading to the bluebell woodland was not without danger, a large group of cattle came over in our direction curious about the visitors.
A beautiful sunny morning greeted the 9 of us as we met in the car park of Stephen Smith's Garden Centre for today's walk. It was wonderful to have Joan out with us once more and even though she could not stay for long her presence and knowledgeable input was much appreciated by all. We started our walk on the path above the woodland where the delights of the season were all around us. There were large patches of wood sorrel, greater stitchwort and wood anenomes looking resplendent in the morning light. Shining cranesbill was in evidence as was three-nerved sandwort. There was much honeysuckle which would scent the air in a few weeks time. Birch, oak, ash, sycamore and goat willow were all in flower and grasses were starting to make an appearance with meadow foxtail, cocksfoot, sweet vernal and wood melick being noted. Further into our walk pendulous and wood sedge were seen as well as field and great wood-rush.
Our party of 9 met outside the No1 building at Kirkstall Forge having travelled by train and bus (one exception). We initially considered the development of the site from it's early beginnings as an iron forge to an industrial site manufacturing axles for vehicles. We took a walk along the bridge overlooking the River Aire where we could view the extensive site where the proposed development of residential housing, shopping and leisure facilities and school were to be built (some considerable delay because of Covid)- a model village for the C21st century. Looking over the bridge a Grey wagtail and Kingfisher were spotted.
On returning to the station we were joined by Steve who had experienced a delay to his train. The group then enjoyed a leisurely walk along the tow path of the Leeds Liverpool canal passing Newlay and Kirkstall Little locks and enjoying views of Kirkstall Abbey and Bramhall Falls woods. This was all in lovely spring sunshine.
In welcome sunshine but with a sharp breeze eight members joined Sue Norvill and myself at Lonk House Lane in Baildon. The aim of today’s walk was to look for signs of Spring in Tong Park. “Lonk” is the name of a breed of sheep (ref. Donald) and the residential property replacing Lonk House Farm buildings was passed as we climbed the stone stile at Farm Gate on to the field track into the valley. Here, Sally (G) saw a “ferrety” like animal avoid identification as it shot across the path! Soon, some 300 feet below, the large pond and Tong Park cricket field, often claimed as having the ground with the most scenic approach in Yorkshire, came into view. The ground had thankfully dried considerably since recce time so underfoot problems were minimal.
This trip had been postponed from 22nd February due to flooding in Ilkley. 8 BEES participants gathered at the Manor House in Ilkley and met up with Sue Stevens, who was leading us on the winter tree trail in Ilkley. Sue and her husband Neil have created this trail and when I had enquired about the leaflets for the trail, Sue had kindly offered to lead our group today.
In beautiful spring sunshine, we examined the features of twenty trees between the Manor House and the Lido, considering the bark, buds, tree shape, catkins and flowers that can aid identification of the trees. The ash trees in Ilkley are sadly being ravaged by ash die back. The most impressive trees on the walk were the rare black poplars on the bank of the River Wharfe. The walk was very informative and interesting and everyone seemed to enjoy it; there seems to be considerable interest in embarking on some of the summer tree trails on offer.
There was a fine drizzle as the 4 of us met at Raw Nook Nature Reserve. Fortunately this did not last for long and by the time we had located our first group of scarlet elf cups, it had stopped. We had been informed by Martyn Priestley, who sadly was not able to join us, to look for these off the main path and they were there in abundance giving a wonderful splash of colour on a dull day. In fact our walk could be called the scarlet elf cup walk as they seemed to be everywhere! No sign of frogspawn as yet on the pond. Probably still too early but worth a look nonetheless. The catkins on the hazel looked glorious and there was evidence of female flowers as well. Birdsong followed us as we strolled with blue and great tits noted as well as blackbirds rooting in the undergrowth.
It ws good to see eleven people turn out for the first BEES trip of 2022. I had hoped to lead the group on the canal towpath towards KIldwick, but it was far too muddy so we walked on the upgraded towpath towards Riddlesden. Shortly after setting off we peered over the wall onto Silsden Beck below and saw a perched kingfisher. It soon flew into some hidden vegetation before flying upstream in a flash of blue. A grey wagtail was seen weaving amongst some pots on a garden wall before flying down to rocks in the beck.
No sooner had we continued walking than the kingfisher was seen again on a canal barge, but as soon as he knew he'd been spotted he was off again.
As we worked our way along the towpath at the reassuringly slow BEES pace, we noted catkins on a tree, berries on a holly bush and fungi on a tree stump which was identified by John as Lumpy Bracket. About a mile along the canal another flying kingfisher was spotted, landing briefly before flying again.
On a grey, still, November day, four of us met up to repeat our almost annual visits to this rich Waxcap site. We had travelled in two cars; so many thanks to the two drivers: Julia & Sue N. Whilst it wasn't a bitterly cold day, we soon felt chilled, as moving around slowly or standing still for periods in November has a tendency to make one feel cold. It wasn't long before I put on my woolly hat!
There was a large funeral going on as we arrived so initially we spent time searching the area closest to the main road. Here we found that the Giant Polypore was still present & numerous Beech Milkcaps were found. It was several minutes before these were successfully identified. They have a most unpleasant smell. The literature mentions them smelling of bed bugs, engine oil, ovens that need cleaning etc !
It was lovely to see so many folk at Rodley today, a bit like old times.Ten of us gathered for an introductory talk from Graham (we were later joined by John) who took the opportunity to inform us of the planned closure of the reserve for at least two months in January and February 2022 for work to be done on upgrading the swing bridge across the canal.The reserve is now a familiar haunt for us all.We usually focus on a different aspect of the reserve on our visit and on this occasion our focus was on fungi. We were given access to the coppice woodland for our fungi foray.This is an area of predominatly willow ( previously used for biomass and laterly managed by Bees conservation volunteers) with alder, birch , oak and beech also a thick understorey of bramble and ferns. We needed an expert for the identification of fungi species and had our own in John.Several species were identified by John and his enthusiastic and patient followers both in the coppice woodland and meadows.
It was just a year since our last visit to Devonshire Park, a small, 9 acre park very close to the centre of Keighley which was opened in 1888 on land given to the town by the 7th Duke of Devonshire and designed by Lister Kershaw whose renowned nursery business had been established in Brighouse some 20 years before. We noted the recently opened outdoor gym and recreational area at the edge of the park and hoped that participants might be inspired by some of the natural beauty around them.