Wildlife Field Visit, Swinsty Reservoir-Bird Safari, 14th Feb 2017

Submitted by Wildlife Field… on Wed, 15th Feb 2017, 2:27pm
Velvet ShankVelvet Shank

Our annual visit to this neck of the woods almost didn't take place owing to the large number of cancellations due to ill health. Apart from myself only three other members were fit and well enough to attend; Sue, who did the driving, Marilyn and June. Several other regular attendees were either away on foreign jaunts or had other places to be. Maybe the fact it was Valentine's Day was a factor?

If it had been raining or very windy I don't think we would have gone ahead. Fortunately, however, the weather looked very promising and so off we went. Although there was a chill in the air, particularly along the reservoir, there was sunshine for most of the day which raised our spirits considerably.

I was designated the leader in Margaret's absence and was also tasked with writing this blog! Our route took us in a southerly direction from the car park (the one between Swinsty and Fewston) along the western shore. Very little was seen apart from a small flock of LTTit's and and some withered Pestle Puffballs.  Shortly after we had turned northwards Sue sat on a bench and declared it was now lunchtime. As it was noon there were no objections and the entire group fitted comfortaby beside her.  Sue had very kindly baked a wonderful lemon drizzle cake (enough for a full bus load!). Mind you by the day's end there wasn't too much left over. That did however entail eating cake at the start of the walk, at lunch and at the finish! No doubt Marilyn and June are spending Wednesday recovering from this surfeit!

After lunch we started to see quite a lot of bracket and crust fungi on fallen branches, logs and tree stumps. These included: Turkeytail, Lumpy and Smoky Brackets, Hairy Curtain Crust (Stereum hirsutum) and a group of blackened brackets that were too out of reach to ID. Also seen were Velvet Shank, Stump Puffball and on a coniferous log; Purplepore Bracket (Trichaptum abietinum).

Whilst I was wrestling with brambles etc, trying to get close and personal with the fungi, June and Sue went on ahead to look for a woodpecker they had heard drumming. After ten minutes or so I rejoined them and we all stood together searching for the elusive bird. Although it never did show up we were delighted to observe Blue and Great Tits, Nuthatches, Treecreeper, Wren, a male Bullfinch, a couple of Siskin and the stars of the show a pair of Brambling!  Other birds seen during the day were Red Kite, Heron, Great Crested Grebe, Geese and Mallards. Buzzard and Curlews were heard but not seen. The only plants in flower were some low growing white petalled nodding flowers but without our botanists what could we do? (Only joking!)

We left the site at 15:10 and were back at Culture Fusion before 16:30. All agreed it had been a splendid day and we had also enjoyed putting the world to rights!. Hopefully our absent colleagues will all soon be back with us.

Thank you Sue for driving the bus and for baking the cake.

See the photos here. 

John Gavaghan

WFV, St Ives Estate, Bingley 7th February, 2017

Submitted by Wildlife Field… on Wed, 8th Feb 2017, 3:07pm
Looking At The Plaque Under Lady Blanytre's RockLooking At The Plaque Under Lady Blanytre's Rock

A fine morning saw a group of 7 of us arrive at St Ives to meet up with Sue, Alan and Marje, who had arrived by car.  Unfortunately Joan, our leader for the day, had been taken ill and so it fell to myself to lead our group around the varied habitats of the estate.  Our start was delayed slightly as we waited for Lorna to arrive but a decision was eventually made to set off and trust we would meet her later, which I am delighted to say we did.  However whilst waiting, we did hear our first bird of the day - a woodpecker drumming in the trees just below the car park.

We headed first for Baxter's Pond.  On our way John identified the first of our fungus sightings for the day - smoky bracket.  It proved, as the day unfolded, to be a very productive site as a whole for fungi as we identified also ganoderma, pestle puffball, candle snuff, turkey tail, jelly ear, birch polypore and hairy curtain crust as we progressed on our walk.

After Baxter's Pond we headed for Coppice Pond where we saw coot, mute swan, female goosander, black headed gulls and numerous mallard.  Further along the path we stopped at the bird hide where there were good sightings of treecreeper, nuthatch, dunnock, robin, blue and great tits, blackbird, wood pigeon and some very acrobatic squirrels rifling the bird feeders!  Hunger got the better of us at this point and we doubled back to the picnic tables where we lunched in the sunshine.

Our walk then took us past Coppice Pond and up towards Lady Blantyre's statue, which sadly seems to have been removed from her usual look-out.  We continued up the slope, past the golf course, where Robert spotted a song thrush, to the top of Altar Lane.  Here we stopped to admire the view across the valley.  A gentle stroll then took us back down to the car park via Blind Lane, where Robert caught sight of a kestrel sitting high on a tree top.

Flower sightings consisted of snowdrops and hazel catkins but Alice was particularly impressed with the quantity and variety of lichens and mosses she encountered as we went round.  A lovely day enjoyed by all.  Thanks to Robert for driving. See photos here.  

Sally Tetlow

24th January 2017 New Year Social

Submitted by Wildlife Field… on Wed, 25th Jan 2017, 9:34pm

We gathered at the Unitarian Church Hall for our annual New Year Social. Following a short introduction Sue entertained us with digital images taken in 2016 which brought back fond memories. This was followed by a short presentation by Alice of special flowers seen on Bees outings. Having enjoyed an excellent buffet lunch we reassembled for a discussion on the way forward for Bees in the light that Joan and Margaret would be stepping down from their respective roles and duties with the group. This matter would be taken forward by the group at the next planning meeting on the 28th March. Joan gave us some of the suggestions that had been made in respect of the spring and summer programme 2017. The excellent Diary prepared by Julia was distributed. We went away having enjoyed an interesting and sociable afternoon together. Margaret

WFV Harewood New Year Walk, 10th January 2017

Submitted by Wildlife Field… on Thu, 12th Jan 2017, 12:07pm

Hymenochaete spHymenochaete spSeveral people had dropped out of this week's trip leaving a very small number of participants. When I was picked up at Greengates there were only 5 on the minibus. I was rather surprised when one of the passengers hopped off as I got on, having decided the planned walk may be too lengthy. This must be the smallest ever BEES trip.

We proceeded to Harewood where Donald led a walk of about 5 miles. It was dry but grey as we set off. We have done similar walks in the past but this time we took the route in a reverse direction. The first section was through a wooded area where Stuart indulged his passion for tree identification. Our flower spotters were missing this week so the focus was mainly on birds and fungi. Treecreeper and Goldcrest were spotted in the plantation and John found some interesting fungi including Yellowing Curtain Crust. Others are yet to be identified. On leaving the wood we were subject to the moderately strong, cold wind. There were numerous red kites flying and one was also spotted perched at the top of a tree. A few buzzard were also seen.

We sat on a bridge wall to have our lunch as the sun finally broke through and a grey heron was spotted in a field alongside the stream. As we continued walking after lunch we saw red deer and fallow deer in the distance. Another Goldcrest put in an appearance along with a nuthatch and several long-tailed tits. We arrived back at the minibus early afternoon. Thanks to Donald for leading this pleasant winter walk and to Stuart for driving.

See the photos here. 


WFV Mystery Trip Rodley Nature Reserve 22nd November 2016

Submitted by Wildlife Field… on Wed, 23rd Nov 2016, 8:35am

Purple Polypore BracketPurple Polypore BracketBees luck has returned! Torrential rain on Monday, calm conditions on Tuesday. Our mystery trip brought the Bees party of 11 by minibus to the familiar surroundings of Rodley nature reserve. Margaret, Marilyn and June had made their own way there. Following a cup of tea and mince pie in the visitors centre Graham gave us an overview of what we might look out for on the reserve. Water levels have been lowered in the reed bed area and this had encouraged the water rail to show itself. Otters were now regularly seen in the river by the bridge. He told us the harvest mice introduction programme was continuing despite the devastation of last year's flooding with a view to their introduction into a more sheltered corner of the reserve. "Weasel" shouted Joan and people gathered to look through the widows of the visitor centre. Also on view were the many little birds attracted to the feeders in the Bee garden. They included goldfinch, chaffinch, bullfinch, blue tit, great tit, robin and dunnock.   

We proceeded to complete a circular walk mainly on gravel paths around the reserve calling at the ponds, gazebo and hides. The birds flying overhead in a flock over the fields were later identified as linnet. In and around the reed beds were heron, grey wagtail, moorhen, coot, carrion crow, reed bunting and pheasant. In the lagoons were gadwall in good numbers, teal, wigeon, great crested grebe, two little grebes, mute swan and cygnets. A greenfinch was seen in the manager's garden. Greylag geese, Canada geese, gulls and several jays were seen in the fields. Unusually no birds of prey were sighted. Again strangely tufted duck were not seen. A bank vole was seen disappearing into the coppice woodland. The main interest from a botanical perspective was a spindle tree with attractive pink berries and glowing red leaves on the butterfly bank also a single cowslip alongside the visitor centre. There was a lot of colour in the landscape, not all the trees had shed leaves. John and Joan took especial interest in the fungi species which included honey fungus, willow bracket, purple pore bracket and jelly ear. We were impressed with the condition of the reserve, hedges had been restored leaving gaps for water to run through, the children's pond dipping area had been rebuilt with an additional shelter, there was now ramp access to the first hide.  We settled down for lunch and another cuppa in the visitor centre. June had brought several Rodley calendars for 2017 which were available for purchase.

Wood OysterlingWood OysterlingOur afternoon was spent visiting the special area set aside for the Rodley robins. Sally and Denise have established this group for younger children which meets monthly on a Saturday with the aim of developing a children's love and understanding for the natural world as well as having fun. The group have their own small nature reserve in an area that was originally a pheasant coup. Sally explained that they had developed a number of mini habitats within the area for the children to observe wildlife.  

I think everyone agreed that it had been a splendid day out from both the wildlife and social perspective, with some added suspense

Thanks go to Graham for his generosity to the group also leaders Sally and Margaret not forgetting Marilyn for running the cafe.

See the photos here. 


Wildlife Field Visit, Cunnery Wood Shibden, Ist November 2016.

Submitted by Wildlife Field… on Wed, 2nd Nov 2016, 6:08pm

Purple Jelly DiscPurple Jelly DiscIt was almost like a personal taxi service as Sue drove three of us to Shibden Hall to meet the six members who had travelled there independently. It was good to see Brian who joined us fleetingly before the walk began. Conditions were unbelievably good. Bright sunshine and blue skies lasted all day and the paths were dry. Just an occasional nip in the air and a squelch underfoot beneath the leaf litter reminded us that it was November.

Armed with pocket guides published by the British Mycological Society and acquired by Lorna, we headed towards the lake. It was deja view here; a grey heron was again perched in a paddle boat and the gulls and swans were posing nicely. Except for a few woodland species few other birds were seen. Sally's recce then enabled us to be led to tree stumps displaying good numbers of fruiting bodies while others were among the leaf litter. Nineteen genera were identified by Joan and John in our annual foray, including three Coprinus species, Purple jelly disc, Shaggy scaly cap and a somewhat 'going over' favourite of Joan's, the Blackfoot polypore. Two special discoveries, Wood pinkgill, (a first for Joan) and Coniferous blueing bracket compensated for the smaller than anticipated number of 'finds'. In a chiefly deciduous wood it was interesting to see the bracket spores had chosen wisely as it was growing on a path edging plank highly unlikely to be hard wood. Homework for the mycologists was provided by also-rans from the stables of Mycena and Crusts! It is most likely that in spite of diligent searching by everyone the litter concealed some secrets effectively.

The contrast between the various hollies and the deciduous foliage was magnificent in places. Fern leaved Beech, Fagus sylvatica Asplenifolia, certainly did look splendid with its narrow pointed leaves yet typical beech buds. Stuart's expertise helped here and, after later study, confirmed our other unknown to be Turkish Hazel, a new species for everyone. Fifteen wild plants were recorded with flowers. Nettles were flowerless but their stings as sharp as ever! There was an assortment of ferns both wild and cultivated, hardly surprising as Cunnery wood was originally planted. Nearer to the ground expanses of liverworts and mosses carpeted the soil and clothed the stumps: the occasional lichen was seen.

Grey Heron On A Boat Again ( or does it just stay there?)Grey Heron On A Boat Again ( or does it just stay there?)Other than one grey squirrel, mammalian life was represented by cleverly executed wood carvings on tree stumps around the estate. Evidence of invertebrate life was seen by the galls on various species of oak leaves. The presence of the larvae of the gall wasp Biorrhiza pallida is responsible for the oak apples found, while those of Neuroterus quercusbaccarum cause the formation of spangle galls.

Sally's leadership, Sue's driving, the expertise of Joan and John, and the contributions of all present resulted in an excellent day completed in appropriate style with tea and cakes in the cafe. Later reading of further B.M.S. leaflets provided interest. The results from planting the mushroom spawn remain to be seen! Watch this space!

See the photos here. 


Wildlife Field Visit, Stainforth Force, 18th Oct 2016

Submitted by Wildlife Field… on Thu, 20th Oct 2016, 4:01pm

Salmon leapSalmon leapThe mini-bus was full after various pickups along the Aire Valley. We were heading for our destination (a few miles north of Settle) in order to watch the salmon leaping up the force on their annual spawning migration.

Alas;all members of the group, bar Julia, who was our leader and driver for the day failed to spot any. The recent rainfall had made the force far too powerful. Watching the tremendous volumes of water hurtling down the falls was certainly mesmeric. Conditions were far from benign, as we were subject to almost incessant rain during the day. Several of the party, myself included, headed off early to the 'Knight's Cafe' which is sited within the nearby caravan park. This was where the mini-bus was parked as the village car-park was effectively out of bounds due to necessary repairs being carried out on the bridge.  Their excellent coffee was just the job on a chilly, wet day.

The six of us then returned to the force to rejoin the rest of the group who had been braving the elements. Most had already departed for Langcliffe Weir, obviously wanting to move to stay warm! The 1.5 miles to the weir were fairly treacherous as the path was very muddy and consequently hazardous due to the slippery grass and very wet limestone. Luckily no one took a serious tumble. We eventually caught up with them sheltering under some tall trees.

We searched again for the salmon at the metal bridge at Langcliffe but without success.  Joan and Alice had managed to record a total of 35 plants in flower plus 5 ferns. Needless to say no insects were spotted.  Birds were in short supply, though Sue did manage to see a solitary Dipper.  

Julia had driven the bus to meet us all at the weir. From there we then went off to our next destination; Giggleswick Chapel. This is a magnificent building (within the curtillage of the famous school) that was constructed in 1897 thanks to the efforts of a very wealthy philanthropist W Morrison. It was a pleasure to sit in the warm chapel after our wet and chilly excursion of the morning and early afternoon. The lady archivist who greeted us and made us feel most welcome gave an excellent talk on the history of the chapel and pointed out its numerous architectural features. The high domed ceiling, intricately carved woodwork and stained glass windows were especially impressive.Stained Glass Window, Giggleswick School ChapelStained Glass Window, Giggleswick School Chapel

The copper dome which for many decades had been green, is currently not so; following recent essential repair work to stop leakages. We will have to wait for nature to take its course before verdigris causes it to change colour back to its familiar green.

Whilst no fungi were seen on our walk several were spotted on the lawn outside the chapel; Shaggy Scalycap (at the foot of a rowan), Birch Knight (Tricholoma fulvum) nearby and close to a group of birch trees. Also a number of very slimy whitish fungi not yet ID'd. These have now been ID'd as Poisonpie (Hebeloma crustuliniforme)

A most interesting day. I am sure I would never have thought of visiting the marvellous chapel myself so many thanks to the leaders for including this on the outing.

See the photos here. 

John Gavaghan

WFV, Morecambe and Hest Bank, 4th Oct 2016

Submitted by Wildlife Field… on Wed, 5th Oct 2016, 9:02pm


A full minibus headed north to meet with Stuart and Gillian in Morecambe.  The day was beautifully sunny on arrival and continued to remain so for the duration of our visit.  We started our saunter along the promenade to good views of numerous gulls including a common tern spotted by Maddy and were pleased to see large flocks of oystercatchers and redshank feeding on the mudflats.  A few curlew were also noted and we were delighted to see a couple of turnstone searching for food at the end of a slipway.  Eider, both male and female, were seen out at sea along with red breasted mergansers.  There were sightings of pied wagtail feeding amongst the rocks whilst out at sea we watched a shag successfully catching its lunch!  Great crested grebe were also seen in the bay and a common tern was spotted by Maddy.

Our picnic lunch was eaten in the warm autumn sunshine before we continued on to Happy Mount Park where we boarded the minibus to head to our next destination of Hest Bank.  Here a cafe stop afforded some the opportunity for refreshment whilst a few of us continued birding.  We were rewarded with the sight of godwit (black tailed it was decided after much discussion), amongst the flocks of oystercatchers and redshank and with the aid of Stuart's scope were able to identify lapwing, dunlin, shelduck, knot and greenshank as well.  

The botanists recorded 59 species in flower including gallant soldier, sticky groundsel, annual wall rocket, lesser swine-cress and a late flowering sea campion.  There was also sea radish at Hest Bank and 3 ferns were noted between boulders. Red Admiral butterflies were about all day and we also noted an occasional white.


An excellent day in all.  Thanks go to Julia and Sue for their co-driving and to Stuart for leading as well as for the use of his scope which was invaluable in our identification efforts.

See the photos here. 

Sally Tetlow 

WFV Denaby Ings YWT reserve S Yorks 20th Sept 2016

Submitted by Wildlife Field… on Wed, 21st Sep 2016, 11:47am

Water ChickweedWater ChickweedDenaby Ings ( the first visit for most of the group) did not disappoint for the variety of habitats and species. The weather was warm, calm and autumnal. The trees and shrubs were laden with fruit.

Our day consisted of a meander around the perimeter of the Ings, an extensive lake created as a result of mining subsidence. It has an important role in flood control of the Dearne valley, overflow water entering the wetland when the gates of the sluice are raised. The group spent some considerable time viewing the birds that had gathered on the lake from the two hides. As well as good numbers of Black headed gulls and Mallard there were Gadwall, Teal, Wigeon, a lone Egret, several Grey Heron and a group of Cormorants sitting sentinel like in the trees. We enjoyed seeing the Great crested grebe with young also a Mute swan with cygnets. A Buzzard circled overhead and a Kestrel was seen. The total number of birds seen was 22. A number of Migrant hawker dragonflies were seen and also a white butterfly in the area of grassland.

A total of 61 species were recorded by Alice (our botanist), 35 in flower, 22 in fruit in addition 3 ferns. In the area between the sluice and the River Derwent several interesting plants had recently colonised including Celery leaved buttercup, Water chickweed, Spear leaved orache, Broad leaved plantain and Redshank. Soapwort and Marsh yellow-cress were seen. Notable plants of the woodland and grassland were Sanicle, Black bryony, Guelder rose, Gypsywort, St John's wort, Harebell and Devil's bit scabious. A stand of Ploughman's spikenard was seen by myself on the road side shortly after leaving the reserve.

Three of us completed an additional short walk along the Trans Pennine Way, a cycle path that follows the River Dearne and leads to the Earth Centre and Sprotbrough Flash. The path edges were botanically rich and would be worth including in a summer visit.

The day was rounded off with a blackberry picking session, the blackberries would nicely combine with the apples Julia had kindly brought for the group. We were back in Bradford in good time having enjoyed a satisfying and leisurely day out with a blackberry and apple crumble to look foward to. Thanks go to Julia for driving and for those apples.

See the photos here. 



Wildlife Field Visit, Towneley Hall and Park, Burnley, 6th Sept 2016

Submitted by Wildlife Field… on Thu, 8th Sep 2016, 9:39am

Amethyst DeceiverAmethyst DeceiverAfter several pickups along the Aire Valley a full mini-bus was navigated by our driver Robert through the roads of Colne and Burnley towards Towneley Hall which lies 1.5 miles south east of the town centre. This was the group's first ever visit to this site. Like many similar industrial towns there are lots of awful modern buildings punctuated by some splendid Victorian affairs notably the two main churches.

The forecast assured us of a fine warm day. Though this wasn't inaccurate the temperature never reached the levels expected of it. Perhaps this is why we were denied the sight of many butterflies and dragonflies or is it because they have fared badly this summer?

On arrival the group made its way up to the Deer Pond, described as a Local Nature Reserve. Alas this turned out to be something of a disappointment as we saw no dragonflies or interesting waterside plants, though we did spot a heron in flight. After that we headed towards the 400 year old hall by which time many of the group were feeling like lunch was the main priority! So it was the various members decided to go their separate ways.

I along with Joan, Alice, Maddie and Vera did half the 1.8 mile 'historic woodland walk' before lunch(Walk no. 3 on the information leaflet), after which Maddie and Vera chose to go into the hall. The 5 of us took lunch on the benches outside the hall and facing the gorgeous formal garden. This is where I saw my only butterflies of the day; two Red Admirals and a few Small Whites; no Peacocks, Small Torts, Commas or Speckled Woods?  Apart from ducks there was nothing else to see in the Duck Pond!

A total of 100 plants in flower that incl grasses were recorded together with 9 species of fern. Several species of fungi were spotted alongside the woodland paths, mainly on fallen tree trunks, Deer Shield, Sulphur Tuft, Ganodermas, Turkeytail, Honey Fungus, The Blusher, Amethyst Deceiver, Dead Moll's Fingers and Lumpy Bracket. We were also delighted to see Burnley's oldest tree, a 400 year old oak.  Alice got a nice picture of it after a bit of scrambling through the undergrowth to get the best view.

The rest of the group either went on riverside walks or visited the hall; although our principal photographer Sue spent the day on her own hunting down photo opportunities and couldn't resist taking another picture of her favourite bird, the robin! Meanwhile Robert had retired to the mini-bus to catch up on some much needed sleep.

LapwingsLapwingsThe best birds were seen by the riverside walkers; Lapwings & Grey Wagtail. Those members who visited the hall and its museum all said how much they had enjoyed it. I can vouch for the quality of the cakes in the Stables cafe which is where half the group spent the last half hour of the day.

The well disciplined group all returned back to the bus by the agreed time of 15:30 and thankfully no one had got themselves lost!

Many thanks to Joan for organising and leading this trip and to our driver Robert who had loyally turned up despite having endured a sleepless evening due to a domestic emergency.

See the photos here. 

John Gavaghan