Where was everybody?! You were missed. Marilyn and myself enjoyed an interesting and productive birding walk on a fine autumnal day. This was a circular walk starting from the eastern end of Eccup reservoir encompassing hedgerow, fields, the dam wall and woodland. It gave us a variety of bird life and some late summer flowers. In the hedgerow we saw goldfinch and on the dam verges a pied wagtail. We disturbed groups of cormorant, egrets and coot sheltering below the dam wall. Several red kites were seen in the sky above. A flock of swallows flew overhead. There were large gatherings of geese, greylag and canada on the sheltered beaches of the reservoir in the distance. A group of four swans were seen lingering in the centre of the reservoir. A chiffchaff and jay were heard. Several speckled wood butterflies chased us along the paths. The hedgerows and verges were full of berries, fruit and flowers in seed.
Hot. Hazy. Sultry. Not your typical day in north west England in September. It felt like we had stepped off the train into the Carmargue (not that any off us had been there to validate this comparison). The weather created a perfect atmosphere for a peaceful and relaxed day at Leighton Moss, with most of us travelling by train, and John and Sally G driving to meet us.
Before arriving the thought had been to walk down to the shore hides, but we promptly decided it wouldn’t be worth the effort when we heard that a lack of rain has left the pools dry, so many of the birds had moved to the shore line. (Whilst normally fed by freshwater, the wardens do expect the water levels to rise once there are high tides later in the week). There was one particular bird of interest there so John and Sally nipped down in the car to be our eyes on the leucistic Greenshank, standing out with its white plumage.
Our day began with 4 of us walking alongside the Calder and Hebble canal towards our destination, Cromwell Bottom Nature Reserve. A pleasant walk, particularly in the early stages, where the weeping willows present a majestic picture framing the landscape. Brown roll-rims were spotted at Brookfoot and a dragonfly crossed our path further along, probably a brown hawker. Nearing Cromwell Bottom a pair of mute swans were seen with their accompanying cygnets - 6 in total with their distinctive grey plumage.
Today the sunshine had brought out the butterflies and also Bees members. 10 of us arrived at Rodley nature reserve for an exploration of the reserve, some were completely unfamiliar with the reserve, some had visited for practical willow coppicing work in the winter months and some were old friends. The reserve, primarily developed to promote bird life, has several habitats - lakes, ponds, arable fields (a crop grown for bird seed), hedgerows and meadows. Today our main focus was on one of the most recent projects - the development of the duck marsh into an area attractive for waders through the reduction of the water levels and creation of exposed mud banks. We departed slowly in the direction of the hides taking in the ponds and field crop. From the hides we viewed around five heron in the lagoon in the company of little egret and cormorant. There were good numbers of lapwing present also mallard and little grebe. It will be interesting to see how this project develops.
27.07.2021. TRENCH MEADOWS
This was my first visit with The Wildlife Field Group and it soon became apparent I was in the company of some people with very specific expert knowledge. There were seven of us in total and fortunately the weather was much cooler than it had been the previous week, but still sunny enough to bring out the butterflies.
20.07.2021 RAW NOOK
Raw Nook originally belonged to BR and housed sidings and engine sheds. It was dismantled in 1960 and later designated a nature reserve by Bradford council. BEES last visited in 2013.
Eric had travelled by train to the fairly recently reopened Low Moor station opposite the cobbled road leading to the reserve. Here four other members and a friend joined Sally, our leader, who explained the options and the potential hazards for the day.
This was a delightful walk completed in ideal weather conditions by five members of the Bees group. Unfortunately Alice was unable to make it in person but was with us in spirit. The variety and abundance of flora was superb. Also there were some interesting bird sightings. The verges on either side of the gravel path were occupied by an abundance of flora including sweet smelling meadowsweet, hedge woundwort, meadow vetchling, tufted vetch, honeysuckle, ragged robin, lesser stitchwort, St john's-wort and spear thistle.There was a super abundance of common spotted orchids to enjoy. The banks of the reservoir were much reduced from my last visit nevertheless we saw silverweed, forget-me-not, water mint and mayweed growing on the shore. We passed through a mix of habitats including a coniferous woodland with a display of foxgloves also stink horn and drier grassland with field scabious, betony and harebells.
Today was the second of two walks of greater distance and difficulty than would suit the group as a whole. Six of us used the train to get to Ribblehead to visit the quarry, Scar Close and Colt Park.
The approach road to the quarry gave us an indication of what was in store including Common Twayblades, Bird’s-foot Trefoil, Water Avens, Meadow Vetchling, Fairy Flax and Silverweed. We had a good view of a Latticed Heath Moth and John pointed out Silver-ground Carpet and a grass moth which we had seen last week as well (but I still can’t remember it’s name!).
Our final spot before we entered the quarry was The Scots Guardsman steam train passing over the viaduct on its way north.
A wall of heat was noticeable as we went through the gate into the quarry, but the less welcome change we noticed was the number of biting midges, who stayed with us until we left Scar Close later in the afternoon. How we suffer for our art!
Both of todays walks were conducted in superb weather conditions, we enjoyed warm sunshine throughout. We had a true taste of what summer can be like. A small group of four met in a pub car park in Burley in Wharfedale. We took the path under the dual carriageway lined with Dog Rose and non native shrubs to the stepping stones across the River Wharfe. This is a picturesque and popular beauty spot which on this occasion we shared with three bikini clad bathers! The main spots were Common Valerian growing on the island also the bank and a Heron stationary in the water.The shaded path continued parallel to an extensive canal basin or goit where we saw Yellow Water-lily, Yellow flag iris, Blue damsel flies and young Mallard, through the foliage. We returned to the village through a second underpass passing a mill development and enjoyed lunch seated overlooking the park.
Firstly, thanks to Steve for initiating the idea of some field trips using the train, and for suggesting this route taking in Winskill Stones. It was just a shame that in the end he was unable to join us.
We had a successful day, in no doubt helped by pleasant summer weather, but also enjoying a foray into the limestone landscape as a change to the Bradford parks, hills and woodlands.