In contrast to our last outing to Arnside our Bees expedition today was nearer to home, namely a walk along the Leeds Liverpool canal from Armley Mills to the centre of Leeds.
The aims of the walk were to appreciate; the green corridor of plants and wildlife that runs into the centre of Leeds along the canal; some of the industrial heritage of Leeds; also the developments for flood alleviation in one of the fast developing cities of the "Northern Powerhouse". I think the group of 12 found it to be an interesting and enjoyable day out which took place in warm and fine weather conditions.
Our walk started in the garden of Armley Mills with its interesting garden plants, trees and succulents. Many of the plants have been used as natural dyes. As Chris, a staff member at the Mills explained to us later in the day, the dye works was located some distance from the Mill (was this because urine was used as a fixative or mordant?).
We observed a range of water plants as well as plants growing on canal sides. Some particularly attractive water plants included Arrowhead with it's characteristically arrow shaped leaves, the yellow Fringed Water-lily and White Water-lily with its circular large floating leaves. These plants need fresh nutrient rich waters in slow moving streams/canals. Other notable water plants were Branched bur-reed, Broad-leaved Pond weed, Perfoliate Pond weed, Flowering-rush and Common Duckweed. Adorning the sides of the canal and locks were Skullcap, Gypsywort, Maidenhair Spleenwort, Michaelmas Daisy, Hemlock Water-dropwort, Meadowsweet, Bittersweet and Water Mint. Other plants found in drier areas were Red Bartsia, Buddleia, Common Fleabane, Bilbao Fleabane, Melilot, Common Toadflax, Yellow-cress, Red Valerian, Giant Hogweed, and Mugwort. 120 plants were recorded by Joan and Alice.
Butterflies seen included all the whites, Speckled Wood and Comma. The insect life on the surface of the canal was of interest as well as the numerous small fish that could be spotted in the clear canal water. Bird life was somewhat limited to 12 recorded species including Mallard, Moorhen ( a youngster), Great Tit and a flock of Long-tailed Tits. A pair of Swans was seen at the conclusion of the walk near the centre of Leeds and a female Goosander from the bridge spanning the River Aire on our return to Armley Mills where we enjoyed a celebratory cake in honour of Joan's birthday. All agreed that it had been an enlightening day out and thanks go to all those who assisted including Stuart and Vera. And finally just a word of warning for those who may wish to attempt this otherwise tranquil walk, BE AWARE of those joggers and cyclists out for their practice rides and jogs!