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Brockadale Nature Reserve, 1st August 2019

Examining calcareous grassland

Examining calcareous grassland


August is a busy month for holidays, so just 9 members gathered to spend Yorkshire Day ‘botanizing at Brockadale’. Brockadale is a Yorkshire Wildlife Trust nature reserve in West Yorkshire. It lies 10 miles north of Doncaster, just east of the A1, between the villages of Wentbridge and the Smeatons. The name derives from ‘broken dale’, referring to the numerous craggy outcrops of Magnesian limestone along this section of the valley of the River Went. Here the river meanders along the valley, edged either by carr-type woodlands, cliffs, or alluvial meadows. The steepness of the valley sides has prevented any cultivation and the slopes are still covered by undisturbed species rich Magnesian Limestone grasslands or ancient woodland.

Clustered Bellflower (Campanula glomerata)

Clustered Bellflower (Campanula glomerata)


Muff Upsall and Richard Campbell planned a route for us as, thankfully, these 2 members had visited this extensive reserve previously. However, as per normal, exploring the car park area kept us busy for at least the first 45 minutes. Easy to spot were the numerous tall blue spikes of Clustered Bellflower, scattered in the meadow alongside. We then lost time puzzling over a single, enchanting seed head, which Muff later identified as the seed head for Dropwort. We set off, exploring different habitats along the way, usually in single file and having to relay information along our line. The patches of purples, blues and yellows that stood out often proved to be patches of Greater and Lesser Knapweed, Wild Basil, Betony, Field and Small Scabious, Lady’s Bedstraw, Agrimony and the lovely, creamy coloured Wild Mignonette dotted in between. A sunny lunchtime was spent enjoying the view across the slightly damp, alluvial meadow. We all heard the green woodpecker in the nearby willows, but only Richard spotted the kingfisher fly up the river.

In the afternoon we began to explore part of the woodland. At first, at each side dense, tall clumps of Tor-grass, or Chalk False-Brome, were definitely decreasing the plant diversity. Within the shadier wood it was enjoyable to see Old Man’s Beard in full flower and clambering to seek out sunlit spots. Stinking Hellebore was found, and then, catching the light, an old, brown, dried plant of Common Gromwell with a very shiny, very white seed in each stem leaf axil.

Brown Argus (Aricia agestis)

Brown Argus (Aricia agestis)


Emerging from the wood we rejoined Jack and Erin who had spent the morning adventuring. They were already enjoying the most wonderful wide open meadow that we will all remember as memorable for the abundance of butterflies. Erin compiled a list of butterflies seen as follows; Large White, Small White, Painted Lady, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Brimstone, Brown Argus, Red Admiral, Gatekeeper, Small Skipper, Comma, 6-Spot Burnet, and 2 members enjoyed a brief sighting of a Silver-washed Fritillary. This last sighting was unexpected as Brockadale is a known location for the Dark Green Fritillary but we were unlucky that day. Just before leaving this meadow Richard pointed out a Liquorice plant, a plant that was new to most of us. The flowers had finished but large seed pods were developing like chunky pea pods.

Liquorice

Liquorice


The trip was a most enjoyable way to mark Yorkshire Day. A plant list is attached.

Many thanks to Muff for organizing the day, and to Nick for taking the stunning photos.
Kerry Morrison

Brockadale plant list

Botanical day at Farnham Gravel Pits, 13th July 2019

Just a week after National Meadows Day a lovely warm day greeted 13 members at Farnham Gravel Pit for a botanical field trip. We were fortunate to have Kevin Walker, Head of Science for BSBI with us again to guide us around the fine details of the different species found in this SINC designated site.

Zigzag Clover (Trifolium medium)

Zigzag Clover (Trifolium medium)

As we started in the car park Kevin showed us some familiar Common Centaury, Dovesfoot and Cut-leaved Cranesbill, Hoary and Common Ragwort, and getting less familiar, Knotted Pearlwort, perfect for beginners like me! Crossing the access road through the gate in the otter fence, we explored the north lake southern shoreline where there was a wonderful display of Zigzag Clover, a moderately scarce plant in this area. Also there was a stand of Common Spotted and Pyramidal Orchids. The Rush family was well represented in this area, much to Sonia’s delight. Kevin then introduced us to the least showy members of the Dandelion family ….. this is when you definitely need an expert with a hand lens to separate the Catsears (Hypochaeris) from the Hawkbits (Leontodon). (See plant list for which species were revealed). The Umbellifers in flower included Upright Hedge Parsley and Hogweed. Kevin showed us an imported aquatic called Sweet Flag which is now naturalised throughout our area.

Scouring the top car park for smaller flowers

Scouring the old car park for smaller flowers


Back over the road we paused in the top car park for lunch, having added Blue Fleabane, Mouse-eared Hawkweed and Weld to our ever increasing plant list.
The afternoon was warming up as we walked down the shady west side path around the south lake where there was easy access to the shoreline and Kevin explored the aquatic plants. Some of these plants have been introduced from overseas but there seems to be an equilibrium in the south lake, except of course for the Crassula which is rampant all around the sandy shores and in the pond area.

Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) male on Hairless Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla glabra)

Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) male on Hairless Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla glabra)


By the time we arrived at the pond area the afternoon heat had built up, our notebooks were full of notes, sketches and pressed leaves, and we said goodbye and thank you to Kevin. It was a wonderful day when we all learned so much from him as he shared so generously his extensive botanical knowledge, as the full plant list made up by Kerry, will show.
Thanks also to June Atkinson and the Management Team for maintaining the site.

Sue Coldwell

Farnham plant list

Meadows Day at Farnham Gravel Pit, 6th July 2019

Admiring meadow flowers (Kerry Morrison)

Admiring meadow flowers (Kerry Morrison)


It was hard to believe that Meadows Day 2019 was upon us, when last year’s seemed only a short while ago. We celebrated the occasion with some guided walks on bees, dragonflies and botany and it was a real pleasure to see some new members visiting the reserve, and even more so to meet the children and grandchildren who came along. Farnham gravel pit is there for all of us to use and when the sun is shining and insects are on the wing, this spot certainly takes some beating.

Bee orchid (Peter Thomson)

Bee orchid (Peter Thomson)


The morning began with a guided bee and dragonfly walk led by Bill Hall and David Holmes. It was easy to spot some of the bumble bees on the flowering Betony plants in area 2, which included the Common Carder and the Buff-tailed and Red-tailed bumblebees. Honeybees were also present

Only a few yards away David Aldred was viewing dragonfly activity on the lake. We joined him to see Common Darters, Four-spotted Chasers and Emperor dragonflies. A Banded Demoiselle, Common Blue and Emerald damselflies were also present including a number of newly emerged ones. Then, at the pond, a Black-tailed Skimmer was spotted, whilst under our feet in the grass we were finding tiny frogs and toads.

Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood and Small Skipper butterflies all obliged with appearances, with a stoat adding to the records list just before we had lunch.
The afternoon session was a guided botanical walk led by Kevin and Claire Walker and their children. Farnham Gravel Pit is home to well over 400 plants. So despite the fact that we were stopping every few minutes to look at them, the group managed to get round the South Lake and we had a very relaxed and enjoyable afternoon. It was particularly good to be accompanied by children who were playing happily alongside the water and spotting all sorts of wildlife including the fish and a Moorhen’s nest.

Moorhen's nest (Peter Thomson)

Moorhen’s nest (Peter Thomson)


Kevin even managed a grand tree finale by pointing out three types of Alder – Native, Italian and Grey. He then made a nature table to show us four species of Willow – Crack, Osier, Goat and Grey.

This year’s Meadows Day showcased Farnham Gravel Pit at its very best. It served as a reminder of how lucky we are to have this resource available to us on our doorsteps. So remember the adage – use it or lose it. Our thanks to Kerry and Muff for organising, and to all our leaders for their guidance.

Sonia Starbuck

South Gare, Cleveland, Monday 1st July 2019

Leader: Dave Barlow, County Recorder for VC 62, NE Yorkshire

Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus) on South Gare

Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus) on South Gare


South Gare is an area of reclaimed land and breakwater on the south side of the River Tees near Redcar. The extensive area is made from vast quantities of basic slag generated over a hundred years ago from the blast furnaces used in steelmaking. Production methods in those times were inefficient so considerable elements of the original limestone remain, producing a base rich soil. The eastern dunes are protected by three slag banks close to the breakwater so are currently not flooded by the sea. In addition, there has been recent dumping of quantities of soil from an unknown source in two very large mounds.

Dave has known the site for many years and has a fantastic knowledge of the location of its treasures despite the vastness of the area. He was a very authoritative guide with numerous anecdotes and an excellent companion for our field trip. There were so many exciting species that this account omits many and the species list should be consulted for the true variety of what was present (what we normally regard as ‘common’ species, were actually quite uncommon in this unusual location).

Purple Milk-vetch (Astragalus danicus)

Purple Milk-vetch (Astragalus danicus)


As usual, recording commenced as we got out of the cars with musk thistle (Carduus nutans) numerous on the roadside. The normal place of common meadow grasses was replaced by sculptural rosettes of buckshorn plantain (Plantago coronopus) and sea plantain (Plantago maritima). Innumerable drifts of hop trefoil (Trifolium campestre), common stork’s-bill (Erodium cicutarium) and restharrow (Ononis repens) were interspersed with sea fern grass (Catapodium maritinum), hoary mustard (Hirschfeldia incana), mignonette (Reseda lutea) and sea rocket (Cakile maritima). Small pockets of blue fleabane (Erigeron acer), prickly lettuce (Lactuca serriola), eastern rocket (Sisymbrium orientale) and purple milk-vetch (Astragalus danicus) added further interest.

Dave Barlow demonstrating to HDNS  members at South Gare

Dave Barlow demonstrating to HDNS
members at South Gare


Proceeding onto the main area revealed the sturdy alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum) contrasting with the delicate sea pearlwort (Sagina maritima) and the surprising Duke of Argyle’s tea plant (Lycium barbarum). The clovers, strawberry (Trifolium frangiferum), hare’s foot (Trifolium arvense) and zigzag (Trifolium medium) each added their own ‘jizz’ to the absorbing botanical patchwork. The grasses were represented by maritime versions of inland species including the tiny sand couch (Elymus farctus). Other treasures included frosted orache (Atriplex laciniate), sand cat’s tail (Phleum arenarium), sea holly (Eryngium maritimum), lesser meadow rue (Thalictrum minus), crow garlic (Allium vineale), ploughman’s spikenard (Inula conzyae), bloody crane’s bill (Geranium sanguineum), viper’s bugloss in jaw-dropping thousands (Echium vulgare), carline thistle (Carlina vulgaris) and the Uig hawkweed (Hieracium uiginskyense). Dave enthusiastically explained some principles of the identification of the notorious apomictic hawkweeds which will stimulate our future field trips and could be a lifetime’s study in themselves.

Maiden Pink (Dianthus deltoides)

Maiden Pink (Dianthus deltoides)


One particular highlight, demanding expressions of emotion not normally witnessed in well-behaved botanists, was the maiden pink (Dianthus deltoides), vivid against the background greens and yellows. Large numbers of orchids (pyramidal (Anacamptis pyramidalis), northern marsh (Dactyloriza purpurella), common spotted (Dactylorhyza fuchsii), bee (Ophrys apifera) and marsh fragrant (Gymnadenia densiflora)) were also present.

A large pond and damper area provided slender spike rush (Eleocharis uniglumis), green ribbed sedge (Carex binerva), frog (Juncus ranarius) and toad rush (Juncus bufonius), hemlock (Conium maculatum) and common (Schoenoplectus lacustris), sea (Bolboschoenus maritimus)and grey clubrush (Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani).

Other highlights included parsley water dropwort (Oenanthe lachenalii), lesser centuary (Centaurium pulchellum) and hare’s tail grass (Lagurus ovatus), not to mention narrow leaved ragwort (Senecio inaequidens) and sea wormwood (Artimesia maritima).

Some plants were totally out of context, particularly naturalised garden escapees in a slag moonscape with rampant bushy snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus) growing apparently without soil in vivid colours against a backdrop of abandoned steel manufacturing plant, sweet william (Dianthus barbatus) nestling amongst discarded limestone boulders and orange bladder senna (Colutea arborescens) scrub.

Many thanks to Dave for leading, and Kerry for organising this outstanding occasion.

Hazel Mitford

South Gare plant list

Upper Teesdale, Tuesday 25th June 2019

11 of us assembled at the Bowlees Visitor Centre, it was especially good to see Liz our brand-new member on such an adventurous first outing!

The weather was not very propitious on this Tuesday morning, it was nearly raining and the forecast was poor. To add insult to injury we were assailed by a cloud of midges, but fortunately Charlotte was able to arm us all with military grade repellent!

However, once we set off, the profusion of flowers put the weather right out of our minds. (Note that only the highlights are mentioned in this report – a full list of the plants seen, with their scientific names, can be found by using the link below.)

Meadow flowers in Upper Teesdale

Meadow flowers in Upper Teesdale


A stone’s throw from the car park had us admiring a typical upland hay meadow – according to the literature there are 120 plant species per field in this area, 30 species within arm’s reach! As we were the other side of a wall we couldn’t actually reach any of them, but we could easily pick out Yellow Rattle, Red Clover, Pignut, Meadow Buttercup, Ragged Robin, and a kaleidoscope of waving grass heads.

On down the path, we saw plenty of Lady’s-mantle but did not attempt to name it exactly – there are many microspecies of lady’s-mantle, three found only in Teesdale.

A little flush of water by the path yielded some aquatic mosses such as Fontinalis antipyretica and Cinclidotus fontinaloides, and also the fragile-looking Bog Stitchwort and Slender Speedwell.

Arrived at the River Tees, flowing strongly after rain, we found much of interest on the exposed limestone rock bed. Several sedges – Flat-sedge living up to its name – Meadow Oat-grass and Mat-grass, Quaking-grass and Sweet Vernal, and the curious Marsh Arrowgrass. There were striking white fossils in the wet black limestone – crinoids and belemnites, and a large brachiopod, according to the booklet called ‘Giganticoproductus’! The locals call this rock “cockleshell limestone”.

Members on the way to Holwick Scars

Members on the way to Holwick Scars


We now strolled up through several ascending meadows, flowery as before, and emerging onto a minor road encountered a different suite of flowers growing in the verges, such as Dame’s-violet, and Wood Crane’s-bill, with nearby Meadow Crane’s-bill so that we could note the distinguishing features. There were also Bistort and Borage, Comfrey and Columbine – some of these flowers being suspiciously close to the adjoining cottage gardens….

The road now continued as a rough track up into the hills, and we had a spectacular view of Holwick Scars, a continuation of the Whinsill, which is a Dolerite seam made of igneous rock which has been forced between the layers of Carboniferous limestone. This Dolerite is hard and so exposed by erosion at sites such as this and in the waterfalls of Low and High Force. The high point of this grassy hillside was a beautiful array of mountain pansies. Most were dark purple, some yellow, all facing the same way – a very tempting photographic subject!

Mountain Pansy (Viola lutea)

Mountain Pansy (Viola lutea)


Other plants along here included the deeply dissected Parsley Fern, Lemon-scented Fern stabilising the screes, Juniper and Wavy Hair-grass.

After lunch in a spot cunningly chosen by Richard to shield us from the now fairly persistent rain, we returned to the river by a different series of meadows where we were able to add some orchids to the list.

The return path by the river down from Low Force is one of the richest botanical sites in the area. Here was abundant Melancholy Thistle, not fully in flower, Alpine Bistort with its intriguing bulbils, Saw-wort, another uncommon plant, Goldenrod, and much more including various intriguing plants which were not yet in flower and so hard to identify. Spring comes late in upper Teesdale.

Finally back across the river, we returned to the visitor centre by various routes, passing the impressive stands of Good King Henry on the approach path. It had been a long day as we had been slowed down by the abundance and variety of the plants! Many thanks to Richard, our so-knowledgeable leader, without whom we would never have found, nor identified many of them!

Muff

Teesdale Plant List

Askham Bog Nature Reserve, Tuesday 18th June 2019

Mediaeval ditch, Askham Bog

Mediaeval ditch, Askham Bog


17 members took part. We were fortunate that this meeting was led by renowned botanist, Alastair Fitter, Professor of Biology of the University of York and Chair of the Management Committee of this Yorkshire Wildlife Trust reserve since 1974. Several of the group had botanical field guides authored and co-authored by our guide. Such is the importance in terms of biological diversity that in 2016 the Trust was pleased to welcome Sir David Attenborough to Askham Bog. For its size it has more species than anywhere else in Yorkshire. The base-rich fringes vary 10,000-fold in pH from the acid centre and the bog is effectively a merging of wet westerly habitats with East Anglian fen, together providing a northern outpost for quite rare species.

Alastair Fitter and HDNS members around Royal Fern

Alastair Fitter and HDNS members around Royal Fern


Developers want to build 1000 houses just 200m from the Reserve. The reserve is already hemmed in on three sides with roads and railway and this would completely isolate it from potential biological corridors. The most pressing issue is that the water table on the reserve would drop dramatically and the reserve would dry out. The priority for management of the reserve is to keep the water in the reserve at all costs. The YWT are currently opposing the development.

Professor Fitter had set up a moth trap the previous evening near the entrance to the reserve and opened it while we were there. Of particular interest was the Blotched Emerald Comibaena bajularia.

Fertile fronds of Osmunda regalis (Kerry Morrison)

Fertile fronds of Osmunda regalis (Kerry Morrison)

Professor Fitter gave us a brief history of the site and explained how, as the ice melted, a lake was left by a retreating glacier. The peat dome is now gradually restoring itself following a long history of peat removal. The management of the reserve includes some peat cutting. The site has a network of medieval ditches which were used to remove the peat by punt. In the days of steam trains the vegetation was kept down to some extent by fires caused by the steam trains running close by. Now this is the task of the volunteers. Exmoor ponies graze parts of the reserve. The Alder, Alnus glutinosa, has to be cleared by hand as it is not eaten by grazing animals. One of the star plants of the reserve is Royal Fern Osmunda regalis. We saw small plants about 30 years old which were 30cm tall and also plants of 2.5 metres tall. We were told that the larger specimens were probably the oldest living things in York, being over 200 years old. The Royal Fern requires bare peat to regenerate. In times gone by the Royal Ferns were sold in York market. One of the other plants of note we saw was Bog Myrtle, Myrica gale. A road near the reserve is named Gale Lane, almost certainly after the plant. As we worked our way round the Reserve we saw Marsh Fern, Thelypteris palustris, the leaves of Marsh Violet, Viola palustris, and Water Violet, Hottonia palustris. Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary, Boloria selene, which feeds on marsh violet, were on the wing. We moved on to the raised bog where the old lake is higher than the surrounding area.

Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata)

Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata)


We made our way to Far Wood to see the Tufted Sedge, Carex elata, and the rare Gingerbread Sedge, Carex elongata. To our peril we were advised that the nettles, Urtica dioica, that we had to navigate through, favour a wet spring. They were rampant and nearly as tall as me.

Alastair left us at lunchtime to meet a visitor. We had lunch sitting on the boardwalk by the pond. We had a change of priority at this time and added Azure Damselfly, Coenagrion puella, Four-spotted Chaser, Libellula quadrimaculata, Large Red Damselfly, Pyrrhosoma nymphula, and Blue-tailed Damselfly, Ischnura elegans, to our records.

After lunch we spent time at Near Wood and added some more plants to our record of the day: Common marsh bedstraw, Galium palustre; Marsh Pennywort, Hydrocotyle vulgaris; Marsh Cinquefoil, Comarum palustre; Carnation Sedge, Carex panicea; Gingerbread sedge, Carex elongata; Star Sedge, Carex echinata; and Great Fen-sedge, Cladium mariscus, also known as Saw Sedge. This latter was an interesting plant, standing up to 2.5m with long saw-toothed edged leaves. The small fungus Common Eyelash, Scutellinia scutellata was found on damp soil. Mosses seen included Fringed Bog Moss Sphagnum fimbriatum, Spikey Bog Moss, Sphagnum squarrosum, Heart-leaved Spear-moss, Calliergon cordifolium and Bog Bead-moss, Aulacomnium palustre. Our last 3 species to enjoy were Meadow Thistle, Cirsium dissectum, and then Bee Orchid, Ophrys apifera and Pyramidal Orchid, Anacamptis pyramidalis alongside the car park.

Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera)

Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera)


We had a terrific day out. Our thanks go to our leader Professor Fitter and the Harrogate Naturalist members, Kerry and Muff, who planned the visit for us.

More information about the Reserve is available if you search on the internet and also the YWT handbook has some interesting text and a map of the reserve.

Valerie Holmes

 

Cow Myers, Tuesday 23rd May 2019

Leader: Dr Kevin Walker

HDNS members examining Alder Buckthorn (Frangula alnus) - 190523-113532_DMC-GX8_P1080822
The programme for the visit to Cow Myers promised Globeflower, orchids, Butterwort and Herb Paris. It delivered on all those – and much more. Fourteen HDNS members including Kevin Walker our leader, assembled at the Lindrick Livery stables, keen to be off exploring since several of us had not visited this particular site before. The weather forecast was warm and fair – perfect conditions for botanising.

Cow Myers is a very special place because it is both an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and a SINC (Site of Importance for Nature Conservation). The site contains an area of limestone irrigated by spring water, a series of wet woodland calcareous flushes.

As we walked through the first meadow spotting several hares through the long grasses, we were joined by Tom Ramsden the landowner, who lives at Sleningford Hall. Tom explained a little about the management of the land and how part of it had been recently grazed by Belted Galloway cattle.

Marsh Lousewort (Pedicularis palustris) - 190523-115335_DMC-GX8_P1080826The site is fringed with Alder Alnus glutinosa which is quite extensive in places. Close to the stream we found Globeflower Trollius europaeus and then Alder Buckthorn Frangula alnus, with its seedlings regenerating and forming scrub. Within the carr is a large clearing with many interesting plants including Marsh Lousewort Pedicularis palustris. This plant is a parasite and because it is reddish always looks to me as if somebody has tried to set fire to it. Close by, Bird’s-eye Primrose Primula farinosa was on show with its delicate lilac-pink petals. I was very excited to find Butterwort Pinguicula vulgaris a carnivorous plant complete with its violet and white flowers, as I often see its leaves but no flowers.

Tom Ramsden then invited us to have our lunch in the Witch-of-the-Woods House but we felt reluctant to go indoors on such a lovely day. We chose instead to lunch on the grass, or in a bog, depending upon how lucky you were with the seating plan.

Birdseye Primrose (Primula farinosa) - 190523-120247_DMC-GX8_P1080828After lunch we meandered into the woodland south of the River Laver, where we came across numerous plants of Herb-Paris Paris quadrifolia. The leaves of Grass of Parnassus Parnassia palustris and the tiny Bog Pimpernel Anagallis tenella were also present, but it was too early for the flowers. A tree highlight for some was finding Bay Willow Salix petandra, with its leaves smelling of balsam. It is also worth mentioning that the numbers of ferns, rushes and sedges we found were quite astonishing. They included Glaucous Sedge Carex flacca, Heath Woodrush Luzula multiflora ssp congesta, Broad Buckler Fern Dryopteris dilatata and Blunt-flowered Rush Juncus subnodulosus. Our final flowers of the day were Early-purple Orchids Orchis mascula in the hedgerows as we drove home. In total our list exceeded well over 100 species. See attached.

Thank you to Kevin Walker for leading and to Muff Upsall for organising.

Sonia Starbuck

Cow Myers plant list

HDNS Cow Myers bryophytes

Upper Nidderdale, Tuesday 30th April 2019

We soon left the low ground fog behind and, by 10 a.m. when we reached Gouthwaite, the sun was shining. The early team had stopped at Wath for Dipper and, although that was unproductive, they did see Treecreeper and hear Green Woodpecker. In the car park at Gouthwaite, a Garden Warbler gave good views as it sang from a nearby tree. The low water level at Gouthwaite Reservoir produced much activity amongst the waders present with Common Sandpipers and Little Ringed Plovers displaying, Dunlins trilling, Common Redshanks and Oystercatchers forever flying and calling. A fine drake Pintail gave excellent close views. A Common Buzzard and a Red Grouse were seen on the western hillside.


We moved on to Lofthouse and the Scar road, stopping beside the Fire Station building to look for the Dipper which is usually seen there, but the water level in the Nidd was extremely low and the rocks were well above the water. No Dipper was present but a Grey Wagtail was eventually found. A Stoat crossed the road as we drove up to Scar House Reservoir. The weather was exceptionally warm for Scar House! After much searching, a pair of Ring Ouzels was found along with several Wheatears. Two Common Buzzards were also seen on the skyline.


After lunch, the group walked to the dam and continued along the road where a cuckoo called from across the reservoir. A search for Crossbills seen recently in the area was unsuccessful but a pair of Siskins obliged. As we returned along the Scar road, our first stop was at Newhouses to look for Pied Flycatchers in woodland where nest boxes have been placed for them. A fine male was found immediately, giving everyone close views as it sang — the photographers were very happy! A stop at the tunnel was unproductive and so we moved on to stop again at the Gouthwaite viewing area for a final look. Scanning the hillside across the reservoir two birds were seen perched above the skyline. Two years ago Black Grouse had been seen and they were a possibility. The site ruled out Red Grouse and, thanks to a member with some high-tech. optics, Black Grouse was confirmed when white underwings were seen as they dropped down and flew up again from time to time.
An excellent end to a most productive day in glorious weather. A great team effort producing 65 species on the day
June Atkinson


Nidderdale Species List

RSPB Fairburn Ings, Tuesday 7th May 2019

Common Pochard and Red-crested Pochard (Nick Gaunt)

Common Pochard and Red-crested Pochard (Nick Gaunt)


As we travelled south, we left the dismal wet morning behind to arrive at Fairburn where it was bright and dry. From the centre car park, Reed and Sedge Warblers were singing in the reed beds and Whitethroat was seen. Many Swifts were circling overhead; Blackcap and Garden Warbler were also singing and Tree sparrows were busy at the feeding station. From the centre, our first stop was at the hide from which we saw Sand Martins at the wall. Next along the stream to the Kingfisher screen, just in time to see the hoped-for species before it flew off. We then made our way up onto the coal tip trail where four Little Grebes and a Pied Wagtail were on the first lagoon while three Spoonbills flew overhead. Red-legged Partridges were seen across the river. Sky Lark and Willow Warbler were singing, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatch called.
Little Egret (Nick Gaunt)

Little Egret (Nick Gaunt)


As we approached the two lagoons, a Bittern was booming and a good look around produced a drake Red-crested Pochard, Little Ringed Plovers, several pairs of Little Grebes, numerous Common Pochards, Great Crested Grebe with young with several singing Sedge Warblers and a Reed Warbler. A Cuckoo called and was seen as it perched on a fence post before flying towards the group, this was the first of two sightings there. Looking across the reserve to the moat, a pair of Spoonbills was at the nest site with a Grey Heron, while a Little Egret was seen in a nearby field. A shout of ‘Bittern’ excited us all, the bird obligingly flew across in front of us and dropped into the reed bed to everyone’s delight! Another Cuckoo flew across and landed on a nearby post. An Egyptian Goose was located in a distant field. On our return, a strange ‘chack, chack’ call was heard from the trees and then the mystery bird flew out — a Green Woodpecker, which had been heard calling previously!
Avocet (Nick Gaunt)

Avocet (Nick Gaunt)


After lunch we drove to Lindyke and, as we walked along the track, three Avocets flew over and two later dropped in front of the hide. From there we saw a Common Tern, Dunlin, Common Sandpiper, Shoveler, Shelduck and Gadwall. Further along, a burst of song announced a Cetti’s Warbler, it was so close and at first we could not see it, but we persevered until we did! A Lesser Whitethroat perched up well for us too. As we walked along the embankment a Kingfisher was seen but a Garden Warbler refused to show but, on our way back, a Peregrine Falcon flew overhead. A splendid end to a great day’s birdwatching and in perfect weather. Well done to the team for finding 76 species, exceeding last year’s total of 75 species.

June Atkinson


HDNS Fairburn Ings 7May19 Species List

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