t was a warm, muggy cloudy morning for our last walk of the season where our aim was to find autumn lady’s tresses, a tiny spiralling flower hiding in low grass. Amongst the damp grass along the main path we passed white, red and bladder campion as well as agrimony, lady’s bedstraw and, as the path widens out to the sunny bank, harebells. Here also we had rock rose, eyebright, fairy flax and quantities of autumn gentian, common centaury amongst field scabious, small scabious. On the bumpy knoll where the leaves of the pasque flower could still be seen, we found devil’s-bit-scabious and plenty of yellow-wort and our target spoecies – autumn lady’s tresses. A number of our walks have been rained off this year so it was good to finish with such a rewarding morning at the flower rich site.
Anglers CP has always been a favourite for bird watching but the wildflowers are also improving year by year: dog roses, guelder rose and dogwood are in full splendour at the moment edging the path as we passed the right hand field, full of meadow buttercup, lady’s smock and red clover. Interspersed amongst these flowers were northern marsh orchid, although possibly these have hybridised with southern marsh orchid, and also a few common spotted orchid. Yellow flag, lesser stitchwort and mouse- ear grew by the water’s edge as we turned right towards the bird hide. Hundreds of orchids can be seen along this path, still coming into flower, a real feast for the eyes. As we turned back onto the main path, broad-leaved willow-herb and cut-leaved cranesbill were coming into flower alongside clumps of creeping buttercup, red campion and hemlock.
A chill wind caught us as we walked up the sloping track brightened by dog’s-mercury, cuckoo pint, white dead-nettle and a clump of hairy violet. We stopped to admire clumps of goldilocks buttercups amongst the celandine, up in the woodland we began to focus on tiny common dog violets with their pale, notched spur nestling amongst the dried autumn leaves.
Climbing up the path further into the woodland early dog violet, with its dark unnotched spur became more prevalent among large patches of anemone, their flowers closed waiting for the sun to come through. Early purple orchid was well in flower alongside sanicle and bluebells. Bushes of spurge laurel had finished flowering. We carried on through the wood until we came to a stile to take us back down onto the footpath through the meadow, the sun was out by this time and orange-tip, peacock and tortoiseshell butterflies enjoyed the ground ivy, red dead-nettle and celandine on the edge of the woodland, with a variety of bees including bee fly. Walking back towards the track we saw butterbur, shepherd’s purse, slender speedwell, germander speedwell, wood speedwell and crosswort……a good morning’s walk.
As the sun was warming up nicely we decided to take a look on the other side of the road at Ledsham vale and were well rewarded by the beautiful pasque flower in full bloom, the best we had seen it for many a year.
It was a warm, clear morning for our last flower walk of the season. The lack of rainfall has taken its toll on the vale which, on first glance looked dry and parched, lacking the lush green and purple haze of scabious present on previous visits at this time of year, but further into the vale we began to see the flowers that we hoped to see. All three scabious were identified, small, field and devil’s-bit although not as abundant as previous years, red bartsia, harebells, fairy flax, betony and restharrow were all plentiful as were yellow-wort and autumn gentian. We failed to find autumn ladies-tresses although one of our group had seen it on the vale in the last few days but just failed to locate it! Corn sowthistle, common rock-rose, milk-wort, ladies bedstraw, agrimony, yarrow, white campion and the wonderfully named traveller’s joy were a delight to see. Large numbers of meadow and common grasshoppers jumped about around our feet and a buzzard soared above the vale, a really beautiful last outing of the season.
What a scorching day for our walk around Rabbit Ings, we were fortunate to be accompanied by one of the rangers, Tom, who let us take the cars up onto the established heath area where heather is now thriving, saving us the long walk up the hill. Goats-rue was abundant, also imperforate St John’s wort, lesser trefoil and weld. Under the shade of young birch we found individual yellow-wort, beautiful clumps of common centaury amongst white bedstraw, wild carrot, viper’s bugloss and trailing tormentil.
In the bright sunshine small skippers, ringlets and meadow brown butterflies fluttered. Water has unexpectedly gathered in an area just below the car park attracting a heron, the swans have managed to rear four cygnets this year and there were numerous swifts darting about.
A pleasantly mild day as we set off from the car park down towards the Pinfold passing yarrow, lesser trefoil, common cat’s ear, cut leaf crane’s bill and pignut pausing briefly at the Pinfold to admire foxglove, heath groundsel, red and white campion. Continuing down to the pond which was completely encircled by a mass of bright yellow lesser spearwort, the banking was dotted with heath bedstraw amidst tormentil and bird’s foot trefoil, lady’s bedstraw was flowering interspersed by a few poppies. Lesser stitchwort and field mouse-ear crept through the grass along the tarmac road to the left; we then crossed the road towards a waving sea of harebells, ox-eye daisy, agrimony and wild mignonette.
We were pleased to see a few butterflies, meadow brown and ringlets and of course a particular joy at this time of year are the foals running loose but not straying too far from their mothers.
It was a clear, warm day as we stopped to admire the first clump of sweet violets; sadly the distinctive perfume was indiscernible. To the right of the path lesser celandine interspersed with dark bluebells covered the field, we were convinced the bluebells were native as the flowers drooped mostly to one side – the flowers in the Spanish variety go all round the stem.
The goldilocks buttercup was hard to find amongst the celandine, the flower never looks complete as it only has two or three sparse petals. Entering the wood, the dry floor was carpeted with tiny common dog violet and early dog violet with a few patches of wood anemone, a little past their best. The spurge laurel which flowered in January now has plenty of seed pods which will turn black later on. Turning left onto the sunny bank at the edge of the field a variety of bees and peacock butterflies were feeding on the ground ivy, lesser celandine, barren strawberry and field speedwell.
Lofthouse is a fairly new nature reserve although it was reclaimed in the late 1980’s following the pit closure in 1981, a lottery grant utilised in 2013 has meant that the paths are now much improved.
Coming up to the gate on Lingwell Nook Lane red valerian, corn sow thistle, woodruff and wild sage grew along the roadside; turning left onto the gravelled path the first clearing was full of ribbed melilot, wild carrot, red bartsia and bird’s foot trefoil. The morning began to warm up bringing out numbers of meadow brown, gatekeeper and ringlet butterflies. Great willowherb, upright hedge parsley, common centaury, ox-eye daisies and many common spotted orchids brightened our path with tansy just coming into flower. Returning up the slope we identified this spindle tree but I’m sure there were others to see, the seed heads turn rosy-red when ripe and split open to display orangey red seeds.
Our group of about 12 were pleasantly surprised to be met by Pete Smith, with a collection of moths he had trapped on Saturday night, identified and put into magnifying boxes for us to see, including the beautiful carpet moth, snout moth, barred red moth, gold spangle moth and rarer muslin footman moth. Thanks Pete, for such an interesting start to our morning, thanks also to Paul Andrews, from the Butterfly Conservation Society who led, and shared his expert knowledge of Haw Park Wood on an interesting walk through the wood.
All the common species of butterfly were seen along the track to the cornfield, small skipper, speckled wood, gatekeeper, red admiral, small tortoiseshell and meadow brown with ringlets in abundance as we came under the canopy of the wood. Along the main path the bracken and foliage were covered in common blue damselfly. Wildflowers noted were slender St John’s wort, broad leaved helleborine (not quite inflower) and heath speedwell
Paul pointed out a colony of wild honey bees’ busy making honey in a hole halfway up a tree, not easy to see and becoming more of a rarity in recent years.
Primarily a bird watching paradise, Old Moor has developed into a varied habitat for wildflowers, butterflies, damselflies and dragonflies. On our short walk today we were able to enjoy meadow brown butterflies, ringlets and small skippers amongst the purple loose-strife, great willowherb, meadowsweet, bush vetch and meadow vetchling. Marsh (hybrid) orchids and common spotted orchids were coming to their end but marsh bedstraw, ribbed melilot and common centaury were just coming into flower. The ponds were enriched with common blue and blue tailed damsel flies hovering above the water lilies, broad leaved pondweed and yellow iris.