WIld flowers at Ledsham Vale

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.

autumn lady's tresses

autumn lady’s tresses

autumn gentian

autumn gentian

Wildflower walk, Old Moor RSPB reserve

A lovely morning for our wildflower walk with a full range of wonderful colours from white hedge bindweed, sneezewort, wild carrot, white water lily to the yellows of wild honeysuckle, yellow loosestrife, fleabane, ribbed melilot and greater spearwort to the pink hues of purple loosestrife, goat’s rue, common centaury and slender speedwell. This handsome puss moth caterpillar was camouflaged well amongst the willow and we spent a while admiring it.

Puss moth caterpillar

Puss moth caterpillar

Wood Anemones at Brockadale

I’ve just returned from a few days photography in Wiltshire/Dorset where I’ve been photographing firecrest, great bustard and Dartford warbler and, as the spring weather continued, today I went over to Brockadale to see what spring flowers were on offer. The cowslips are not yet in bloom and the highland cattle seem to be making a bit of a mess of the meadow so I’m not sure how well the cowslips will do this year. The wood anemone on the hillside are spreading well but deep in the woods, they somehow looked more at home in the dappled spring light.

wood anemone Spring migrant birds included blackcap and chiffchaff but no willow warbler yet, There were plenty of song thrushes singing which was a welcome sound

Botany Group – Ledsham Vale

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.

Botany Group Visit to Townclose Hills

The weather was overcast but pleasant for our botany walk at this nature reserve near Kippax which is managed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.

White Bryony

White Bryony

The group identified over fifty species of wildflower during the walk including clustered bellflowers, wild basil, burnet saxifrage, white bryony, field scabious and masses of knapweed. It was surprising to see a white version of greater knapweed.  Harebell and yellow-wort were also seen.

White form of Greater Knapweed

White form of Greater Knapweed

 

Harebells

Harebells

Rabbit Ings wildflowers

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.

Yellow-wort at Rabbit Ings

Yellow-wort at Rabbit Ings

common centaury at Rabbit Ings

common centaury at Rabbit Ings

wildflower walk at Heath Common

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.

wildflowers Heath Common

Wormstall Woods flower walk

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.

Goldilocks buttercup

Goldilocks buttercup

Spurge laurel

Spurge laurel

Sweep’s brushes at Ackworth School

A sure sign of spring is the flowering of field wood-rush (Luzula campestris), which is also known as sweep’s brushes. This species likes to grow in damp lawns, where it is usually inconspicuous but becomes more obvious when the dark flower heads appear in patches.

sweeps brushes (Luzula campestris)

sweeps brushes (Luzula campestris) at Ackworth School

sweeps brushes (Luzula campestris)

sweeps brushes (Luzula campestris) at Ackworth School

sweeps brushes (Luzula campestris)

sweeps brushes (Luzula campestris) at Ackworth School

Wildlife sightings from Nostell Priory

Pauline’s report on 16 February of the area’s first flowering colt’s-foot of the year encouraged a visit to a good spot for this plant on my regular walks around the Nostell Priory estate.  I saw the first flowers here much later at the start of this month.  However, recent wildflower sightings over the last few days have included primrose, dog’s mercury and male yew trees that have been dusting passersby with clouds of pollen.  Interestingly, the female and male flowers on dog’s mercury and yew trees grow on separate plants.  Another welcome flower of spring noticed on my walks at Nostell is the lesser celandine growing in woodland and damp places. It belongs to the buttercup family whereas the greater celandine is a member of the poppy family.  It just shows common English names can be confusing.  An image of the lesser celandine is attached.  Bird sightings have included the usual woodland suspects together with frequent calls of a green woodpecker.  The lower lake gives opportunities to still get good views of the goosanders and grey herons, images of which are attached.

Goosander (female)

Goosander (female) at Nostell

Grey Heron

Grey Heron

Lesser celandine

Lesser celandine