Instead of ‘birding’ our group were looking at the huge variety of wildflowers now establishing in this relatively new RSPB nature park. Just looking around the edge of car park area we saw bristly ox-tongue, cut leaved cranesbill, spotted medick, water figwort, wood forget-me-not and in the fenced area clumps of weld and celery leaved buttercup. Coming down the hill the grassland glowed golden with meadow and creeping buttercups interspersed with the bright white of ox-eye daisy, to the right of the path yellow rattle grew amongst the crosswort, hairy tare, red campion, a clump of hemlock water dropwort and our last pause was to admire a single stem of salsify, a garden escape but still a pleasure to see.
I had a quick trip down to Haig yesterday. Despite my efforts earlier in the year, it is getting pretty overgrown. It is full of singing blackcap; willow, sedge, and reed warblers, reed buntings and a load of bird song I do not know. Lots of damsel flies and mating dingy skippers, plus one fresh four-spotted chaser. I also heard barking deer. There were no orchids yet and no hirundines which did surprise me.
I also heard skylark singing, saw a small tortoiseshell, a pair of yellowhammers and a substantial patch of butterbur . All this along the canal at Altofts this afternoon.
My last report of finding wildflowers on 4th January this year all seems even more remarkable now following the recent snow. I attach a photo of our Wrenthorpe garden taken yesterday 17 January 2016. It reminded me of a similar spell of weather during 2013 and I attach a photo of a collared dove in the garden taken on 21 January of that year. This dove like many other birds were struggling to find food and were queuing at the feeders. It perhaps is also a reminder of how much wild birds appreciate our help in such changeable weather.
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.
How exiting can a bleary-eyed glimpse out of the upstairs windows be on a grey and grim morning at the end of February. Usually not at all, but this morning was different when I slowly focused on a sparrowhawk perched very quietly on the brick wall in my Wrenthorpe garden. Understandably, the usual sparrows and other small birds that normally feed on my offerings were no where to be seen! The photo was taken in low light and through the window, but hopefully it still shows what a really handsome bird it is.