Rodley is a beautiful site for birds, flowers, butterflies and dragonflies and although just on the outskirts of Leeds on the ring road, it is well worth a visit, particularly as it is well maintained and has an interesting small, visitor centre
As we try and restrict our walks to a couple of hours we walked up the ramp onto the ‘butterfly bank’ which lived up to its name with a mass of bees and butterflies covering a large clump of crown vetch. The purples and pink of hemp agrimony, marjoram, field scabious, small scabious, nettle bellflower and musk mallow contrasted with the strong yellow of dark mullein. Turning right and arriving at the three well cared for ponds what a feast of different damp loving plants including corn marigolds, marsh woundwort, marsh cinquefoil, water plantain, water forget-me-not, amphibious bistort, gypsy wort, greater and lesser spearwort. A magical place to sit in the shade and enjoy the numerous damsel flies and dragonflies.
Beautiful Brockadale -what a variety of flowers and butterflies! Although we were too early for bee orchid, common spotted orchids were just coming into flower, perhaps a couple of weeks later than usual.. The car park is always a good place for meadow cranesbill, dovesfoot cranesbill, French cranesbill and cut-leaved cranesbill before heading onto the reserve. Moving on down the path passing bladder campion, white campion and white bryony, we turned left for a short distance as we had been told about a large patch of purple milk vetch which we may well have missed. We ended up on the main bank which was a mass of yellow rock rose mingled with hairy rock cress, greater stitchwort and fairy flax.
purple milk vetch
common spotted orchid
A glorious morning for a tranquil walk along the wildflower paths of 18th century Bramham Park, for a very small charge we were able to enjoy this peaceful garden awash with swathes of ramsons interspersed by leopards bane and the tilting heads of water avens. Large groups of twayblade were coming into flower amongst sanicle, pignut, common dog violet and tormentil. Milkwort nestled in the short grass with green field speedwell and sticky mouse-ear. Beautiful bugle sat amongst the barren and wild strawberry, while bulbous buttercup had still to reach its peak. In a few weeks time orchids will fill the unmown corners so a return visit would be worthwhile, a truly magical place to spend a morning.
Hetchell Wood was a delight in the spring sunshine with plenty of bluebells, lesser celandine interspersed by common dog violet and barren strawberry. Amongst the dogs mercury and greater stitchwort, sanicle was almost in flower. Taking the path across the meadow we stepped carefully to avoid the beautiful cowslips, common twayblade and wood anenomes continuing along the path flanked by shimmering white blackthorn bushes we scanned the bottom of the coppiced hazel looking for toothwort eventually finding this fine growth of the parasitic plant. The circular route took us past wonderful clumps of marsh marigolds with golden saxifrage clinging to the mud beneath. Yellow archangel and green alkanet on the roadside verge were admired before we reached our cars. A beautiful walk on a fine morning..
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
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.
northern marsh orchid
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.
Yellow-wort at Rabbit Ings
common centaury at Rabbit Ings
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.