2018 and 19 Field Meeting Reports

A Wet afternoon - 25th April


Members of the Yoredale Natural History Society met Di Bell at Lord's Bridge on 25th April for a circular walk via Wensley Bridge. The trees coming into leaf looked very pretty with their different shades. Almost every common kind of spring flower was seen: ground ivy, greater and wood stitchworts, marsh marigold, primrose, cowslip, false oxlip, butterbur - to name just a few. Bluebell fragrance filled the air. Parts of this path are very wide just like a motorway, but others treacherous with gnarled roots: but it is rightly a very popular walk. A few fish rippled the river's surface. Orange-tip butterflies were abundant. During the recent floods many tree roots had been washed clean out, making delicate shapes like coral as would be found on sea reefs. Birds included goosander, common sandpiper, sand martin and many calling warblers. Perhaps the highlight was a couple of healthy morels for Di and Lenny's tea!

Harmby to Spennithorne 16th April 

Eleven members of the YNHS set off from Harmby Village Hall down Middleham Lane, which is surprisingly dry these days, spying the recently rescued slurry tanker, which had been swept from above Middleham Bridge to dock on a sandbank 1/2 mile lower down the river.

Due to the recent cold snap of weather plant life had been on hold for a couple of weeks, however the eagle eyed soon were spotting the usual early spring and some mixed flowers ie Greater Willowherb, Creeping Buttercup, Lesser Burdock, Red Campion, Wild Arum, Fools Water-cress and the aptly named Townhall Clock (Muscatel) - which has faces on all four sides.

Bird life was sparse but the Oystercatchers, Black-headed Gulls and Rooks were busy.

A Peacock Butterfly and Red-tailed Bumble-bee were seen enjoying the sun.

As we walked past the ford and up Harmby Beck Wood members spotted Wild Garlic, Peppermint, Cow Parsley, Bluebell, Wood Anemone, Butterbur, Creeping Jenny, Butcher's Broom, Sweet Violet, Angelica, and other woodland species.

The walk concluded by walking back from Spennithorne to Harmby admiring the gardens, which had some magnificent Aubrieta displays. 


Autumn Colour walk, October 2018

On Saturday October 27th., the last day of British Summer Time, members gathered on the village green in West Burton for our traditional "Autumn Colours" walk. After walking in Walden as far as Cote Bridge, the party returned to the edge of the village and followed field paths, with fine views across to Castle Bolton, skirting Newbiggin to the main Bishopdale road. The route continued on quiet lanes and paths around Thoralby and along Eastfield Lane to Eshington Bridge. We returned across the fields to West Burton and ended the walk with a visit to the falls. They were spectacular with the autumn colours. Birds seen included French partridge, a kestrel and a wren. Fungi noted were shaggy parasol, snowy and field waxcaps. Some late flowers were seen including yarrow, white dead nettle, herb robert, red campion and meadowsweet. Finally, on the wall at the entrance to the falls, a few very late fairy foxgloves were admired. Here too Deborah pointed out the very rare Leers' Many-leaved Sedge, often referred to simply as either Leers' Sedge or Many-leaved Sedge: Carex divulsa var leesii. It was a very enjoyable walk to end our 2018 program of field meetings.


Marsett Rigg 11th June 2018 

Askrigg Meadows July 2018 

It was a hot and sunny day when a group of 15 or so members met at Worton Bridge to walk to Askrigg meadows. Unfortunately due to the exceptionally hot and dry weather the meadows had already been cut for hay. However despite this we found a wide variety of flowers in the edges of the fields, on the river bank and in the hedgerows. These included pink purslane, melancholy thistle, greater burnet, betony, lesser stitchwort, knapweed, wood and meadow geranium. There were several mallard families on the river together with black headed gulls. Sand martins were flying over the river catching a plentiful supply of insects. Many mining bees Dasypoda altercator nested in the river-bank. A family of grey wagtails was observed from Worton Bridge. Whilst we did not see the colourful meadow flowers envisaged when the date was set for this walk earlier in the year everyone agreed that they had been surprised by what we did find in what at first glance appeared to be a dry barren grassland.


Flower identification, Keld, 30th June 2018 

On Saturday June 30th three members of the Yoredale Natural History Society led their annual wild-flower walk for the Keld Countryside and Heritage Centre. With twelve visitors we explored the flowery lane down the newly surfaced Swale Way to cross the Swale and up to East Gill Falls. A good variety of flowers were seen, including a few Orchids, and our first Melancholy Thistles. A Red Kite was being "seen-off" by three noisy Oystercatchers. Next was the spectacular section shared by the Coast-to-Coast route, and down to Swinner Gill smelting hearth, where our picnic was enjoyed.

The next section was a very different habitat, along the valley floor to cross Rampsholme Bridge before entering the famous Muker hay meadows. Wheatear, Chaffinch, some more Oystercatchers, and a Small-blue butterfly were seen. This year the meadows were a bit past their best following a month's hot dry weather, but there were still plenty of flowers to be seen and identified, and attention was paid to those which were edible and tasted best.

For us humans, the weather was perfect: warm and sunny, with a gentle breeze, enhancing our enjoyment, and the walk being downhill was relaxed.


Fourteen members arrived at this old Magnesium Limestone Quarry few had visited before, though well know to the leader Leonard Shepherd who lived nearby in his youth.

After a wet spring followed by the start of a heat wave there were over 40 species of flower in bloom. We located 5 orchids in flower being common spotted, Twayblade (much smaller than usual this year), pyramidal, fragrant and bee orchid. Our chair Deborah Millward became a little exited to find squincywort on its northern limit East of the Pennines!

Butterflies were plentiful though the visit was to early for the rare White Letter Hairstreaks that fly around the elms in early July. There were enormous Dryad Saddle for mushroom experts.

By the time you read this in our Bulletin next seasons cowslips could be coming into bloom.


Gunnerside Meadows Report June 16th 2018

Torrential rain in Leyburn and Richmond and a forecast for more to follow meant that the walk was actually cancelled.

However an intrepid three turned up oblivious to this and decided to proceed anyway for a thoroughly rewarding walk. It was a delightful time and year and both the spring and early summer flowers were out together. The riverside on the north bank down stream from the bridge is very natural and undisturbed and was a mass of flowers. But it was the birds that stole the day. We saw at least three broods of common sandpiper working the riverside and the obligatory dipper. A mallard had a string of small ducklings dabbling below a willow and a family of great tits searched for insects in the riverside trees. A nuthatch and redstart were also busy in the trees.

Our side of the river was very quiet but the other side hosted a sponsored walk and one wondered if they saw half as much.

We lunched just short of Isles Bridge, when it did just drizzle a little. On the bridge two garden escapes have become established Alyssum saxatile (golden dust) and Alchemilla mollis (garden lady'smantle). The sponsored walk having finished we again had the path to ourselves back to Gunnerside passing wonderful white and deep pink roses which we struggled to identify beyond the downy rose group. It was on this bank that we saw a whole family of redstarts really close up, what a treat.


Swaledale Festival walks - June 2018

Each year YNHS is privileged to lead 2 nature walks for the Swaledale Festival, as part of their program: and it's a joy that they always sell out early. They are usually linked to 4pm concerts in local churches, this time in Low Row, and Gunnerside, both singularly lovely in bright sunshine. About an half-dozen members mingle with the ticket purchasers, to give all access to discussion and sharing of knowledge, and part way round we stop to picnic.

From near Isles Bridge we wended our way up steep slopes to Smarber, then through Rowleth Wood (here we found our only orchid, the late spring having perturbed our quest for more orchids). After ascending to a much higher level to admire the wonderful views, we saw Mountain Pansy etc, but we spent so much time absorbed that we then cut short back to our base in time for cello and organ in Melbecks church.

The second week's walk was from Gunnerside, through floral and not floral meadows: a good opportunity to explain the differences between pasture and meadow, between hay and silage, and their implications for biodiversity, alongside the river (picnic), and back through more meadows. Then Aurora Percussion in the chapel. 


Ellington Firth Wood May 2018 

A good turn out of 20 members met up to walk the circular wood walk of a mile and a half, lead by John and Elaine Nuttall.
It was a fine but cold day with the late spring many flowers were late to show. However the group still managed to spot around 35 different species comprising of Ground Ivy, Crosswort, Red Campion, White Dead Nettle, Forget-me-nots, Bittercress, Wood Sorrell, Wood Anemone, False Straw, Golden Saxifrage, Lord & Ladies, Gold and White Bluebells etc.
The birds were quiet due to the cold though a Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen early on and surprisingly a Tawny Owl was hooting.
A Mallard with 8 ducklings were on a flooded area only the day before but she had moved them to a safer place on the day we visited.
The wood is mainly composed of Sycamore, but there was some evidence of Ash die back.
Members were encouraged to return over the next few weeks to witness the beautiful Bluebell display
at its peak.


RSPB Fairburn Ings May 2018

On May 10th members of YNHS visited RSPB Fairburn Ings near Castleford. Over the last 60 years this has changed from coal face to wild place; an old industrial site now a wild life haven.
Spring had arrived here 2 weeks earlier than in Wensleydale. The hawthorn was full of blossom & the newly arrived warblers sang from the bushes . Willow warbler, chiffchaff, blackcap & white throat were all singing.

From the more recently reclaimed area we were able to overlook 'The Moat', an area of pools & willow where herons & little egrets nest. Also there was a large number of cormorants nests. Many swifts were chasing insects low over the path & pools as we walked along.
It was too early in the year for an abundance of flowers but more than 20 species were recorded with the promise of more to come.

Though we spent almost 4 hours we only managed to see the newer part of the reserve. A return visit to the more mature area would produce an even longer list of birds & flowers.
A full list of species is available from YNHS.


Redmire, 24th April 2018

On a drear drizzly windy afternoon 18 members and guests of Yoredale Natural History Society parked by Redmire Church to explore the wonders of the River Ure bank.

Down Well Lane we encountered the first of many Moschatel in flower. Near the sulphurous spring ("Redmire Spa") Goosander fished in the river.

Upstream we investigated the ancient mill site and followed the next medieval cart track down its ford, before ascending the "ladder" to the top of Redmire Force.

Higher we found carpets of Wood Anenome and Bluebell, and the first Early Purple Orchid.

Swallow, Sand Martin, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Dipper and Grey Wagtail were identified, and Greater Celandine promised a fine show in Mill Lane, by which time we were wet but happy.

Coverdale, April 19th 2018
Along the lane towards East Witton Lodge white Sweet Violet flowered in abundance.

Diane Bell welcomed Yoredale Natural History Society members to her favourite walk along Cover Scar.

As they parked their cars a lone Swallow that had arrived on 4th April twittered in the sunshine on the telephone wire above. With spring being about 3 weeks late, we could not our usually spectacular "Flower Show", but delicate Primrose, False Oxlip, and Daffodil abounded.

Several Hares chased about. Greater-spotted Woodpecker, Magpie, Heron, Mallard, Greylag were seen, and many Jackdaw were seen carrying twigs to make their nests.