2017/18 Field Meeting Reports

 2017/2018 Summer Field Trips  

Visit to Nosterfield Nature Reserve on 27th July 2017

Simon Warwick of the Lower Ure Conservation Trust took members into normally closed parts of the Nosterfield Nature Reserve.

More than 50 species of plants were found including Mudwort, Red Bartsia, Common Centaury, Golden Dock, Twayblade, and numerous Common Spotted & Marsh Orchids seed-heads.

A potential Frog Orchid hybrid and a patch of Fragrant Orchids that didn'quite match book descriptions challenged us: so photos were taken for later examination.

Low water levels had allowed fox predation of birds nesting on the islands. Avocets with nearby nests or chicks scolded us, and Oystercatchers & Curlews complained at our progress. On one pool bordered by Monkey Flower a Great-crested Grebe was accompanied by its juvenile still showing its humbug-striped head. Moorhen, two Little Grebes, and a Coot with a juvenile were present, and a small flock of Mallard in eclipse plumage flew away.

Simon explained various management schemes, including the 'rabbit tunnels' through the perimeter fence. Short grass encourages flowering plants: but the tunnels can be turned into traps when rabbits are too many.

Earlier rain meant few butterflies, but Simon showed us a Bloody-nosed Beetle: whechallenged it secretes a drop of smelly liquid resembling blood from its nose!

October Autumn Colour 2017

Members gathered near West Witton on Saturday 28th October for our last field meeting of 2017, traditionally an autumn colours walk. Although recent winds had blown off many leaves from the trees, the riverside Beech and Oak still wore attractive tints. If these were less impressive this year the accompanying abundance and variety of fungi more than compensated.

We walked first to Lord's Bridge, where Kingfisher was glimpsed, before continuing upstream to Redmire Force. On the bank and amongst the drumlins a more knowledgeable member pointed out many species of fungi including several Waxcaps (Snowy, Parrot, Cedarwood, Meadow, Scarlet, Golden), Wrinkled Club, Dusky Puffball, Grey-spotted Amanita, Pleated Inkcap, Glistening Inkcap, Shaggy Bracket, Chicken of the Woods, Beechwood Sickener, Candlesnuff, Field Mushroom, Yellow Fieldcap, Crested Coral, Pettycoat Motttlegill, Dung Roundhead, Yellow Stagshorn, and the tiny Moss-bell. There were impressive "fairy" rings of Clouded Funnel and Field Blewit, one measured 11m across. After fields a pleasant green lane led into the village. Also seen were birds: Buzzard, Fieldfare and Wren; and over 30 species of flowers, including Harebell still flowering on Lord's Bridge.

Although the afternoon was dull and blustery all agreed the outing worthwhile and enjoyable. 


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.


Marsett Rigg 11th June 2018 

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.

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.

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.

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.