Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Kirkstall Abbey

Undeterred by the downpour on Monday I ventured out to Kirkstall Abbey, pausing at St Stephen's churchyard Kirkstall, which was full of blossom and bluebells (sadly most appeared to be hybrids). This Garden Snail (Helix aspersa) offered a piggy back to its junior companion.

Also in bloom, Green Alkanet, Pentaglottis sempervirens, spotted with pink blossom from overhanging Cherry trees. Found mainly in shady areas, large bristly green leaves and clusters of vivid blue five petalled flowers which are edible used as decoration in drinks & salads.

A white variant of hybrid bluebell.

In the Abbey Walled Garden a rain soaked Clematis montana was in full bloom.

Grey clouds, Kirkstall Abbey & a display of Rodgersia in the foreground.
Business as usual for a trio of Goldfinch and a Mistle Thrush despite the drizzle.

A pair of Canada Geese on the River Aire.

Clumps of Wild Garlic on the banks of the river.

Jelly Ear Fungus, Auricularia auricula-judae growing on an elder, and looking pretty healthy following the rainfall.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Ogden Water, Calderdale

On a recent jaunt to Ogden Water Country Park, 4 miles north of Halifax, we enjoyed spectacular views, caught a few rays of sunshine and indulged in Mr Whippy 99's. Nature saw us and we saw nature. Up on the valley top this buzzard soared high overhead, Meadow Pipits kept a low profile nearby and Skylarks filled the air with song.

Occupying the reservoir, a fair few Canada Geese, Mallards and a lone but not lonesome Barnacle Goose.

We watched this female Roe Deer for 10 minutes or so before it wandered off into the forest.
This bracket fungi grew in the deeply fissured bark of a mature conifer.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Fountains Abbey, Studley Royal

On sunny Monday we visited Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal, Ripon with a half price voucher in hand. An early unexpected sighting kept us chattering all day. This stoat or weasel popped its head out of its burrow not far from the path & again on our return. Both stoats & weasels are both strictly carnivorous, primarily small rodents, secondary rabbits & ground nesting birds.

Wandering around the grounds, treewards we spotted Nuthatch, Willow Warblers, Robins, Chaffinch, Jackdaw, Goldfinch. Waterwards, a pair of Grey Wagtail flew from between the lake margin & the weir. One of two Mute Swan enjoyed the sunshine at the head of the weir overlooking the lake. Also on the lake Canada Geese, Tufted Duck, Mallards, Greylag, Mute Swan cygnets.

Woodland flowers included Common Dog Violet, (Viola riviniana) growing in dappled shade, heart shaped leaves, edible leaves & flowers, foodplant of some Fritillary butterflies.

Wood Anenome
The aroma of Wild garlic (Allium ursinum) filled the air at intervals. The beautiful white allium flowers are just starting to open, contrasted by the lush green foliage, forming a dense carpet in areas of dappled shade. Important for bees & other insects. The plants are edible & medicinal properties.
Although there were plenty of butterflies, I only managed to photograph this Peacock buttefly. The markings on its hindwings mimic the eyes of a small mammal to threaten potential predators.

On the woodland walk, a felled mature deciduous tree hosted a number of different bracket fungi.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Beckett Park, Leeds

A short walk up to Beckett Park proved fruitful on the fungi front. The Broadleaf woodland area is host to a number of bracket fungi on both living and felled trees.

Bluebell, one of the first to bloom amongst a patch near Queenswood Gardens.

Trametes suaveolens, a tiered bracket fungi, tinged green by algae.


Jelly Ear (Auricularia auricula), well past its sell-by date.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Rodley Nature Reserve

Rodley Nature Reserve was thronging with visitors, highlights on the wildlife front were 5 Grey Heron at the waters edge & buds and blossom around the Reserve. On the ponds, Cormorants settled on the island, joined waterside by Canada Geese, Tufted Duck, Lapwing, Little Grebe, Coot, Mallard & Reed Bunting amongst the rushes. A whistlestop at the Manager's Garden where Chaffinch, Wren, Robin, Reed Bunting visited the feeders before we refuelled with cuppa at the Visitors Centre.

A blurry Reed Bunting, followed by a less blurry sketch.

Lesser Celandine, Ranunculus ficaria. Like damp shade, deciduous environments. Can be eaten in salads, buds can be pickled & eaten as capers, the early leaves are high in Vitamin C. Leaves are a glossy dark green & heart shaped. The plant is an important source of early nectar.

On the way back stopped for a quick trot around Bramley Falls Park, caught sight of Mistle Thrush, Wren, Blue Tit, Chaffinch.

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