Sunday, 16 May 2010

Ben Rhydding Gravel Pits

During this weekend we visited Ben Rhydding Gravel Pits, near Ilkley. One of four reserves managed by The Wharfedale Naturalists Society since 2007. The reserve consists of land around two reclaimed gravel pits adjacent to the river Wharfe. Thanks to Amanda for recommending the site which on first reading I mistook for Otley Gravel Pits that we visited last year, but this is a great addition to our list of places to visit.

The pond was our first port of call, during our visit the weather was overcast and breezy with little butterfly activity other than a Small White on the wing, no Damselfly/Dragonfly activity yet, but I imagine it'll be a good spot for both in the summer months. Walking around the opposite side of the pond Andrea took a nice shot looking up towards Cow and Calf rocks.
Bird sightings included Grey Heron, Oystercatcher, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Curlew, here we watched 20 Sand Martins across the river, constantly on the go.
Whilst watching the Sand Martins a pair of Goosander appeared from downstream and settled on the opposite bank.

We spotted a Buzzard on the horizon and within moments another two appeared, I've never seen three in one spot before.

Its a super spot for wildflowers, with many patches of Lords and Ladies (Arum maculatum) those in shade on the verge of opening and those in a sunnier aspect now in bloom.

On our way back, near the roadside we passed beside a carpet of Ramsons (Allium ursinum) in dappled shade.

Wood Forget Me Not, clusters of tiny powder blue flowers with yellow centres.
Common Solomon's-Seal (Polygonatum multiflorum), arching stems, alternate leaves, hanging clusters of bell shaped flowers.

Fern fronds unfurling, the golden brown stems predominant.
And a patch of fully open ferns swaying in the breeze and adding a splash of emerald green to the woodland floor.


  1. What a great place, Linda - there's great potential there for future visits. I've never seen a Lords and Ladies in flower, as in your picture, usually just seeing the fruit spike afterwards. The buzzard sighting too must have been a great experience. When I walked the Southern Upland Way years ago I had five circling overhead while having my picnic lunch in the hills above St. Mary's Loch - that was pretty wonderful too. I do like buzzards.
    I have a 'former reserve' called Caistron not too far away - it is still a worked gravel pit but sadly now a fishing lake which means the water levels were raised and the wader scrapes have all disappeared. A great pity because it was recognised as a top spot years ago.

  2. This looks a very interesting place Linda

  3. How lovely, I have never heard of this place before. We saw lots of the Lords and Ladies at Bolton Abbey yesterday but until now I didn't know what they were!

  4. Wouldn't mind a nice gravel pit like that on my patch Linda. I bet a long list of birds could be recorded there :-)

  5. Hi Linda,Im glag you got chance to go to the Gravel pits it's a realy nice place.It is such a good habitat for Dragonflys and other Insects,just needs to warm up a bit.The Sand Martins were greate to watch,but we missed out on seeing the Buzzards.

  6. Hello Emma, yes it was the first time I'd seen Lords and Ladies in such numbers, it looks very promising for flora. Wow, five buzzards is quite a sight, how wonderful.

    Citybirding, yes will have to have a repeat trip out there.

    Hello Pam, Amanda kindly let us know about the site and I couldn't resist a visit, took in a trip to Betty's too while we were in the area!

    Hi Warren, yes its a super site, enjoyable in terms of both the fauna and flora. The close proximity of pools to the river and vegetative cover make for an interesting location.

    Hello Amanda, thanks very much for the tip. On reading your original comment, in my mind's eye I confused it with Otley Gravel Pits that we visited last year. Looking forward to the appearance of butterflies and dragonflies and will plan another visit soon. Thanks again.

    Thanks for dropping in and best wishes to you all, Linda


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