A walk along the river Wharfe on Wednesday 24th May 2023

Hanneke writes:

The joy I felt when I was back at the river, a walk I had not been able to do since the New Year.

I was greeted by the glorious song of the curlew, such wonderful sound. I crossed the ‘wobbly’ bridge looking for fish in the water, but saw none.

A large black backed gull flew overhead screeching and I wondered why.

Not long after I spotted a male and female Mandarin duck, the lovely colours of the male and the insignificant brownish shades of the female, what a contrast.

I could smell the garlic with their pretty white heads. I also spotted some bluebells, rather past their best. However, the clumps of primroses provided a better show. Loads of bugle and stitchwort.

The hawthorn and mountain ash with their white flowers were in abundance.

The pink cranesbill also had a good appearance. Two fields full of buttercups, their yellow blooms catching the sun. there were daisies too and forget me not. There were plenty of yellow and orange poppies.

Then I spotted a large heron, it was still there when I returned, but it must have heard me, as it flew away when it heard my footsteps.

I saw something move on the rocks in the water and luckily, I had brought my binoculars and there was a red- legged sandpiper and on the next stone a grey wagtail its yellow breast catching the sun.

On the return I spotted another sandpiper but with brown legs.

I heard the oystercatcher’s shrill call, but did not spot it, I was watching a female duck with 7 ducklings such a delight, but I wondered if she initially had more – that large heron is good at catching them for his breakfast. There were also some grebes on the river, ferocious fish eaters.

In the trees there were several robins singing their hearts out and lots of flutter from the pigeons, flying here, there and everywhere. A male blackbird was pushing leaves away in the woods, looking for worms.

I spotted jackdaws seemingly having a meeting, but off they flew when I got nearby.

Lastly on the way home I saw some lapwings rising and diving to protect their chicks.

Crossing the field to the gate I was met by a herd of cows and once I was through the gate, I had to face the steep hill back home. I felt good as I did not have to stop halfway.

What a fabulous start to the day. I hope for many more mornings like this.

Hanneke Dye

Nature notes and other Society activities

Society trip to Gloucester: On 8th May, sixteen of us attended the Society away trip to Gloucestershire, arranged by Hanneke. Everyone went on a guided trip around the Cathedral and were treated to a 1,000 years of history in an hour. We saw Roman beginnings, Medieval repairs to bowing walls, reasons for Reformation survival, Civil War musket ball target practice and Restoration recognisance, not to mention the famous Cloisters, well known in film and TV. On the following day, nmost members went to RSPB Slimbridge, whilst others went in search of architecture in Gloucester City, castles where Kings were assassinated or cures for Smallpox.

Walk group: On 20th May, a number of us went on a circular walk organised by Frances, from Salterforth to Barnoldswick. We saw a pub with Stalagtites, mills repurposed to armaments factories in the war, a lost canal, a re-routed canal, a Norman church with unusual features such as box pews, filled in quarries that linked to the lost canal and a Hall that had mysteriously moved on the map.

Local History: On 25th May, June organised a trip for our Local History group, to Netherside Hall, Threshfield. Members were able to trace its history from a 19th Century shooting lodge to modern day school, in various forms and its links to the indigo trade and important families in Lancashire.

Upcoming Local History trip: The ground work has been laid for our trip to the Victorian Gothic Churches around Ripon. This will take place on 22nd June and details will be going out soon. This trip was researched by the late, sadly missed, Les Bloom. We know he is checking up on us because, on our pre-visit trip, the registration of the car in front of us was “BL04 OOM”.

Nature Notes: A grey Squirrel was seen swimming across the canal and there are reports of “lots of Orchids” in the Stainforth area. Non native bright red lily beetles have appeared in the garden along with a white butterfly with orange wing tips, that doesn’t look like an “orange tipped” butterfly on the web.

Keith Parker