Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Visiting Foreign Parts

On Tuesday we ventured into either North Yorkshire or West Yorkshire.  It felt like it should have been West Yorkshire, but the weird boundaries may have meant we were actually in North Yorkshire.  We left home it bright sunshine which augured well for a butterfly reserve, but it turned distinctly cloudy on the journey.  By the time we arrived the clouds were very dark, and drizzle threatened, and actually fell for very brief periods.  A Yellow Wagtail and a Yellowhammer in the car park was a good start.    
Little Owl (c) 2014 Maggie Bruce
 Heron (c) 2014 Maggie Bruce
 Kestrel (c) 2014 Maggie Bruce
The first section of the reserve was a beautiful flower meadow with orchids, Yellow Rattle, Goatsbeard, Clustered Bellflower, Clovers etc.  There were a few butterflies including the first of the year Marbled Whites, Ringlets, and Meadow brown, but we didn't see any fritillaries.  There was even a single Banded Demoiselle.  A walk through the very dark woodland produced a Blackcap and not much else.  
Banded Demoiselle
 Female Banded Demoiselle (c) 2014 Maggie Bruce
 Insect Eggs (c) 2014 Maggie Bruce
 Banded Demoiselle (c) 2014 Maggie Bruce
 Burnet Moth Caterpillar (c) 2014 Maggie Bruce
 Bee Orchid (c) 2014 Maggie Bruce
When we emerged from the woodland we reached an open grassy area brooded over by a vertical limestone cliff face.  Here we had a well-grown immature Kestrel.  A dark hawk-like bird was spotted in a Willow.  it failed to make a sound, but when it flew off it proved to be a female Cuckoo.  She came back to the same part of the Willow tree a few times, probably watching a specific nest, but as far as we know she didn't lay her egg.  This area was the most rewarding with a flying Heron, and as we were about to leave John spotted a round bundle in some dead twigs - our best Tuesday Little Owl!  He called for a while (see first photo) before being joined very briefly by his partner.  A very nice ending to the open area. 
Kestrel (c) 2014 Maggie Bruce
From the top of the cliff I managed an even better view of the Little Owl, but he soon disappeared when the big camera lens appeared.  It was here we located about 6 Bee orchid plants - always a nice find. 
Bee Orchid (c) 2014 Maggie Bruce
 Clustered Bellflower
 Pyramidal Orchid
 Rock Rose
 Large Skipper
 Marbled White
 Welsh Chafer (thanks to Barry Warrington)
***Only the 6th Yorkshire record***

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