My How Stean Blog is now available.
Mediaeval Carpet at Ripley Castle Gardens – Judith Fawcett
Wild Flower Verges
Judith Fawcett writes, “I am interested in wildflower verges, particularly here in the Saltergate/Jennyfield area. I suggested to our local councillor two or more years ago to either leave the grass to grow or have wild flowers. The reply was that if the grass isn’t cut to within an inch of its life people are on the phone as to why it hasn’t been cut. When the grass is left around the daffodils until July it’s amazing how many wild flowers emerge in the long grass only to be cut down. I would be eager to encourage wild flower growth opposite my bungalow as there were shrubs originally planted then removed and grass laid. I’m not sure however that other residents would share my enthusiasm. I have included a splendid picture of the mediaeval carpet at Ripley Castle Gardens. Very few butterflies, quite a worry in fact.” Judith raises a very important point, we have a lot of work to do to convince folk of the importance of proper wildflower verges and that out Biodiversity is in Danger, our ecosystems linked and disappearing. Not just members of the public but also it seems our elected representatives! What do you think? What would you like to see done to protect our biodiversity? Let me know.
Walk for Wildlife on Ilkley Moor!
Ilkley Moor is both a great place and an iconic place for Yorkshire folk, well at least those who are allowed to sing the county’s national anthem in public, I’m forbidden to indulge in such pleasures both in public and the confines of our bathroom. And me an ex, albeit very poor, choirboy.
Anyway, did you know that Ilkley Moor is owned by Bradford Council and they let the publicly owned grouse moor out to grouse shooters? These folk decimate the local wildlife, damage the environment and have allegedly threatened walkers. If you reckon it’s about time this stopped then why not join the protest ramble and picnic this Saturday, 6 August, just a few days before the annual grouse carnage begins. Please bring cakes, home-made banners, your friends and family. Meet at 11am until 3pm, Cow & Calf Rocks, Hangingstone Road, Ilkley, LS29 8BT. Ban Bloodsports on Ilkley Moor. Carole Turner writes, “Don’t forget Hen Harrier protest and ramble on Ilkley Moor. Also Sunday, 7 August at Dunsop Bridge village green, Forest of Bowland at 10.30am.
Plumpton Rocks – Andy Marshall
Plumpton Rocks Re-opens
If you have never been to Plumpton Rocks you will not have appreciated what a quiet, delightful place it is. Surrounded by trees and incorporating a delightful lake, it’s an ideal place for contemplation, a place to – in modern day parlance – chill out, a place to enjoy the wildlife, to appreciate its beauty. It’s lovely, but sadly for the past year or more it has been closed for restoration, but now it has re-opened. Restored to its past 18th century glories, it promises to be even better and at £3.50 for adults, £2.50 for concessions, great value for money. Plumpton Rocks is a 35 acre 18th century landscape garden five miles east of Harrogate in North Yorkshire. The grounds have been owned by the Plumpton family since at least the Norman Conquest, with a period of ownership also by the Lascelles family of Harewood House for just under 200 years. The present owner is Robert de Plumpton Hunter. The garden was once a medieval deer park and fish ponds. Tradition has it that Robin Hood poached deer here. The gardens were created by Daniel Lascelles in the 1750s after he bought the estate from the Plumpton family. He enlarged the lake and commissioned John Carr to design the dam and boat house together with many estates buildings and the model village which survive to this day. The garden has been painted by many fine artists including Turner, Girtin and Mellor. It has been open to the public for at least 200 years. It has now re-opened for every day during August and is also open on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays until October, from 11am to 6pm. The gardens were once described by Queen Mary as ‘Heaven on Earth,’ whilst for the film buffs among you the gardens are also taking a starring role as Wild Cat Island in the BBC’s new feature length film adaptation of Swallows and Amazons to be released later this month. The three year project achieved the restoration of the parkland, lake, woodland and perhaps most importantly, the magnificent Grade 2 listed dam designed by John Carr of York in the 1760s. Over the last few decades the lake had gradually silted up and the major 18th century vistas, painted by Turner for his first commission in oils in 1797, had been lost. There were concerns that this historically significant landscape would be lost for ever. The situation became critical in 2012 when English Heritage placed the garden on its Historic Landscapes at Risk Register. This catapulted the garden as a priority for funding and enabled a Higher Level Stewardship Scheme to be entered into between the owner, Robert de Plumpton Hunter, and Natural England. Over the next year a major plan of restoration was formulated and work started in 2014 to restore the former parkland. Subsequently, extensive works have been carried out to the woodland, lake and recently the dam. The latter received substantial grant funding from Historic England and The Country Houses Foundation.
The 36 acre former parkland had been ploughed up in 1982 and the original individual specimen parkland trees had been lost. The restoration has allowed for the fields to revert back to grassland with 80 individual parkland trees planted. This reconnects the parkland once again with the Rocks and the remaining John Carr buildings of the Hall, stable block and farm. Over the last 250 years the lake has gradually silted up. This meant a large portion of the northern part of the lake had been lost and had become overgrown with self-seeding trees. The view looking south towards the Dam and Lover’s Leap had been lost. Natural England and Historic England grants allowed for the desilting of the lake, taking it back to its original 18th century proportions. The Creek was dug out with several inlets and two islands were reinstated at the north of the lake.
Ann and Colin Snelson live in Middlesmoor in Upper Nidderdale. Here is a glimpse of the wildlife they enjoy there: “It’s especially pleasing to see a good number of very healthy-looking Greenfinches and a good crowd of Goldfinches, too. Siskins are still with us as are Great Spotted Woodpeckers but up to press we haven’t seen young ones of these. Besides the day to day joys of seeing the birds, occasionally we get other interesting visitors too. Yesterday we had a gorgeous weasel tearing around the garden, rolling on the grass and jumping up at plants. Don’t know if it was for hunting practice or for fun but it was certainly fun to watch! Thought it would be interesting to tot up how many different bird ‘babies’ we have seen or heard here. Obviously things have been going well for them. We have counted 14 different species so far. Blackbird, Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Greenfinch, House Martin, House Sparrow, Pied Wagtail, Robin, Song Thrush, Starling, Wood Pigeon.” Not bad and remember these are just juveniles. How successful have the nesting birds been in your garden this summer? Why not drop me a line and let me know?
Red Admiral – Roger Litton
Roger and Pauline Litton, “Were in Harlow Carr this morning and saw more butterflies there than we have seen all summer up to now. Having said that, there were still fewer than one would expect – and we saw mainly whites. This photo is our first sighting of a Red Admiral so far this year and we managed to see a Small Tortoiseshell (but only one of each).” Hopefully we may start seeing more butterflies soon, the late flying ones, let’s hope they hatch before all the flowers die, even the late flowering plants seem to be early this year!
Painted Lady – Andrea McKenzie
Andrea McKenzie tweeted me a Painted Lady photo with the comment, “Painted Lady grow by my 8 yr old.”
Vapourer Moth Caterpillar – Ian Law
Ian Law spotted this vapourer moth caterpillar on a laurel bush.
Colin Harrison gets about a bit, I wonder if he has a big suitcase? “Following my sighting of Swifts in Poland, I am now reporting a big flock of screaming Swifts spotted at the seaside in Brittany. There must have been 12-15 at least. Also, where I am staying has a fantastic population of butterflies, although nothing to compare with your day out! I have so far seen many Meadow Browns, together with Commas, and Red Admirals. Yesterday I saw an Adonis Blue and a High Brown Fritillary. I also had the pleasure of a brilliant blue damselfly doing its courtship routine to what seemed a particularly uninterested female. Such is life I suppose… France has apparently banned the use of nicotinoids, and could be reaping the benefits already. Keep up the good work, and I would like to be considered for the post of your Foreign Correspondent if it ever comes up!” I do wish here in the UK I was confident that we could ban nicotinoids and other dangerous chemicals for ever but worry that the current limited ban may be repealed. I also rather hoped that it was just us who had very few butterflies, we really do need to do something now.
10 Little Egret, 3 Black-Tailed Godwit, Snipe, 4 Ringed Plover. A colour-ringed Little Egret found on the reserve on July 23rd was ringed in Cleveland on 27th May!
Recent interesting birds seen include, Whooper Swan, Garganey, 7 (inc one juvenile), Little Egret, 20+ daily, Red Kite, singles occasionally reported, Marsh Harrier, “Cream crowns”, Ringed Plover, Two occasionally reported, Little Ringed Plover, 3 throughout, Curlew, daily in small numbers, Black-tailed Godwit, maximum 13, Dunlin, two, Green Sandpiper, present daily on pick up (hide) – max 6, Common Sandpiper, 6, Common Gull, max 4, Yellow-legged Gull, Adult, Little Owl, Hobby, Peregrine, at least three throughout, Whinchat, single.
See website for full details of these events and to confirm no changes.
Friday 12th August – Nosterfield Reserve