Thursday, 14 April 2016

Post 401 - Easter reserves challenge update

Bee on a Dandelion at Calley Heath
Hey everyone, Post 401 today and a little update on my reserves challenge. I'd hoped to get to more at Easter but Dad had an operation on his knee so couldn't walk much or drive. So Mum had to do the driving and Dad hobbled where he could. His knee is pretty much back to normal now though so we should get out and about a lot more.

Even though we couldn't get out as much I still managed to get to four new reserves over Easter as well as visiting an old favourite - Fairburn Ings which is a lovely RSPB reserve I go to quite often. This was a lovely little walk and I saw quite a few nice bird species, Reed Bunting, Tree Sparrows, Nuthatches, Marsh Tit,

So where did I get to?

At Ledsham Bank
Ledston Luck - not much to report here as this was just really to find out where it was and how to get to it. I've passed it loads of times going to Fairburn Ings and it's supposed to be amazing in the summer for orchids so now I know how to get to it I'll be visiting it properly when the orchids are flowering!

Flowers emerging at Ledsham
The Red Legged Partridge amongst
the flowers at Ledsham
Ledsham Bank - I went here for the same reason as Ledston Luck really as now I have done my research on the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust reserves I realised there's quite a lot around Fairburn Ings area. This one is on the edge of a little village, Ledhsam, where we sometimes stop for lunch. I walked to it not expecting to see much at this time of year but there were flowers starting to come out and it looks like it will be amazing later in the year too. I will be back.

As I was walking back to the car I spotted a lovely Red Legged Partridge in the graveyard which sat nicely for a photo! This was a beautiful, yet challenging, bird to take photos of, not only because I hardly get the opportunity to, but the colours on them are really nice too. I love taking pictures of less spotted but beautiful birds, even if they do run behind gravestones every 5 seconds... :-)

I had to put on a lab coat
- they didn't have my size!
On another day out I had a really interesting visit to a big science laboratory. The reason I got to do this was because of my blog! I told my teachers at school about my blog and they were really impressed. There is a scheme run by the British Science Association called the Crest Awards and the teachers contacted the people who run it and I found out my blog was good enough to get a Silver Award. That was great news and I have another certificate hanging in our hall now :-)

You're supposed to get a mentor to help with the Crest award but as I didn't have one they arranged for me to have a visit to the science lab which, I have to admit, was pretty amazing, a place called FERA just outside York. I got shown round by a scientist there, an Entomologist but I also got to meet plant pathologists and other people there. Saw lots of interesting stuff but you can't take photos in the labs.

A longhorn beetle model and
a sign you don't see everyday.
I loved this place actually, down all the corridors there was rows of posters that I was really intrigued by as all of the photos on them were really good as well as all of the charts and writing, they seemed to bee really big on some yellow and black flying insects (;-) and the were looking into the native British lines of bees that have been replaced by Italian bees by bee-keepers and they're trying to find if the British ones are more immune to the diseases and other threats that bees are currently facing. They are also world leaders in testing things. One thing they are doing is looking into the validity of a special honey, Manuka honey, to see if it was genuine. They said at one point on the shelves of all the shops there was more Manuka honey than could ever be produced by all the Manuka bees in the world, ever... so it needed to be checked to see if it was genuine.

Anyway after that I went to a new couple of reserves.

On the stile at Allerthorpe
It was a bit challenging getting there!
Allerthorpe Common - this one was quite a challenge to get to and it was a good job I had bought my wellies as you can see from the photo. It was a lovely day though and a nice walk through the woods to get to the common. I noticed that the woods had loads of bird and bat boxes put up so this will be an amazing place for wildlife on its own and there looks like lots of great paths to walk around.

The heath is lovely - love the
little snake symbol on the sign
A lovely fly - Tachina ursina 
Well I got to the common and walked through it. It was a bright day but a bit cold which was a pity as I knew this reserve is good for adders. They even have a little snake symbol on the reserve sign. This time of year when it's warm it's meant to be a great place to see adders basking in the morning sun. It was too chilly the day I went but I did see a lovely fly there. It's pretty good for flies there I found out as I got sent this link via twitter - Allerthorpe Flies

Marsh Marigold
Entrance to Calley Heath
Calley Heath -

Well this one wasn't too far away from Allerthorpe Common. To get to it we had to park in a car park and then cross the main road to get to it. But once we were in there, it was beautiful, the first thing we saw was the Marsh Marigold which is in the picture on the right, but we also saw a lot more. They had rare breed sheep grazing the fields to keep the scrub down. I then saw one of my first bees of the year, which was tricky to get a photo of seeing as I'm a bit nervous of bees and wasps, but as you can see at the top I got a pretty good shot.

Carabus nemoralis crawling over
a pupa.
Rabbit skull?
The penultimate thing was a huge beetle under a log that Dad lifted up, it was a Carabus nemoralis a type of ground beetle which was very beautiful as it had very florescent colours on it. The final thing that we found was something we didn't plan or expect to see as we just nipped round the other side of the fence to see an interesting tree stump but managed to find ourselves in the midst of a big burrow complex where we found a skull. Judging by the scenario, size, shape and basic look of it we deduced that it is probably a rabbit skull but I'm not that good with skull ID yet.

Well that's about it for now. Hope to get out to some more reserves soon especially as the insects seem to be appearing and the flowers are blooming.

Hope you enjoyed.



  1. You have a very nice blog and your photos are lovely. Warm greetings from Montreal, Canada. :)

  2. I forgot to mention that my blog is family friendly and suitable for all ages, and you are welcome to visit and comment any time. :)

  3. I forgot to mention that my blog is family friendly and suitable for all ages, and you are welcome to visit and comment any time. :)

  4. This looks amazing Zach, and it looks like you had a great time too. - Tasha

  5. A bit of help with adders at Allerthorpe... It's frustrating when you visit a reserve and don't see what you're after, so here's a little tip: The best place in my experience to see adders at Allerthorpe is along the northern bank of the ditch that runs along a path that marks the northern boundary of the fenced-off reserve (look on Google maps and you'll see where I mean!). I've seen them there when there has been snow on the ground!! You'll need to look very carefully, but once you get your eye in there can be as many as half a dozen along that path alone. Also, 10-11am is the best time, and sunny spells is the best weather (not bright sunshine). Good luck!

    1. Thank you very much Chris - I shall look there when I go next time.