Trip reports

Outing to Gaitbarrows

Willow warbler

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

10 people managed to find their way to the barn in Gaitbarrows Nature Reserve on a morning that began misty but soon became a beautiful, sunny summer day. There were quite a few birds around (Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Garden Warbler among others), but our main interest was in plants and butterflies. We first visited the Lady's Slipper Orchids of which the staff at English Nature are justifiably proud. A number of plants were in full flower and were being photographed by an equal number of enthusiasts. They are all descendants of the one remaining native British plant in Yorkshire and were raised at Kew. (The better known Silverdale plant is of Austrian descent)
The sun came out as we moved to the glades where the Duke of Burgundy butterfly flies. We only saw one, but it was a first for several of us. There were also several day-flying moths around, including the red-listed Anania funebris (black wings with round white spots: - White-spotted Sable moth) and numerous Speckled Yellow and Brown Silver-line moths.
One of the party, who must have eagle-eyes, spotted a caterpillar - well camouflaged against dead bracken - which turned out to be a High Brown Fritillary larva (a first for all of us). As we walked round the limestone trail we also saw Orange Tip, Green-veined White, Common Blue, Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Brimstone butterflies (the last seen as we drove away home). Great interest was raised by a female Broad-bodied Chaser (dragonfly) with the most beautiful golden abdomen. The wood ants were very active in the sunshine, reorganising their nests.
One of the most common plants by the paths was Lily-of-the-valley, which loves the dry, thin limestone soil. Alas, it flowers only sparsely in the Reserve.
We had a very pleasant and instructive walk and our thanks go to Rob Petley-Jones and Colin Burns who gave us their time and shared their knowledge with us.