Michael Wilkinson

Members will be saddened to hear of the sudden and unexpected passing of Michael Wilkinson while out walking with his wife Janet. Michael has been a regular member at the Wakefield Naturalists’ Society meetings for many years as well as a regular member at the RSPB local group and our thoughts are with Janet and his family at this time. Anyone wishing to attend Michael’s funeral is welcome to do so and the service will take place at Pontefract Crematorium at 1pm on Tuesday June 4th followed by refreshments at the nearby Kings Croft Hotel.

Wildflowers of St Aiden’s RSPB reserve

Instead of ‘birding’ our group were looking at the huge variety of wildflowers now establishing in this relatively new RSPB nature park. Just looking around the edge of car park area we saw bristly ox-tongue, cut leaved cranesbill, spotted medick, water figwort, wood forget-me-not and in the fenced area clumps of weld and celery leaved buttercup. Coming down the hill the grassland glowed golden with meadow and creeping buttercups interspersed with the bright white of ox-eye daisy, to the right of the path yellow rattle grew amongst the crosswort, hairy tare, red campion, a clump of hemlock water dropwort and our last pause was to admire a single stem of salsify, a garden escape but still a pleasure to see.

St Aidens RSPB reserve

A view of RSPB St Aiden’s

Change of September Meeting Date

Once again, the Quakers have decided to schedule an annual meeting on the same night as Wakefield naturalists’ Society meeting despite our having booked the room in January and used the venue on the second Tuesday of the month for the past 20yrs. This means that we have had to postpone our September meeting by one week and it will now take place on September18th 2018 at the usual time of 7.30pm.

I apologise for the inconvenience and hope that as many of you as possible can still make it to the meeting

 

Barbara Murray

It is with great sadness that I inform you of the passing of Barbara Murray who lost a very short battle with cancer and died recently. Barbara was well known in the RSPB local members’ group where she had helped run the group for many years including serving as group leader. In more recent times Barbara, along with husband Len, joined the WNS and became firm friends with all of us and was regarded as being a very good botanist. Barbara entertained us with her images of flowers at members’ night and gave us a super lecture on the alpine flowers of Austria last year. Barbara will be sadly missed and our thoughts are with Len at this sad time.

Barbara’s funeral will take place at Wakefield Crematorium on 28th August 2018 at 11:40 followed by refreshments at Sandal Rugby Club. Afterwards, close friends and WNS members Karen and Sarah will be walking around either Anglers or Pugneys to remember Barbara and they have asked that anyone wishing to join them is welcome to do so and should bring a change of footwear for the walk,

 

Burying beetle in the moth trap

I’ve been running a moth trap since mid-April after I received one for my birthday and I’ve had some success catching a variety of species of moth which I will probably show at one of the indoor meetings. As well as moths, I usually catch a few other insects such as wasps, flies, and midges, but last night I caught a rather splendid burying beetle – not quite as good as the lesser stag beetles that Francis has caught – but nonetheless a great find in the trap. I have no idea how common these are around Wakefield, probably quite common, but a first for my garden!

Burying Beetle (Silpha vespillo)

Burying Beetle (Silpha vespillo)

Wildflower walk, Old Moor RSPB reserve

A lovely morning for our wildflower walk with a full range of wonderful colours from white hedge bindweed, sneezewort, wild carrot, white water lily to the yellows of wild honeysuckle, yellow loosestrife, fleabane, ribbed melilot and greater spearwort to the pink hues of purple loosestrife, goat’s rue, common centaury and slender speedwell. This handsome puss moth caterpillar was camouflaged well amongst the willow and we spent a while admiring it.

Puss moth caterpillar

Puss moth caterpillar

Wood Anemones at Brockadale

I’ve just returned from a few days photography in Wiltshire/Dorset where I’ve been photographing firecrest, great bustard and Dartford warbler and, as the spring weather continued, today I went over to Brockadale to see what spring flowers were on offer. The cowslips are not yet in bloom and the highland cattle seem to be making a bit of a mess of the meadow so I’m not sure how well the cowslips will do this year. The wood anemone on the hillside are spreading well but deep in the woods, they somehow looked more at home in the dappled spring light.

wood anemone Spring migrant birds included blackcap and chiffchaff but no willow warbler yet, There were plenty of song thrushes singing which was a welcome sound

February meeting: Extra-ordinary AGM

This is an advance notification that at February’s meeting we will be calling an extra-ordinary AGM to re-present the WNS accounts. The reason for this is to comply with the Charities Commission rules which states that we should present the accounts to the members 14 days in advance of our AGM. As we were unable to do this due to the original AGM being too soon after Christmas to get in all the bank statements from the peregrine account, our auditors have suggested we make the AGM null and void. However, the Society doesn”t wish to have to repeat the AGM business, hence an extra-ordinary AGM to present the fully audited accounts. This should only take five minutes and we would advise thta the accounts are now online for anyone to look at ahead of the meeting.

After the business, we will be heading off to Spain to have a look at some of the iconic species of birds that this vast country has to offer, such as this beautiful pin-tailed sandgrouse.

Pin-taiked Sandgrouse

Raven over Anglers Country Park

Chris Swaine, a regular birder at Wintersett, just Tweeted this great image of a raven over Anglers Counrty Park. This is a very unusual bird for the area and Chris informs me that he also saw it just before Christmas and Pete Smith also heard one there just before Christmas. It must be the same bird blogging around the area and I’m hoping I might just get it on the garden list if it flies over Ryhill!

raven overr Anglers Country ParkThe wedge shaped tail is unmistakably raven as are the long narrow wings. Ravens are definitely on the increase and expanding their range as a breeding bird, no longer confined to the coast or mountains but are nesting in ciities on cathedrals and tower blocks.

You can follow more of Chris’ sightings on Twitter @Croftonbirder