Dawn Chorus and Bluebells

Sunday 6 May was International Dawn Chorus Day, a worldwide celebration of nature’s symphony. It is celebrated annually on the first Sunday of May, and is a great opportunity to get out early and listen to the sounds of birds as they sing to greet the rising sun.

Events took part all around the country, and on Saturday 5 May (albeit a day early) I joined members of the RSPB’s Wakefield District Local Group as they guided a walk around the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. The walk started at 7am and there were plenty of birds singing. As we wandered around the park we listened to and viewed many species, and learnt a great deal from Paul and Sarah our expert guides. We encountered blue tit, great tit, blackbird, song thrush, chaffinch, goldfinch, goldcrest (one for my year list), chiffchaff, blackcap, great spotted woodpecker, nuthatch, tree creeper and wren.

The park looked stunning in the morning sunlight. The trees were in full blossom and the sunshine made everything look more vibrant. The woodland was carpeted in a haze of blue.

Bluebells at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park

All too soon the walk was over, and we headed to the cafe for a quick drink before heading home. I would encourage everyone to get out there and enjoy what nature has to offer. You don’t have to be an expert, get up too early or travel far to hear bird song – your back garden is a good start.

Potteric Carr

Banded demoiselle (male)

Highlights of our July field meeting at the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Potteric Carr reserve included a female marsh harrier hunting over Huxter Well Marsh; such a regular sight that it did little to disturb the herons, little egrets, lapwings, little grebes and great-crested grebes on the lagoon.

Small skipper

We spent most of our morning in Loversall Field where the dragonfly ponds attracted banded demoiselle, emerald, common blue and blue-tailed damselflies and four-spotted chaser and common darter dragonflies but the star of the show was a male emperor dragonfly, Britain’s largest species.

Brimstone butterfly (female)

Skippers and ringlets were the most frequently seen butterflies but we also recorded commas, meadow browns, single male and female brimstones and a red admiral.

Four-banded longhorn beetles (Leptura quadrifasciata)

In addition to four-banded longhorn beetles we saw soldier beetles, Rhagonycha fulva and click beetle. Whirligigs were gyrating on the surface of the ponds, with great-crested newts coming to the surface amongst the pondweed.

Large-flowered hemp-nettle

Wild flowers included yellow-wort and this large-flowered hemp-nettle growing in the wild flower meadow area by the visitor centre.

Chiffchaff in the Ryhill garden

A sure sign of autumn for me is the flocks of titmice passing through the garden along with the occasional Phylloscopus warbler and today’s offering was a lovely chiffchaff/ The bird was fliting in the autumn red and yellow leaves of an Indian chestnut tree in the garden and was in full song. Lots of these birds on the coast, blown in by easterly winds, but not sure if this was a migrant or a UK bird heading south. Most welecome whatever his origins and, as I didn’t photograph him, here’s one I did earlier on the Yorjshire coast

chiffchaff

 

Wildlife sightings from Nostell Priory

Pauline’s report on 16 February of the area’s first flowering colt’s-foot of the year encouraged a visit to a good spot for this plant on my regular walks around the Nostell Priory estate.  I saw the first flowers here much later at the start of this month.  However, recent wildflower sightings over the last few days have included primrose, dog’s mercury and male yew trees that have been dusting passersby with clouds of pollen.  Interestingly, the female and male flowers on dog’s mercury and yew trees grow on separate plants.  Another welcome flower of spring noticed on my walks at Nostell is the lesser celandine growing in woodland and damp places. It belongs to the buttercup family whereas the greater celandine is a member of the poppy family.  It just shows common English names can be confusing.  An image of the lesser celandine is attached.  Bird sightings have included the usual woodland suspects together with frequent calls of a green woodpecker.  The lower lake gives opportunities to still get good views of the goosanders and grey herons, images of which are attached.

Goosander (female)

Goosander (female) at Nostell

Grey Heron

Grey Heron

Lesser celandine

Lesser celandine