September meeting: Madagascar by Pete Williamson

It’s always good to hear a lecture from one of our own members and tonight’s talk by Pete on his birding trip to Madagascar was no exception. Pete gave us a lively and entertaining talk about his visit to this beautiful¬†island that is home to some amazing wildlife, including the famous lemurs. He covered landscapes and people as well as the wildlife and highlighted just how much deforestation is underway creating a massive threat to the island’s wildlife. Despite the continual threat and destruction of Madagascar at the hand of man, the island still has some incredible species and Pete certainly had lots of images to show us including endemic bird species, chameleons, lemurs, insects, butterflies and flowers. A great talk to kick off the season of indoor lectures.

Madagascar Wildlife

Madagascar wildlife by Pete Williamson

Members’ sightings at the call over included Osprey at Wintersett, grayling butterflies at Horbury Bridge (good to know they are still there) and other butterfly sightings in the warm September sun included comma, painted ladies, speckled wood, red admiral and holly blue. A grass snake was reported from Stanley Ferry Flash which is a new area for this uncommon local species.

There was an exhibit brought in of orange balsam which was found just outside our recording area but members were asked to be on the lookout for it and to report any sightings.Orange balsam (Impatiens capensis) is a North American species which appears to be colonising the UK, usually in low lying areas along river banks and canals and it grows to around 1m tall and is covered in orange flowers in late summer/early autumn.

Autumn migration & Ink-caps

I went out earlier today to look for fungi  and, after finding that some shaggy ink-caps that I wanted to photograph had passed their best, I got distracted by the activities of the birders watching for migrants at Wintersett. I joined them for an hour

as their count of meadow pipits for the morning topped 500. As the day warmed up, some interesting birds came through. We saw a flock of 10 ruff, a group of 4 grey wagtails and a single merlin all on autumn migration.

shaggy ink cap (Coprinus comatus)

shaggy ink cap (Coprinus comatus)