Colin Booker has been in contact with The Coal Authority and has managed to arrange a special one-off visit to the minewater treatment plant at Woolley Colliery, Haigh. The visit will take place at 1:00pm on Wednesday 15th July and will involve minimal walking as I think we will be taken or allowed to drive close to the site. H&S require that all members attending should wear stout boots, gloves and a hi-vis vest. Colin has a number of hi-viz vests but if you have one, do bring it.
Those members attending the June field meeting to this site will know just how abundant in wildflowers this site is and so it will be a very interesting walk around this private section of the reserve. Just a week ago we had an abundance of bee orchids and common spotted orchid and I’m sure, if this hot weather continues, there will be good numbers and varieties of butterflies.
A map indicating where to meet will be posted here as soon as we receive it and members wishing to visit should contact Colin to let him know firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday shoppers were enthralled at the sight of wild peregrines high up on the cathedral during this morning’s peregrine watch organised by Francis. People were actually gasping and squealing with delight as they looked through telescopes for the first time and saw, in stunning detail, the peregrine chicks and both adult birds on the spire.
The oldest of the three chicks appears to be getting ready for fledging and his first set of flight feathers are clearly visible through the soft white down that is falling away in tufts. According to Francis, this bird will be five weeks old this coming weekend and is likely to fledge sometime this week.
If you’ve not been down to see the peregrines, now would be a great time as there is plenty of action as the ever hungry, fast growing chicks are being fed.
Peregrine nestbox Wakefield cathedral
A youngster tests the flight feathers with a wing falp
peregrine Wakefield cathedral
peregrine Wakefield cathedral
Sunday shoppers watch wild peregrines
Observers of the peregrines
The Braide family from Sandal watch the peregrinesd
Wakefield peregrine watch
Bramham Park is always a delight for any naturalist and never more so than in June when it is awash with wildflowers. Abundant common spotted orchids were amongst the unmown grass interspersed with bee orchid, yellow rattle and twayblade. To the side of the path sanicle, lady’s mantle and yellow pimpernel flourished under the beech trees Arriving at the obelisk pond, small toadflax, monkey flower, red pimpernel and wall lettuce grew amongst the gravel and stone. The mown lawn area has encouraged thyme, selfheal, milkwort, tormentil and rock rose to thrive in a pattern of purple and yellow in the short grass. The long grass to the right of the Gothic temple is home at this time of year to leopard’s bane, hedge woundwort, heath speedwell, water avens and columbine. Once again a lovely, tranquil visit to Bramham Park.
Common spotted ortchid
Walton Colliery Nature Park Friends Group, supported by Yorkshire Dragon Fly Society, are holding a ‘ Damsels & Dragonflies Event’ on site on Sunday 28th June between 10am and 12noon. If you would like to attend this free event, please assemble at the Shay Lane car park at 09:45. If the weather is fair, there should be a lot of dragonflies on the wing.
Like other peregrines, the Wakefield peregrines occasionally catch duck and their favourite species is teal. This skull is from a teal taken last winter. The base of the skull is missing because it was badly fractured. Peregrines often kill their prey by biting the back of the head. Along the edge of the bill, you can see the pectin – the comb-like structure that the teal uses for filtering its food from mud and water. A close-up shows how interesting the design of the pectin is.
Teal pecttin detail
The bright morning soon clouded over but within a few hundred yards of the car park we came across the first few northern marsh orchids and a hybrid common spotted orchid amongst a waving cloud of meadow buttercups and fading lady’s smock. We followed the path to the left enjoying the patches of bird’s foot trefoil, field penny-cress, crosswort and fumitory – down by the lakeside a pair of oystercatchers expressed their anxiety as we neared their youngster so we returned to the path past lesser stitchwort, hop trefoil and black medick. Swathes of ox-eye daisies and meadow buttercups filled the lakeside meadow as we turned onto the path to the main hide and we were delighted to see a really beautiful display of northern marsh orchids (possibly hybrid) on both sides of the path, they are not quite fully out but still wonderful to see.
Northern marsh orchids
Field panny cress
A walk around Haigh to day produced this newly emerged four spotted chaser.
four spotted chaser – Colin Booker
On 21st July 2014, Paul Meredith found a red-eyed damselfly (Erythromma najas) at Nostell Pond (SE39701712) and this was the first time this species was recorded locally. At the time there was speculation that, because of the late date, it could have been a member of a breeding colony. As today was the first hot and sunny day after a very cold May,a search of the ponds was undertaken by Pete Smith and Ange Smith and they confirmed that there is a breeding colony of red-eyed damselfly at the site. 14 males and 4 mating pairs were seen on and around the waterlilies and algae patches.
Red-eyed damselfly is known to be spreading northwards very quickly over the past few years and it was only a matter of time before the species was recorded in the Wakefield area. Previously, good numbers of this beautiful species could be seen along the Pocklington Canal in York. It will be interesting to see where they are discovered next within the district.
red-eyed damselfly at Nostell Pond (Photo: Pete Smith)