Wildlfower walk, Rodley Nature Reserve

Rodley is a beautiful site for birds, flowers, butterflies and dragonflies and although just on the outskirts of Leeds on the ring road, it is well worth a visit, particularly as it is well maintained and has an interesting small, visitor centre

As we try and restrict our walks to a couple of hours we walked up the ramp onto the ‘butterfly bank’ which lived up to its name with a mass of bees and butterflies covering a large clump of crown vetch.  The purples and pink of hemp agrimony, marjoram, field scabious, small scabious, nettle bellflower and musk mallow contrasted with the strong yellow of dark mullein.  Turning right and arriving at the three well cared for ponds what a feast of different damp loving plants including corn marigolds, marsh woundwort, marsh cinquefoil, water plantain, water forget-me-not, amphibious bistort, gypsy wort, greater and lesser spearwort. A magical place to sit in the shade and enjoy the numerous damsel flies and dragonflies.

Small Scabious

Small Scabious

Crown Vetch

Crown Vetch

Wakefield Climate Change Group

Jenny Sergeant, a member of the Nats from way back in the 1970s, has asked me to pass on this invitation Wakefield Naturalists’ Society membbers:

All are invited to participate in the Wakefield Just Transition Forum,
Lightwaves, Lower Yorks St WF1 3LJ on
Friday  June 21st 6:00 – 8:00pm
Friday July 19th 6:00 – 8:00pm

What is the Forum? .. well the group doesn’t exist yet… the hope is to create a community forum so that together we can support and realize

Wakefield’s Climate Emergency Declaration which was recently passed unanimously by Wakefield Council
If you are interested – just turn up at Lightwaves at 6pm on Friday 21st June. We can take it from there together.
The next meeting will be 19th July.
These two meetings have been arranged by a partnership of non-party political Wakefield Trades Council and Wakefield Friends of the Earth. It is hoped that the Forum will draw involvement from individuals and groups from across the Wakefield District: Voluntary organisations, community associations, societies, trade unions, businesses and employers, designers, engineers, faith groups etc etc.
Lightwaves at 6pm on Friday June 21st or Friday 19th July.
Any questions, thoughts, please get in touch in the first instance via Wakefield Trades Council   WfandDistrict-TUC@gmx.com

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

Spotted Redshanks, the Wyke, 1973

spotted redshank

 

These spotted redshanks appear on the cover of The Aire Valley Wetlands, compiled and published by Richard L. Brook and the Wakefield Naturalists’ Society in 1976. I’d originally drawn them for a much-delayed 1973 Bird Report, to show autumn migrants at Horbury Wyke but Richard retained the drawing because of the Wyke’s remarkable likeness to Mickletown Ings, which he considered a key wetland in the Aire Valley.

Aire Valley Wetlands, 1976

Richard and I had recorded four spotted redshanks at the Wyke between the 14th and 18th September, 1973. This was Yorkshire’s only inland record of more than two together during the year, which saw an exceptionally good autumn passage for this wader, although Richard suspected that increased coverage might account for this, with reports coming in from Wintersett Reservoir, and from the sewage farms at Stanley, Knostrop and Heckmondwike.

Also shown are three ruffs in autumn plumage, the male still displaying, and a curlew sandpiper which, at that time at least, had not been recorded at the Wyke.

The original cover also included, in flight, two redshanks (with white wing-bars) and one spotted redshank (trailing legs).

Coloured version drawn on an iPad for Wild Yorkshire Blog

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,

 

Black Nightshade

In the centre of Hemsworth, I spotted some black berries on a plant growing in a car-park. I then noticed the small white flowers, which were obviously those of a Solanum – the group of plants that includes potatoes and tomatoes.

Black nightshade (Solanum nigrum)

The commonest Solanum is woody nightshade (Solanum dulcamara) and I am very familiar with the purple flowers and red berries of that plant but this plant was obviously something new to me. Checking a field guide later, I found that this plant was black nightshade (Solanum nigrum). This particular Solanum occurs in many countries throughout the world and the chemicals that it contains lead to the plant having many medicinal uses.

Black nightshade (Solanum nigrum)

I can’t recall seeing black nightshade previously. By looking at a distribution map, I found that our part of Yorkshire is at the top end of its main English range, so I wouldn’t expect it to be as uniformly distributed and common here as it is in some parts of the south and east. Also, one article that I found suggested that the berries ripen only if there is suffcient sunshine, as there has been this year. Perhaps our usual weather does not allow this plant to fruit well in our area in normal years.

Black nightshade (Solanum nigrum)

I like finding new things in this way: in a built-up area, close to home. This shows that you don’t need to travel to nature reserves to make discoveries.

 

Silky Rosegill

In these continuing dry conditions, there are still relatively few fungi around but it is still worth spending some time searching.

Volvariella bombycina

A week ago, I spotted a large and conspicuous white fungus on a tree-stump at Nostell Priory. On closer examination, I found it to be Volvariella bombycina, which goes by the common name of silky rosegill. This is an uncommon species, so it was pleasing to find it growing in our area.

Volvariella bpmbycina

The scientific name of this species refers to the bag-like volva from which the fungus emerges. The remnats of this can be seen at the base of the stem. The common name refers to the texture of the cap.

An Interesting Start to the Fungus Season

The very dry conditions created by this summer’s hot weather don’t give much promise for a strong start to the fungus season. However, two of us went out to search several local sites last week in the hope of finding one or two species on trees, for which moisture would not be the problem that it is for those species that grow on the gound.

Pluteus aurantiorugosus

We were searching a pile of rotting timber, on which there is usually something to be found, when we spotted some bright orange caps beneath a covering of dried grass. The mushrooms were growing on a well rotted sycamore stump.

Pluteus aurantiorugosus

There aren’t many mushrooms that are such a bright orange colour and this one took a little while to identify. The splitting of the cap, caused by the dry conditions, almost led us in the wrong direction but the mushroom was found to be Pluteus aurantiorugosus.

Pluteus aurantiorugosus

This species is not common and the CATE databse, operated by the Fungus Conservation Trust, contains no previous records for Yorkshire.