Brockadale Field Meeting

Although we’re still in a state of lockdown, easing of restrictions meant that it is possible to travel around a bit more. With this in mind, Hreather and I headed off to Brockadale on the day of the proposed meeting as we weren’t too sure if other members might turn up on the off chance too. Although we didn’t bump into any othe WNS members, we did have a great morning, spent mainly on the slope noted for marbled white butterflies. The weather was very warm, muggy and overcast which meant that butterflies were out but not really on the wing. Within moments of arriving at the slope, we found a marbled white with wings outspread on a thistle. This was followed by a dark-green fritillary also wings oustretched and sunning. Both these were quickly photographed before they had time to move on.

In addition to the super butterflies, there were a great many plants to admire including lots of pyramidal orchids, white bryony, black horehound, knapweed, minionete agrimony and lots of others that were beyond my limited plant knowledge.Birds included whitethroat, yellowhammer, blackcap and willow warbler but no cuckoo, a very scarce bird this year. The site was very busy with dog walkers and families by the time we left, way more folks than normal, probably due to other sites still remaining closed to the public.

Here’s hoping we see you all at the next field meeting in July, although the location may have to change as the RSPB reserves may well be still closed to the public. I will send an email if things chnage and update the website where necessaary

marbled white butterffly at Brockodale

marbled white butterffly at Brockodale

dark green fritillary at Brockadale

dark green fritillary at Brockadale

A distinct lack of moths!

I have been putting the moth trap out quite regularly over the past couple of weeks but each time I go to empty it I find it quite devoid of trappoed moths! Whether it’s the clear cool nights that are causing me bother I just don’t know, but compared to the past couple of years at this time, it’s incredibly quiet. This morning the trap contained only two moths which is about the norm just now; a small magpie and a really beautiful elephant hawk moth, my first for the year. I stuck this handsome lad on a yellow flag iris growing in my small water feature, totally unnatural of course, and done just for art’s sake 🙂

elephant hawk moth on yellow flag iris

elephant hawk moth on yellow flag iris

Orange Tip bonanza

Our lockdown local walks have been drenched in warm, sunny spring weather during April with high temperatures more reminiscent of Spain rather than England, Along with alll the spring migrants arriving on these warm fronts, our own native orange tip butterflies seem to have been thriving. They are on the wing in the latter part of April and early May and depend on early flowering plants, such as deandelions and garlic mustard for nectar, and there’s no shortage of these at the moment. So it appears the orange tips wiull have a perfect season and will have chnace to lay plenty of eggs for next year.

We have been getting quite a few orange tips in the garden throughout the last few weeks and if one arrives in the garden at around 5pm, they often stay to roost presenting me with some lovely photo opportunities proving you don’t have to go for for good photo subjects.

April indoor meeting and coronavirus

Well folks, it looks as if the April indoor meeting is going to have to be cancelled given the current predicament with coronavirus. Members’ night is one of my favourite meetinsg of the indoor meetings calendar so I will bve disappointed to see it go. However, we are being encouraged to avoid gatherings and I suspect there will be a very low turnout even if we go ahead. Therefore, unless you hear differntly from the Society, assume that the meeting is cancelled.

On the ortherhand, there is no reason for us not to have the first of the field meetings in May which will be a local one, most likely Brockadale, as a follow up to the excellent presentation by Joyce and Paul Simmonds last month. We are currently working on the new programme and the meetings pages will be updated very shortly so keep checking back.

There is no reason not to be out and enjoying nature, esoecially in our own gardens, so here’s a shot I took this morning of a male tawny mining bee emerging from it’s burrow. I presume this is the larvae that has overwinterred and is now emerging as an adult.

tawny mining bee west yorkshire

Indoor meeting Tuesday 11th Feb

Just to let everyone know that the speaker fo rthe February meeting will be Mike Pilsworth, RSPB Humber Conservation officer talking about the wildlife of the Humber with an emphasis on Blacktoft Sands. After a bit of uncertainty, Mike has now confirmed he will be with us and we look forward to the talk

 

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)