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
dark green fritillary at Brockadale
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.
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
There was a good turn out of Society members at our field meeting on Sunday 10 June at the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust reserve at Thorpe Marsh. We were well rewarded with a wide variety of interesting bird, plant and insect species as we walked around flower filled meadows, woodland, becks and lagoons. A check list with images attached included a recently emerged black-tailed skimmer dragonfly, caterpillar of the yellow-tail moth feeding on sallow, yellow barred long horn moth, wasp beetle and common cudweed, a low growing annual plant growing in a clinker track (a former railway). Other sightings included adult garden chafer beetle, adult cinnabar moth, caterpillar of vapourer moth, male and female forester moths, banded agrion damselfly various hybrid orchids, buzzard, together with whitethroat, oystercatcher and cuckoo all calling in the background. Thorpe Marsh extends to 77 hectares and is packed with a variety of habitats and as we discovered it is developing into a very valuable home for a wide range of wildlife.
The next field meeting is on July 15 at Epworth Turbary Nature Reserve and further details are available by checking the Outdoor Meetings on this website.
Yellow tail moth caterpillar
Yellow barred long horn moth
Black tailed skimmer
The Society’s final outdoor meeting of a full summer programme for this year attracted a very good attendance on 13 August 2017. Members were greeted with a fine sunny morning and treated to some special wildlife sightings as we walked around part of the Nostell Priory parkland, which is managed by the National Trust.
comma butterfly caterpillar
purple hairstreak butterfly
The bottom lake provided good views of various dragonflies and damselflies, including brown hawker and common blue damselfly patrolling around a large area of fringed water-lily with its attractive yellow flowers. Large bracket fungal fruiting bodies of Ganoderma spp on old oak trees and a giant polypore (Meripilus giganteus) at the base of a mature beech tree were also noted. Eagled eyed members spotted a couple of caterpillars of the comma butterfly feeding on nettles at a woodland edge. The white markings on their backs are thought to resemble a bird dropping, perhaps a good defence mechanism. See attached image. Possibly, the highlight of the morning was the appearance of a purple hairstreak butterfly high in the canopy of an oak tree, which is the food plant of its caterpillars. Although the adult butterfly may sometimes be seen at lower levels it spends much of its time searching high in the tops of oak trees and occasionally other species for honeydew from aphids. For this reason it is easily overlooked and under recorded and certainly it was difficult to photograph on the day. Other butterflies seen, included red admiral, speckled wood and meadow brown. Other interesting wildlife included a hornet’s nest in an old veteran tree and knopper gall on oak.
The knopper gall is caused by a small wasp (Andricus quercuscalicis) laying its eggs in the young acorns of pedunculate oak. This tiny insect forms a second generation in the spring when it lays its eggs and forms small galls on the male catkins of turkey oak (Quercus cerris), which can be found in small numbers at Nostell Priory. At this time of year the acorns become increasingly wrinkled as they develop. In some years this can reduce the number of viable acorns produced. However, many may remain unaffected and perhaps this insect may not be the threat to our native oak that it once feared to have been.
Encouraged by the visit I returned to Nostell on the 17 August to photograph the giant polypore, which was by then much larger. I also noted a further three purple hairstreak butterflies in the same area, together with a brown hawker and migrant hawkers. Images of the brown hawker, which rested for a matter of seconds on a fence post, together with the migrant are attached.
The indoor meetings resume on Tuesday September 12th at 7.30 p.m. at the Quaker Meeting House, Thornhill Street, Wakefield WF1 1NQ with a presentation by Steve Rutherford when he will take us on a journey around the islands of the UK.
A few more photographs from our field meeting at Potteric Carr earlier this month: an emerald damselfly resting on a rush stem at the dragonfly ponds.
A more unusual angle on one of the dragonflies.
In close up, you can see that perennial sow-thistle is covered with orange-tipped glandular hairs.
Green-veined white on bramble leaf.
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.
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.
Wild flowers included yellow-wort and this large-flowered hemp-nettle growing in the wild flower meadow area by the visitor centre.
This is an advance notification that at February’s meeting we will be calling an extra-ordinary AGM to re-present the WNS accounts. The reason for this is to comply with the Charities Commission rules which states that we should present the accounts to the members 14 days in advance of our AGM. As we were unable to do this due to the original AGM being too soon after Christmas to get in all the bank statements from the peregrine account, our auditors have suggested we make the AGM null and void. However, the Society doesn”t wish to have to repeat the AGM business, hence an extra-ordinary AGM to present the fully audited accounts. This should only take five minutes and we would advise thta the accounts are now online for anyone to look at ahead of the meeting.
After the business, we will be heading off to Spain to have a look at some of the iconic species of birds that this vast country has to offer, such as this beautiful pin-tailed sandgrouse.
Due to an error on my part, the November meeting will now be local photographer Ron Marshall giving his talk entitled – “Alaska – the final frotier”. The talk covers his trip to the very north of Alsaka to the remote town of Barrow and will cover the unique wading birds and mammals of the region. This is going to be a highlight talk so do come along on Tueasday 8th at the usual venue.
A leafy stemmed hawkweed, common valerian, ribbed melilot and hare’s-foot clover.
Field meeting, 14 August 2016: The Ashfields, between Heath village and the River Calder (OS ref. SE 353 206), were settlement lagoons for the pulverised fuel ash from Wakefield power station which was decommissioned in 1991. In the past thirty or forty years the process of natural succession has transformed them from silty open ground to orchid meadow and then from scrub to woodland.
Two longhorn beetles, Stranglia maculata, rest on umbels of hogweed and in a sheltered clearings and there are a few speckled wood butterflies but the most common and persistent insect is the mosquito.
The Half Moon (SE 358 208) between Heath and Kirkthorpe is a cut-off meander of the Calder. A hundred or more whirligig beetles gyrate in a group on the surface close to the bank. Branched bur-reed grows amongst sweet-flag.
Amber snail, probably Succinea putris.
Amber snails graze on the sweet-flag. These snails are unable to fully retract into their shells. Their lower tentacles are much reduced.