Askham Bog field meeting

There was a good turn out for the Askham, Bog walk today and the weather wasn’t too bad with bright skies and some sunny intervals. There was enough warmth to have a few insects on the wing including orange tip, green-veined white, large red damselfy and the hoverflies such as the footballer. The water violets were superb in both the pond and the damp woodland, while things like slender tufted sedge gave the botanists some identification challenges. As well as the dog violets, there were marsh violets to be seen and we did see the royal fern, a reserve speciality,  but it was still a long way from its showy best.

marsh violet

Marsh violet leaf and flower – Barbara Murray

Water violet

Water violet

large red damselfy | the footballer

large red damselfy | the footballer

Annual General Meeting 12th January 2016

The next meting is the AGM and so I thought I would post the agenda here in case anyone would like to print it or peruse it. There will be a bit more business than usual as the Society is applying for charitable status. However, we aim to be as brief as possible and to break for tea t the usual time followed by Colin’s presentation on Africa, so please do come along for a great evening.

Here is a PDF version of the agenda Agm2015

Haw Park & Anglers CP field meeting

Our group of about 12 were pleasantly surprised to be met by Pete Smith, with a collection of moths he had trapped on Saturday night, identified and put into magnifying boxes for us to see, including the beautiful carpet moth, snout moth, barred red moth, gold spangle moth and rarer muslin footman moth. Thanks Pete, for such an interesting start to our morning, thanks also to Paul Andrews, from the Butterfly Conservation Society who led, and shared his expert knowledge of Haw Park Wood on an interesting walk through the wood.

All the common species of butterfly were seen along the track to the cornfield, small skipper, speckled wood, gatekeeper, red admiral, small tortoiseshell and meadow brown with ringlets in abundance as we came under the canopy of the wood.  Along the main path the bracken and foliage were covered in common blue damselfly. Wildflowers noted were slender St John’s wort, broad leaved helleborine (not quite inflower) and heath speedwell

Paul pointed out a colony of wild honey bees’ busy making honey in a hole halfway up a tree, not easy to see and becoming more of a rarity in recent years.

Heath speedwell

Heath speedwell – Lesley Taylor

Meadow bron

meadow brown – Roger Gaynor

slender St John's-wort

slender St John’s-wort -Lesley Taylor

Woolley Colliery special site visit 15th July 2015

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

May field Meeting: Rabbit Ings

Despite blustery, cold conditions more reminiscent of November than early May, we had a good walk around Rabbit Ings, Royston. This was the first visit we have made to this site as a group and, given warmer conditions, I think we would have notched up a few more species than we did. It was remarkable that we managed any butterflies at all!  Here is a list of what we saw, compiled by Sue Gaynor.


creeping buttercup, common vetch, salad burnet, ribwort plantain, red campion, broom, birds-foot trefoil, black medick, greater stitchwort, comfrey, green alkanet, celery-leaved buttercup, forget-me-not, common mouse-ear, charlock, common field speedwell, sheep sorrel, hairy tare


wren, blackcap, whitethroat, reed bunting, redshank (flying over), common swift, kestrel, cuckoo (1 calling), great tit, skylark, willow warbler, sand martin (1)


dingy skipper (1), small copper (2)

Dingy Skipper

Dingy Skipper


sloe bug (hairy shield bug)

Richard Bell created this excellent short video of our walk and it will certainly give you a feel for the wind we encountered!

January meeting: Change to programme

Due to unforseen circumstances, the Annual General Meeting will be postponed from the January meeting until the February meeting and there will also be a change of speaker. However, the one thing that remains the same is that the lecture subject will be about honey bees. Our very own resident scientist and peregrine watcher, Francis Hickenbottom, has stepped in and will give a presentation about honey bees and bee-keeping. Apparently, not only is he an awesome cosmologist, but is also a former bee-keeper! With no end to his talents and his relaxed public speaking manor coupled with downright enthusiasm, this will be a great lecture and one not to be missed!


Wakefield RSPB Members Group Prestige Lecture

One of the RSPB’s longest serving staff members will be visiting Ossett on Thursday 22 January to give a talk entitled ‘Birds without Borders’, a presentation using some of the latest research findings and illustrated with his own photographs from around the world.

Peter Holden MBE has authored or co-authored more than a dozen books which have together sold more than a million copies. His most recent title Birds: their hidden world was published in February 2012 and will be available on the night. In the past Peter has joined Bill Oddie to present the BBC TV series, Bird in the Nest, and he runs courses on birds and wildlife for Cambridge University’s Institute of Continuous Learning at Madingley Hall.

The event will take place at Ossett Community Centre on Thursday 22 January  2015, beginning at 7.30 pm, entry fee £3 for non-members and £1 for members of the RSPB Wakefield District Local Group.  The RSPB Wakefield District Local Group are very keen to attract as many interested people to the event as possible so please will you let any like-minded friends or family know about the event?

“Peter Holden is something of a legend within RSPB circles and his presentations are always hugely entertaining and informative. We would like anyone with an interest in wildlife to come along whether or not they are a member of the RSPB. Everyone is very welcome!”

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.

Wildflowers at Walton Colliery

The ground was very dry underfoot as we headed straight ahead out of the car park onto a well used path bordered by purple loosestrife and great willowherb mingling with the bright yellow of perennial sow-thistle. Gatekeeper and meadow brown butterflies clung to swaying patches of wild carrot amongst the upright hedge parsley.  Coming out onto the main path there were still plenty of flowers to see – the ladies bedstraw was coming to an end but common centaury, meadow vetchling, common fleabane, red bartsia and field scabious were still flourishing.  Two species of heather, common and cross leaved were thriving in the rough ground and St John’s wort, ribbed melilot, viper’s bugloss, black medick and teasel edged the path as we turned left back onto the main path towards the car park.  Broad-leaved helleborine was found in the same vicinity as previous years and along the path speckled wood butterflies were enjoying the bramble as woody nightshade crept upwards through the tufted vetch, next to three common species of willowherb –  hoary, broad-leaved and great willowherb.

broad-leaved heliborine

broad-leaved heliborine