November meeting change of speaker

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.


Half Moon and Ashfields


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.

longhornTwo 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.

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!”