Waxwings in Ryhill and at Pugneys

Just answered the phone and as I approached the dining room window to pick up the receiver, I thought I could hear waxwings. Looking out of the window, there were 27 waxwings in the top of the oak tree in the garden. I once saw two fly over but this is the first time they’ve landed. Unfortunately, they didn’t visit the berberris just outside the window and instead flew off south over Ryhill. There’s certainly plenty around but still highly mobile.

Eddie just mailed me to say there were also 42 waxwings at Pugneys this morning, unfotunately flushed by a dog walker!

Goosander at Newmillerdam

Went out with the camera today and as I passed Newmillerdam, I noticed two drake goosander very close to the outfall opposite Beauly Cafe. I pulled into the car park but as soon as I stepped out of the car they were off, so no piccies :¬(

There have also been a pair of goosander on the Calder by Chantry Chapel and these are giving great views.

Brockodale: Stinking Helibore

On a walk around Brockodale YWT reserve today, Colin Booker came across this fine example of stinking helibore (Helleborus foetidus), a local speciality plant which gets it’s name from the unpleasant odour given off when its leaves are crushed. Colin has supplied a really nice shot of the rare flower taken from a lovely low viewpoint to give us a good view of the typically drooped flower heads. He also noted 4 corn buntings at the reserve, now very scarce in the Wakefield district.

stinking helibore (Helleborus foetidus)

Stinking helibore (Helleborus foetidus) at Brockodale

Another member, Francis Hickenbottom, sent in a field record of green helibore on a railway embankment in Hemsworth though this species is most definitely a garden escape

January Meeting

The first indoor meeting of 2013 was the AGM where, after the formal part of the meeting was over, president John Gardner spoke about the recent committee meeting, where a discussion of the peregrines on Wakefield cathedral took place and the result was that the society agreed to finance the construction of a peregrine nestbox to be fixed on the Cathedral tower, subject to approval from the Cathedral authorities.

As is now traditional, a wildlife quiz followed, with Francis Hickenbottom displaying his fascinating collection of skulls and feet, and our botanical expert Chris Hartley testing our brain cells even further with a group of tree branches, minus their leaves, for us to try and identify. John Gardner’s photographic quiz was as usual most interesting and frustrating.

Recent sightings: Scarce gulls still coming into the Anglers/Wintersett roost include Caspian and yellow-legged gulls. Long-tailed duck, scaup and 2 bitterns also noted. Many skeins of Pink-footed geese were counted locally flying mainly west. 29 shelduck were at Pugneys and 4 smew briefly on 18th . 5 chiffchaff  have been seen roaming with a tit  flock at a location by the river at Ossett, and a sighting of 2 flying bumblebees recently
was unusual for the time of year.

Next meeting on Tuesday 12th February at 7.30pm when Francis Hickenbottom
will give a talk entitled ‘Flight ’in the Quaker Meeting Hall, Thornhill  St.Wakefield.


January meeting: AGM

The next meeting is the AGM on January 8th. While AGMs are a necessary evil and at many clubs are noted for being as dry as cabinet full of old moth specimens, the Wakefield Naturalists’ AGM breaks the mould with a fun-filled evening following the 10 minutes or so of business! After the refreshment break there will be a brain-taxing quiz to find out who should replace Packham on Springwatch 2013, so come along and make sure you’ve had a brainfood tea and bring an asprin for afterwards!

Here’s an anagram or two to get you started, leave your answers in the comment box