Richard Bell made a video of the Wakefield Naturalists’ Society field meeting to Walton Country Park earlier this year. I couldn’t make it to that meeting due to work commitments but it looks like I missed a great field meet with lots of nature to see and photograph.
It is a few years since harlequin ladybirds arrived in Yorkshire and they are now a common sight in the autumn as groups of adults enter houses in search of places to overwinter. This habit is the reason why the Americans refer to them as ‘halloween’ bugs. This year, hundreds of the larvae can be seen on the trunks of trees in the grounds of Ackworth School. The orange-and-black larvae find a suitable spot and settle down to change into a chrysalis.
Mark sent in a sightings report from Stanley Ferry today and his records included a female pintail, which is a scarce bird at this site and also, a good selection of insects including comma, 2 common darters and at least 3 migrant hawkers.
Thanks to Ron Marshall from Barnsley for standing in at short notice at the October meeting. As always, Ron gave us a most interesting talk illustrated with his professional grade photos of a trip he took with his wife to Manitoba in June. He flew to Winnipeg and visited the Ridings National Park, a huge reserve covering 1148 sq. miles of unspoilt forests, lakes and streams. The park is famous for its black bears, and holds one of the largest concentrations in North America. Ron took some excellent shots while being careful not to get too close, as black bears can run extremely fast if they feel threatened. Also seen in the park, were nesting great northern divers in their beautiful summer plumage, Bonaparte’s gull, and perhaps most spectacular of all, the scarce great grey owl, a huge bird with bright yellow eyes set in large feathered facial discs.
Wanting to visit Churchill near the Arctic circle, Ron had to take the two day journey on the sleeper train as there are no roads to this remote town. Churchill grew from a remote outpost to a bustling seaport with the construction of the Hudson Bay railroad and port in the 1920s, but its now a world renowned hotspot for bird and wildlife watching in spring and autumn. In June many of the breeding birds are in full summer plumage particularly the black throated diver and red necked phalarope both photographed with a stunning backdrop of wildflower blossom.
Due to illness, Mike Richardson is unable to be with us on Tuesday 8th October but our old friend Ron Marshall has stepped in and will show us some wildlife images from Manitoba including spectacular breeding waders and also black bears in the vast forests. Should be one not to miss.
Memebers may be interested to hear Patrick Barkham speak at the Morley Literature Festival, here are the details that were emailed to me:
Patrick Barkham: Badgerlands – a Talk
Sunday 13th October at 11.30am
Morley Town Hall, south Leeds
Part of Morley Literature Festival
Britain is the home of the badger, with more per square kilometre than in any other country, and 2013 has seen badger culling brought to the nation’s attention by Brian May and thousands of protestors. Yet many of us have never seen one alive and in the wild. Nocturnal creatures, badgers vanish into their labyrinthine underground setts at the first hint of a human.
The Guardian’s Patrick Barkham follows in the footsteps of his badger-loving grandmother to meet the feeders, farmers and scientsts who know their way around Badgerlands: a mysterious world in which these distinctively striped creatures snuffle, dig and live out their complex social lives.
Tickets: £4 available in advance via 0844 848 2706 or on the door.