Welcome to the Wharfedale Naturalists’ Society


Take a look at our upcoming events…
October 7th
Birding – Old Moor RSPB Reserve
Meet 10 30am at Reserve Visitor Centre
Bring RSPB card
Leader: Richard Fuller 01943 879342
October 10
Tuesday evening meets – ‘The Secrets of Leighton Moss’ – David Mower
Insights from a retired Reserve Warden
October 14
Special events – Fungus Foray Middleton Woods
With Fungus expert Andrew Woodall
Meet 10.00am Lido Car Park SE 118485
Contact: Peter Riley – 01943 862916
October 21
Special events – Coach Trip to Salthome RSPB
(bring Membership card or pay)
Booking form/pickup times with August
Names to Michael Brear 07552 738324
October 24
Tuesday evening meets – ‘The Future of Farming and Land Management in The Dales’
Chris Clark (Nethergill Farm)
Dr Steve Carver (Leeds University)

The full programme is available here.

All Tuesday evening talks are held at ChristChurch, The Grove, Ilkley starting at 7:30pm. Click here to show a map.

August Newsletter

Please find the August Newsletter for 2017 available here. It includes the latest news from the Wharfedale Naturalists’ Society, details of the Winter Coach Outing and Working Party dates from the nature reserves we manage.

Big Garden Birdwatch 2017 Results

The results from the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch 2017 have been released with a total bird count of over eight million again. The House sparrow was found to be the most recorded bird in the UK and except for Northern Ireland where the Starling was most commonly seen. The results are as follows:

Top 10 UK overall

  • House sparrow
  • Starling
  • Blackbird
  • Blue tit
  • Woodpigeon
  • Goldfinch
  • Robin
  • Great tit
  • Chaffinch
  • Long-tailed tit

Top 5 by country

  • House sparrow
  • Blackbird
  • Starling
  • Blue tit
  • Woodpigeon
Northern Ireland
  • Starling
  • House sparrow
  • Chaffinch
  • Carrion crow/Hooded crow
  • Blue tit
  • House sparrow
  • Starling
  • Chaffinch
  • Blackbird
  • Blue tit
  • House sparrow
  • Starling
  • Blue tit
  • Blackbird
  • Chaffinch

Goldfinch numbers have increased by 44% since 2007 and Blackbirds by 29%. Of those in decline, Greenfinches are still not up to past levels with a 59% decline since 1979.

Yorkshire Dales book update

Previously available at ‘Just Books’ in Ilkley, this fantastic book is now available from Coch-y-bonddu Books for £9.95. It usually sells for £35.

Part of the New Naturalist series of books, the natural history of the Dales is covered in great detail by Professor John Lee, an ecologist long familiar with the landscape. The book pulls together information on an area which has been comprehensively catalogued by universities such as Lancaster, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, York and Durham for a century.

New recording form

For those of you that wish to send your sightings directly to the recorders, a new recording form is available to download from here. It lists all the recorders from the Wharfedale Nats and all we request is a separate form is used for each recorder.

John Busby’s annotated birdwatching map

1940's birdwatching map
Artist, writer, teacher and former member of the Wharfedale Naturalists, John Busby produced this fantastic annotated map from his birdwatching walks around the Menston area. If you are interested copies can be made by his daughter Rachel. Click here for more details.

John joined the Wharfedale Naturalists’ Society at its inception in 1945 and it is possible that this map was drawn up to illustrate a talk or other contribution John gave to the Society.

Big Butterfly Count 2016

Big Butterfly Count
The Big Butterfly Count results are in and have been causing confusion amongst conservationists. Despite conditions which would usually see butterflies thrive, 2016 was a poor year for many species and most people saw less butterflies than ever before. Gatekeeper, Comma and Small Copper butterflies experienced their worst year since the project began with counts down by 40%, 46% and 30% respectively compared to 2015. The Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock also experienced drops of 47% and 42%, their second worst year recorded. The full results are listed in the table below:

    Abundance % change from 2015
1 Large White 62890 2
2 Small White 61955 15
3 Meadow Brown 57281 1
4 Gatekeeper 47597 -40
5 Ringlet 26968 32
6 Red Admiral 26568 70
7 Peacock 18508 -42
8 Green-veined White 16879 58
9 Small Tortoiseshell 12335 -47
10 Speckled Wood 10271 12
11 Marbled White 9461 58
12 Six-spot Burnet 8417 20
13 Large Skipper 8182 -2
14 Comma 7514 -46
15 Common Blue 5938 -55
16 Painted Lady 4246 -23
17 Holly Blue 3969 -48
18 Brimstone 3629 -20
19 Small Copper 2286 -30
20 Silver Y 1244 -12

For more information and an interactive map of the 2016 results please click here.

Funds for Conservation Projects available

bee bsl
Every year the Wharfedale Nats like to support a number of worthwhile conservation projects in and around the Wharfedale area. For example, the Society has helped towards the costs of servicing equipment used by the Hay Time Project. If you have a conservation project, that would benefit from a small contribution by the Society, please contact our Secretary.

Can you help protect Addingham’s wildlife??

In April 2016 the Addingham Civic Society, in an initiative endorsed by the village Parish Council, formed an environment sub-group to develop a village environment plan.

The reality of climate change is making us all think very carefully about our natural environment and how it could be protected and managed positively.

Our objective is to create a better place for people and wildlife, supporting biodiversity and sustainable development. To do this we want to be evidence-based in our policy/decision making and to involve as many people as possible.

We have already identified some key wildlife issues such as:

  1. Protect and enhance populations of plants and animals in the village (Actions: conduct an inventory of all populations, assess their status and develop plans to protect and extend species, especially those at risk)
  2. Limit range of invasive non-native plant and animal species (Actions: conduct studies of population size and distribution, research appropriate actions to take)
  3. Protect and enhance semi-natural ecosystems in the village (Actions: identify land of high ecological value eg. moorland, woodland and grassland, assess its condition and how it may be improved/extended)
  4. Encourage wildlife friendly management of village spaces, roadside verges etc. (Action: research local management protocols)

As a member of Wharfedale Nats I know that many members who live in the Addingham area have knowledge and experience of the area and we would like your ideas based on the following questions;

What do you think are Addingham’s wildlife priorities?

What actions should we be taking now?

What other groups should we involve?

To provide information, comment on the above or on any other issue please contact:

Peter Miller (email: pjmiller511@gmail.com)
(mobile: 074155 70589)

Members Survey

In an effort to keep improving, the Wharfedale Naturalists would be grateful if you could take a minute of your time to fill in our online questionnaire. It consists of 10 questions on what you would like to get out of the society and would give us some valuable feedback. Many thanks!

Gallows Hill Latest


The evening walk at Gallows Hill, on the 24th May, reportedly went well with plenty of bat activity. The current programme of events, from the Friends of Gallows Hill, is available here. Most of these dates have now passed, but a new programme is currently being put together and will be published when it is made available.

A message from a recent visitor:

I took a trip down there myself and the following were seen/heard in just over half an hour. Bullfinch, chaffinch, blue/great/ long tailed tits, blackbird, song thrush, mistle thrush, jackdaw, rook, crow, chiff chaff, greater spotted woody, wood pidgeon.

A nice spot. My first visit and I didn’t know where the car park was.
For other “first timers” take the pool road out of Otley. Go past the cemetery on the left. There’s an entrance to the new housing development after about another 200 yards. Turn left into this new development and there is a track on the right that leads down to the Gallows Hill car park. Enjoy!

More information about the site can be found here and, if you wish to become involved, a group of volunteers meet at 2pm, on the first Saturday of every month, at the Gallows Hill car park.

Gallows Hill now have their own website: http://www.gallowshill.org.uk/.

Yorkshire Mammal Group November Newsletter

Yorkshire Mammal Group
The Yorkshire Mammal Group’s November Newsletter is available here. It lists their upcoming talks and other events for the month. If you haven’t done already you can also visit their website which has a calendar of events for 2016 here.

Appeal from our butterfly recorders

Many thanks to Diane Morris and Paul Millard for all their hard work with the butterfly records for 2015. Those of you that attended the recorder’s evening will have heard their findings first-hand. In addition to the records you have kindly been sending them, they have appealed for people to report records from sites in Wharfedale which have previously gone unrecorded.

The Wharfedale Naturalists has a butterfly database dating back to 1948 containing over 60,000 records, but despite this there are 21 tetrads in our recording area, comprising over 60 square kilometres, that have no butterfly record at all. In an effort to fill in all the gaps, a list of these tetrads can be downloaded here and if any of these are near where you live or if you fancy a trip out this summer, try and see if you can spot a butterfly in one of our blank squares. If you are successful let them know, they will be pleased to hear from you.

Missing Tetrads

Missing Tetrads 1 – 21

The current butterfly recording form can be downloaded here along with some useful notes here. If you wish to print out a form and fill it in by hand, a suitable template is available here.

Diane and Paul would like to stress butterfly recording should be a pleasure, and not a chore, so if you’re in doubt about anything on the spreadsheet please let Diane know, using the contact form below, or leave the entry blank.

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