Welcome to the Wharfedale Naturalists’ Society


Take a look at our upcoming events…
02 July Summer visits – Otley Wetland Nature Reserve
Meet 9-30am at Reserve (gate will be locked after 9-30) SE201458
Leader: Nevil Bowland – 878511
05 July Summer visits – Rodley Nature Reserve
Meet 10am at Reserve SE228363
Leaders: Peter and Barbara Murphy – 01132930188
07 July Botany – Weybecks Pasture, Littondale
Meet 10.00am at pull-off near barn past Kilnsey Crag SD971689
Leader: Heather Burrow
Parking particularly tight
21 July Botany – OWNR Survey
Meet 10.00am at Reserve gate SE201458 – gate locked at 10.00am.
Leader: Nicky Vernon
26 July Summer visits – Timble Ings: Checking for the Essex Skipper amongst the local butterfly population
Meet at 10.30am at Sourby Old Farm, SE167530
Leader: Paul Millard – 01756 720490
04 August Botany – Dib Head, Conistone
Meet 10.00am Conistone Bridge SD978675
Leader: Bruce Brown
Parking particularly tight

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.

National Badger Week

Badger-trustNational Badger Week, organised by the Badger Trust, is due to take place from 25th June – 2nd July. A celebration of badgers, it also promises to focus on a number of issues that affect their daily lives. Badgers have existed in our landscape for many years and, despite their elusive behaviour, are one of the UK’s most popular mammals.

There will be numerous different events up and down the country which will focus on the badger’s ecology and behaviour and how best we can protect this species from many of the threats it faces. More information on National Badger Week can be found here.

Big Butterfly Count 15 July – 7 August, 2016

Big Butterfly Count
The Big Butterfly Count starts again on the 15th July. Over 52,000 people took part last year counting over 580,000 individual butterflies – the results are listed below. It is fast becoming the biggest butterfly survey of its kind and all that is required is a simple butterfly count for 15 minutes during bright, preferably sunny, weather between July 15th and the 7th August. You can submit separate records for different dates at the same place, and for different places visited at www.bigbutterflycount.org. A handy identification chart can be found here or you may wish to  install the Big Butterfly Count smartphone app for iOS and Android.

Abundance % change from 2014
1 Gatekeeper 106995 17
2 Large White 83042 46
3 Meadow Brown 76713 16
4 Small White 72483 -3
5 Peacock 42754 -61
6 Small Tortoiseshell 31322 -57
7 Ringlet 27604 75
8 Red Admiral 21027 -28
9 Comma 18765 42
10 Common Blue 17932 -12
11 Green-veined White 14437 -42
12 Speckled Wood 12342 -25
13 Large Skipper 11198 24
14 Holly Blue 10334 151
15 Six-spot Burnet 9448 2
16 Marbled White 8071 52
17 Painted Lady 7416 28
18 Brimstone 6075 18
19 Small Copper 4395 -28
20 Silver Y 1912 92

For more information and an interactive map of the 2015 results please click here. More information about taking part in the 2016 survey is available here.

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.

Nature’s Calendar – Woodland Trust

The Woodland Trust’s species of the month, from their latest Nature Calendar, is the dog rose. Usually found in hedgerows, woodland edges and scrubland it flowers in May and June and exhibits large pink or white five petalled flowers with a faint sweet smell. It bares fruit in Autumn with the resulting rose hips a good source of vitamin C and traditionally used to make syrups to boost levels.

Also featured is the story of Alice Clark who set out to walk the country at the ‘speed’ of spring (1.9 miles an hour), recording how it unfolded over a two week period; the BBC Countryfile Diaries on Robert Marsham, considered as the founding father of the study of phenology (the study of the timing of seasonal events), and his ‘indications of spring’; a useful guide to identifying birds from egg shells you might find when out and about.

Nature Station’s Wildlife Calendar – May

Nature Station’s May entry in their ongoing wildlife calendar has a good summary of some of the things we can expect to see this month. They mention the rising temperatures and still frequent rain showers are responsible for the vigorous growth of flowering plants in our gardens. It is true to say many people’s gardens look their best at this time of year. Some plants that we might consider weeds, and spend time trying to control, can actually enhance other wildlife. Dandelions and Sorrel are an example; the latter being the main larval foodplant of the Small copper butterfly. Click here to read more.

Big Garden Birdwatch 2016 Results

The results from the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch 2016 have been released with a total bird count of over eight million. The House sparrow was found to be the most recorded bird in the UK again although the Starling was the most commonly seen in Northern Ireland. Around four House sparrows were seen in each person’s garden. The results are as follows:

Top 10 UK overall

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

Top 5 by country

  • House sparrow
  • Blue tit
  • Starling
  • Blackbird
  • Woodpigeon
Northern Ireland
  • Starling
  • House sparrow
  • Chaffinch
  • Blue tit
  • Blackbird
  • House sparrow
  • Chaffinch
  • Starling
  • Blackbird
  • Blue tit
  • House sparrow
  • Blue tit
  • Starling
  • Chaffinch
  • Blackbird

The Chaffinch ranked higher in Scotland than anywhere else and the Blue tit appeared in 82% of people’s gardens in Wales. It is thought January’s mild weather led to higher counts of smaller birds, such as long-tailed tits and coal tits, since more were able to survive the winter. The long-tailed tit was a new entry for 2016 – in at 10th position. The blackbird was the most widespread garden bird appearing in 88% of people’s gardens but numbers have still been declining since the first Birdwatch in 1979.

April Newsletter, 2016

You can download the April Newsletter and coach outing booking form below:
April Newsletter
Coach Outing Booking Form

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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Moth report for 2015

mothUnfortunately, the moth report for 2015, from Joyce and Mike Clerk, did not make it into the printed copy of the review so, if you wish to find what 2015 was like for moths, please download your copy here. Many thanks to Joyce and Mike for compiling this detailed report.

Commemorative Publications

Jeff Davitt has kindly scanned three commemorative publications marking 25, 40 and 50 years of the Society:

25 years of the WNS
40 years of the WNS
50 years of the WNS

Hay Time

The Wharfedale Naturalists are pleased to be able to continue their support for the Yorkshire Dales Millenium Trust’s ‘Hay Time’ programme, by contributing towards equipment. This will help in assisting them with their vital work to save the remaining species-rich hay meadows in the Yorkshire Dales. Previously, funding was provided for two leaf vacuums which have been well used and are in need of a service. In addition to this, a further petrol blower and vacuum kit will be provided and several replacement parts for the existing equipment.

If you would like to find out more about this project please click here. The Yorkshire Dales Millenium Trust would like to thank all members for this kind contribution.

Yorkshire Mammal Group July Newsletter

Yorkshire Mammal Group
The Yorkshire Mammal Group’s July 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.


There are approximately 7000 species of amphibian in the world. That’s a lot of species to remember! Luckily the British Isles is home only 7, which makes things a lot easier. So roll up your sleeves and let’s get frog hunting as David explores how to identify British Amphibians in this video: