Welcome to the Wharfedale Naturalists Society


Take a look at our Calendar of Events

December 6 Birding
Eccup Circular Walk
Meet IOB 9am or 9.30am near Bank House Farm SE292423 (park on roadside)
Leader: David Smith – 600613
December 9 Tuesday Evening Talk
‘Northumberland Through the Seasons’ – Tim Melling
Wonderful natural history from this ever popular presenter
January 3 Winter Walk
Winter Walk round Fewston Reservoir
Meet 9.15am Swinsty Moor Car Park SE 186538 Leaders: Peter and Anne Riley – 862916
January 13 Tuesday Evening Talk
‘Brazilian Odyssey – Habitats and Wildlife of Brazil’ – Peter and Barbara Murphy
A Brazilian tour de force!
January 27 Tuesday Evening Talk
‘More Wild Life, Wild Places’ – John Gardner
A welcome return for a local photographer and naturalist
February 10 Tuesday Evening Talk
‘Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and its Reserves’ – Ros Lilley ‘African Memories’ – David Alred
Contrasting presentations by two WNS members
February 24 Tuesday Evening Talk
‘Conserving Nature in The Dales – Couldn’t We Do Better?’ – Peter Welsh, Ecologist, N. Trust Dales Estate A thought-provoking look at Dales natural history
March 10 Tuesday Evening Talk
Recorders’ Evening A selection of our Recorders’ highlights from 2014
March 19 Annual Dinner
At Otley Golf Club Details in the January Newsletter Contact: Christine Hobson – 464346
March 24 Tuesday Evening Talk
AGM Interval with Tea/Coffee ‘Three Small Gems of South India – a Natural History and Cultural Tour’ – Sean Radcliffe A fascinating end to our Winter Season

Full programme here

All Tuesday evening talks are held at Christchurch, The Grove, Ilkley starting at 7-30pm.

Convert your lawn into a Meadow

Wildflower MeadowHave you ever thought about converting your lawn into a meadow?  If you are keen on attracting more wildlife to your garden it could worth considering.  One couple, who enjoyed the pleasure wildlife brought to their garden, decided to make it more ‘bee friendly’ by digging up their back lawn and doing just that.  With a bit of hard work and patience they were able to enjoy the fruits of their labor by attracting not only bees but previously absent butterflies including Common Blue, Meadow Brown, Small Skipper, several different species of hoverfly and also a 6 spotted burnet moth.

If you wish to embark on such a project the most important thing to do is remove as much grass as you can, either by digging up the turf, using herbicide, or you can cover it with plastic sheeting and wait until all the grass dies off.  This is to prevent the grasses out-competing the wildflowers.  Once you have removed all the grass it is time to plant the wildflower seeds or grass and wildflower mix.  This should be carried out in autumn or spring and you have to prepare the soil by raking.  It is important to keep watering to give the seeds the best chance of germinating.  After that it is a case of making sure the seedlings are not disturbed and slowly your meadow should start to develop.

This is a short summary of the project so if you are serious about trying it please click here for more information and if you wish to view this full article, on the Bumblebee Conservation Trust blog, click here.

The Butterflies leave us

Red AdmiralIt’s November, and the Summer flutterings are becoming a distant memory. A few still appear on a sunny day, usually a Red Admiral on ivy flowers, or the wallflower Bowles Mauve. Other plants can attract – we have just had reports on insects on the flowers of the Strawberry Tree arbutus – including a Red Admiral on November 9th.

Some local butterflies have found their winter home in local sheds, or garages, or woodpiles. These species are the Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell, and outside the properties the Comma and Brimstone. All these insects can hibernate, in other words reduce their body temperature and settle down to wait for the Spring and the warmer weather to return. Others, the Painted Lady and the Red Admiral, migrate back to warmer climates we are told. The Painted Lady it is said flies high on its return journey, but in recent years we have had so few that any migration would not be noticed. However, we have had many reports of Red Admirals, and this year two of our members witnessed here in the dales a reverse migration.

On the 12 October Nyree and David Fearnley were walking along the track from Malham Tarn to Arncliffe Cote when they saw every now and then a Red Admiral in flight, always going Southerly, some 10-15 insects in total. There were also one or two on the riverside path between Hawkswick & Arncliffe, and the last one they saw was in the middle of Arncliffe village. If you have seen any butterflies recently, and more particularly anything like a migration, please let either me or the webmaster know.

Dave Howson davehowson@blueyonder.co.uk


Fungus_smallThis summer has given us a mixture of weather conditions with some hot, dry periods and also our fair share of rainfall.  There has also been talk of a possible Indian Summer which will no doubt have an effect our wildlife. Trying to predict whether this will be a good year for fungi is difficult, but there have been encouraging reports so far.  Our lawn has been sporting a few specimens, which puts you in a dilemma when you want to cut the grass!

Species to look out for are the Giant Puffball, the Stinkhorn (which you may smell before you see) and, as we move further into Autumn, you may spot the beautiful, but deadly poisonous, Fly Agaric.  This is arguably our most famous toadstool and has long been associated with fairies and pixies.

Butterfly Conservation’s Autumn Newsletter

Butterfly Conservation

Thank you very much to everyone who has contributed records so far for 2014 in VC64; It has been most helpful to be able to get the bulk of the records in stages throughout the season. To those still to send records in, please don’t leave it too long, please let’s try if you can to get them in by late October, or early November. I don’t have a lot of time in December and odd late sightings (stragglers) can be sent in later.

Dave Hatton – Butterfly Co-ordinator VC64.

To view the full newsletter click here. If you still have records to send in please continue to send them to David Howson, and he will make sure Butterfly Conservation receives them, after adding them to the Society’s database.