Welcome to the Wharfedale Naturalists’ Society


Take a look at our upcoming events…
July 19
Botany – Kettlewell, Scargill House
Meet 10am SD975711. Toilets available, also cuppa.
Leader: Nyree Fearnley
Aug 2
Botany – Malham, Board Walk to Orchid House
Meet 10.30am old quarry parking area SD882671. Easy walking.
Leader Nicky Vernon
Aug 16
Botany – Burnsall Riverside Walk
Meet 10am riverside car park (£4 all day), SE031611.
Leader: Bruce Brown

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.

Concerns over raw sewage in the River Wharfe

Vice president of the WNS, Karen Shackleton, has raised concerns over raw sewage being discharged into the River Wharfe near the sewage works in Ilkley. Please click here to read more about the story which has already attracted local media interest, and looks set to feature on Look North this coming week.  Members of the WNS  and local residents are concerned about the potential impact on aquatic biota which includes the river’s otter population.  

Rodley Nature Reserve Flood Alleviation Scheme

Following a consultation late last year on options for the second phase of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme and detailed discussions with key stakeholders and residents, the option of Rodley Nature Reserve as a location will no longer be pursued for water storage to reduce flood risk.

Leeds FAS Rodley Nature Reserve decision

Marsh harrier incident on Denton Moor

Many people were saddened to hear about the Marsh harrier incident on Denton Moor where a nest was illegally targeted in an attempt to stop them breeding. RSPB video footage was captured on a hidden camera. Peter Riley wrote a letter on behalf of the Society to NG Bailey who own the moor. If you wish to read the correspondence we have uploaded Peter’s letter and NG Bailey’s response. North Yorkshire Police have been unable to track down the individuals responsible.

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 2017

Big Butterfly Count
The Big Butterfly Count 2017 was by far the most successful year to date with a 64% increase in the number of butterfly counts and a 66% increase in the number of participants compared to the previous year. The Gatekeeper was the most counted butterfly closely followed by the Red Admiral which had a remarkably good summer.  There was an overall decline in the number of common ‘whites’ with a 38% and 37% decline for the Large White and the Small White respectively. Low numbers of Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock also continue to cause concern. The full results are listed in the table below:

    Abundance % change from 2016
1 Gatekeeper 93171 24%
2 Red Admiral 73161 75%
3 Meadow Brown 69528 -23%
4 Small White 61812 -37%
5 Large White 61064 -38%
6 Peacock 29454 1%
7 Comma 22436 90%
8 Small Tortoiseshell 20267 4%
9 Common Blue 19567 109%
10 Speckled Wood 18639 15%
11 Ringlet 18381 -57%
12 Green-veined White 16456 -38%
13 Six-spot Burnet 9517 -28%
14 Painted Lady 8737 31%
15 Large Skipper 6579 -49%
16 Holly Blue 5929 -5%
17 Small Copper 5814 62%
18 Brimstone 5281 -7%
19 Marbled White 4894 -67%
20 Silver Y 1923 -2%

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. 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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