Welcome to the Wharfedale Naturalists Society


Take a look at our upcoming events…

Jun 2 Sun Lane Nature Reserve – Nature Walk
Park Sun Lane/Hall Drive; meet 7pm SE 157466
Leaders: Peter and Anne Riley – 862916
Jun 2 – 4 Visit to Anglesey – Botany
Visits to Cors Goch, The Ranges, Porth Diana & Aberffraw
Dunes. Further details from Nicky asap
Jun 6 Grass Wood – Summer Visits
Meet 10am Quarry car park SD983652
Leader: Audrey Gramshaw – 872420
Jun 9 Otley Wetland Nature Reserve (gate locked at 7pm) – Nature Walk
Meet at Reserve gate SE201458
Leader: Nevil Bowland – 878511
Jun 11 WoodlHigh/Low Greenfield – Botany
Meet 9am Ilkley Old Bridge to car-share & check venue.
Leaders: Heather Burrow, Nicky Vernon
Jun 16 Timble Ings – Owls, Nightjars (& Midges!) – Nature Walk
Meet at SE167530 (7pm this year – we will stay later if any sign of nightjars!)
Insect repellent advised.
Leaders: Ken and Pat Limb 876419
Jun 23 Rodley Nature Reserve (off A657) – Summer Visits
Meet 10am at Reserve SE228363
Leaders: Peter and Barbara Murphy – 01132930188
Jun 25 Strans Gill Survey – Botany
Meet 10am at Reserve SE228363
Leader: Peter Katic, National Trust, Upper Dales
Jun 28 Nethergill Farm, Oughtershaw – Summer Visits
Meet 10:15am at farm SD 861821
Names to Helen Steward, please – 430398

The latest programme is available here.

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

Nethergill Farm Events 2015

June 13 Wildlife Photography – Simon Phillpotts
August 1 Loosen up your watercolour technique – Rachel McNaughton

Click here for more information.

WNS Newsletter

News-letterThe Spring Newsletter is now available here along with the following:

Booking form for the Coach Outing
Order form for our Annual Review 2014
Subscription renewal form

Please ignore the subscriptions renewal if you have already paid!


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.

Yorkshire Red Kite Newsletter – Issue 16

Red Kite
Please find the Yorkshire Red Kite Newsletter (Issue 16) here. Red Kites have continued to thrive in Yorkshire and breeding pairs have now reached treble figures for the first time since their reintroduction in 1999. They can be quite a distraction when travelling through some regions. One breeding pair have reportedly raised nine young, which has given numbers an extra boost.

Photo by Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK (Red Kite 9 Uploaded by Magnus Manske) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Butterfly Recording

Since David Howson’s retirement, Diane Morris and Paul Millard have kindly offered to take over as butterfly recorders. We would like to thank them for taking on the role and wish them the very best with the butterfly season approaching. As part of their new recording system, they have a new form, which they would like to encourage Wharfedale Naturalist members to use. This 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 would like to add that the butterfly recording should be a pleasure, and not a chore, so if you’re in doubt about anything on the spreadsheet please let her know, using the contact form below, or leave the entry blank.

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)


Your Message

Clicking send will forward your message to Diane.

Butterfly Conservation’s Spring Newsletter from Dave Hatton

Butterfly Conservtation
The Newsletter contains some very interesting information including the results from the last five years of recording in VC64. It’s good to hear that Clouded Yellow are becoming more numerous and Dark Green Fritillary appear to be getting more common too.

To view the Newsletter click here. Remember to send your 2015 records into Diane Morris and she will make sure BC receives them, after adding them to the Society’s database.

Big Garden Birdwatch 2015

Goldfinch pair
The results of the Big Garden Birdwatch are in with over half a million participants and 8.5 million birds counted. In addition, people were asked to record other garden visitors such as slow worms, grass snakes, squirrels, deer, badgers and hedgehogs. The top ten birds seen this year were:

  • House sparrow
  • Starling
  • Blackbird
  • Blue tit
  • Wood pigeon
  • Chaffinch
  • Robin
  • Great tit
  • Goldfinch
  • Collared dove

Out of the birds on the increase, Blackbirds were the most widely spotted garden bird, visiting more than 90 percent of people’s gardens. Robins have increased in popularity, jumping from 10th most popular in 2014, to 7th in 2015. Twice as many people saw Wrens this year than last and were spotted by 35 percent of participants.

Birds on the decline include the Song thrush, Greenfinch and Starling. Song thrushes are at an all-time low and have dropped to 22nd in the rankings and continue to remain on the red list of species. Greenfinches have plummeted to 25th place, which is the result of Trichomonosis, a parasitic disease, that has spread throughout the bird population, since it was first recognised, in 2005. It is thought the parasite may have jumped from Wood pigeon’s, who are carriers, to finches, at shared feeding stations. To help reduce further spread of the disease, the RSPB recommends giving bird feeders and bird baths a regular clean.

More information on this fantastic survey can be found by visiting the RSPB website here.

Photo by Sylvia Duckworth [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Overwintering butterflies

Reports of butterfly sightings have started again. We were surprised to find a Comma in our garden a few weeks ago and since then other reports have started to come in. Our Gravel Pits work party disturbed a Peacock which flew out of a rabbit hole much to their surprise. It prompted an enthusiastic phone call! One of my clients also reported a sighting whilst attending a church service at Bolton Abbey. That is just to name a few.

At this time of year you will see some of the more hardy butterflies that have been tempted out of hibernation on warm, sunny days. These include the Peacock, Comma, Small Tortoiseshell and Brimstone. All but the Brimstone belong to the Nymphalidae family – a large family encompassing many of the orangey-brown species along with others such as the Fritillaries and the Painted lady. The Brimstone belongs to the Pieridae family which includes most of the commonly known ‘Whites’ and one of the characteristics they share is the skittle-shaped eggs they lay.

Red Admirals are typically migrants but some do survive mild winters (mostly in Southern England). If conditions are right it is possible to see this species almost all year round but early sightings are rare and they are not thought to hibernate as such. Peacocks have been known to surface on warm, sunny days as early as January but are more commonly seen along with the Small Tortoiseshell and Comma in early Spring. Overwintering Comma butterflies usually have darker uppers, compared to their newly emerged counterparts of early summer. Brimstones are one of the longest living of British butterflies and can be seen throughout much of the year despite only having one brood.

Photo – March Comma by Dave Howson

The Cuckoo Project


In the last twenty-five years we have lost over half our breeding Cuckoos in the UK. In order to understand this decline, more information was needed about their annual cycle and a project was set up to study the movements of a series of birds, throughout the seasons, by tracking them with newly developed satellite tags. The one on the left is affectionately known as Chris! Recently, two of the tagged individuals have just started their long journey back from Africa to the UK breeding grounds. Please visit the BTO website, by clicking here, to see these movements for yourself and find out more about this fascinating project.

Missing Siskins

SiskinDavid Brear kindly sent me a mail with a link to an interesting article on Siskins. Apparently he had been chatting with Peter and Anne Riley about the lack of Siskins on their bird feeders lately. It occurred to me, we too hadn’t seen this, once frequent visitor to our garden, for some time. This article he sent me could explain why.

Photo by Holly Occhipinti (Siskin Uploaded by Snowmanradio) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons