Welcome to the Wharfedale Naturalists’ Society


The winter programme is now available…
October 25 Tuesday Evening Meetings – ‘Butterflies of the North-West’
Chris Winnick (Chair of Cumbria Branch, Butterfly Conservation)
A report on the status of butterflies in this lovely region
October 29 (Sat) Birding – Staveley Nature Reserve
Meet 10.30am at reserve car park SE369630
Leaders: Brenda and Derek Parkin – 864036
November 5 (Sat) Special Events – Coffee/Social Morning
10am to 12 noon, Clarke Foley Centre, Ilkley All proceeds go to support local conservation
Contact: Christine Hobson – 464346
November 8 Tuesday Evening Meetings – ‘The Haytime Project in the Yorkshire Dales’
Tanya St. Pierre (YD Millennium Trust)
Botany Presentation
Nicky Vernon, Botany Recorder
November 12 (Sat) Special Events – Coach Trip to Martin Mere WWT and Bird Fair
(bring Membership card or pay) Booking form/pickup times with August Newsletter
Names to Michael Brear – 07552 738324
November 22 Tuesday Evening Meetings – ‘Farming and Yorkshire Wildlife’
Chris Tomson, Conservation Adviser, RSPB
Liaising with farmers to promote wildlife conservation

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.

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.

State of Nature Report 2016

The State of Nature Report is the result of a collaboration between over 50 different organisations to assess how nature is faring across the UK and its territories. Out of 8,000 species of highest conservation concern, 15% were found to be threatened with extinction in Great Britain. The UK has the 189th lowest ‘Biodiversity intactness index’ out of 218 countries assessed – a measure of how damaged our nature is. The two most important factors this is attributed to is climate change and agriculture, highlighting the importance of carbon footprints and wildlife friendly farming schemes. Not all species have been suffering however: our cleaner rivers have been good for otter populations, red kites soar over much of our countryside and butterflies such as silver-spotted skippers and large blues are faring well. Click here to read the report.

The Zach Haynes Petition

Zach Haynes
Many thanks to Dr Stephen Ward for his interesting talk, entitled ‘Between a Rock and a Hard Place – the Limestone Pavements of Britain and Ireland’. One of the worrying things that came out of the talk, was how we intend to protect these unique habitats in the future. It was sad to see them being broken up and fragments appearing in garden centres.

With the impending exit from the EU, we all hope they are not forgotten about and Dr Ward drew attention to the Zach Haynes Petition – a petition started by a 12 year old boy to preserve important EU legislation which currently protects such habitats. If you wish to find out more about the petition, or sign it, please visit the following page on the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s website.

The petition requires 10,000 signatures in order for the government to respond and 100,000 for it to be considered for debate in Parliament.

Photo by the YWT.

August Newsletter, 2016

August news 2016_Page_1
You can download the August Newsletter and the winter coach outing booking form below:
August Newsletter
Winter Coach Outing Booking Form

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!

Save nature on road verges campaign

Roadside verges are often a haven for plants that have been driven out of our farmland. As a result they are often fantastic habitat for insects such as bees, butterflies and other wildlife. Read how a number of roadside verges in Oxfordshire have been identified as having ecological interest and other inspiring stories here. If this is of interest you could sign Plantlife’s petition to convince other County Councils of their importance and maybe they will be managed in a similar way.

Nature Back From The Brink

Led by Natural England, ‘Back from the Brink’ is an innovative new project with the purpose of saving some of our rarest and most threatened wildlife. It is the coming together of many different conservation organisations, including the Amphibian and Reptile Trust, Bat Conservation, Buglife, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation, Plantlife and the RSPB, with the goal to save 20 species from extinction and help another 118 on the road to recovery.

Still in the planning and development phase, the project would like to know people’s views on saving English wildlife and you can express these by taking part in the following online survey.

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/.

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.

Yorkshire Mammal Group October Newsletter

Yorkshire Mammal Group
The Yorkshire Mammal Group’s October 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.

Please leave this field empty.

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Your Message

Please ensure you have filled in the required fields before clicking on send.

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: