The meeting on March 14th was billed as, ‘ what Wharfedale Naturalists is all about – recording and conserving our wildlife throughout the dale.’ The recorders for weather, birds, butterflies, bees and insects and vertebrates all reported in an interesting and informative way reaffirming our good fortune in living in such a beautiful diverse dale.
Peter Bancroft reported on the weather recordings. 2016 was similar to previous years with no outstanding features. No sustained sub zero temperatures, a wet January followed by a cool spring and average summer and overall rainfall was less than average.
Catherine Burton emphasised the importance of records for conservation, research, planning and interest. She urged members to send in records stating, Who? What? When and Where? She followed this by a brief talk on the identification of bees. Most people think of bees as either honey bees or bumble bees but there are in fact 250 species.
Butterflies were the next category. Records here were significantly down but this maybe due to a variety of reasons as well as climate change and loss of habitat. In contrast the records for vertebrates were up. One highlight was the arrival of red squirrel at Nethergill Farm and otter sightings on the Wharfe had increased.
The main features of the bird records were the poor breeding statistics for raptors and owls but the fine weather at the end of the summer helped other species who had later broods. A highlight was a gathering of up to 20,000 starlings on Otley Wetlands.
The next meeting is on 28th March. The lecture is titled, Freda’s Fungi and is a tribute to Freda Draper who died earlier in 2016, a great recorder and naturalist.