1 2 3 14

Useful links regarding invasive species

Following his interesting lecture on invasive non-native species, John Cave of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has provided the following useful links on the topic:

Contacting YWT


Recording sightings


Information about invasive species



Hartlepool and Teesmouth, Tuesday 18th February 2020

As a consequence of Storm Ciara, our proposed trip had to be delayed until the following week, when the high tide on our arrival was not ideal for wader watching. Our first stop was along the seafront at Hartlepool where a small rocky island was still above sea level and we were in luck as three Purple Sandpipers were found – a wader for everyone’s list! Turnstones and Redshanks were also feeding there but, within ten minutes, the rocks had disappeared under water. At the headland, sea watching was very quiet with a few Common Guillemots, Eiders and a flying Red-throated Diver being the only birds of interest. Further along the sea front, more Turnstones, Redshanks and Oystercatchers were seen. The Continental race of Cormorant, sinensis, attracted some attention. A walk to the entrance of the fish quay rewarded us with an elusive Rock Pipit and a small group of feeding Eiders. On closer inspection, a smaller duck amongst them proved to be a female Long-tailed Duck – an excellent find!

Lunch was taken at Newburn Bridge where the usual wintering Mediterranean Gull was present; at this location Ringed Plover, Sanderling and three Great Crested Grebes out on the sea were added to the list. A drive along the road at Seaton Common was worthwhile as two Whooper Swans were present – another good find. The visit to North Gare was cut short by the only heavy shower of the day and so we quickly moved on the RSPB Saltholme Reserve, parts of which were badly flooded. However, we did see Red-breasted Merganser, Pintail, hundreds of Wigeon, Black-tailed Godwit, Little Egret, many Golden Plovers and a Marsh Harrier. A Long-eared Owl was seen by one intrepid member who braved a long, muddy walk.

Although it was a sunny day, the wind was rather fresh but we did find a good number of species, only three less than in previous years. A total of 67 was excellent and all credit to the members of the group who persevered in not ideal conditions.

June E. Atkinson.

Bird list

Bryophyte workshop at Staveley, 14th January 2020

A workshop concentrating on mosses was organised in response to requests by society members who had negligible skills with this taxonomic group.

Keying out bryophytes

Keying out bryophytes

The full day workshop was led by Nick Gaunt and 8 members attended. A range of microscopes was provided to aid identification.

After an introduction we collected a variety of samples from the Staveley reserve itself and also a surprising variety from the area surrounding Muff’s house. Apart from morphological features, details of the habitat and substrate on which the moss grows are also important in identification, so these were noted on collection.
The main key used was the British Bryological Society’s own publication ‘Mosses and liverworts of Britain and Ireland’ Ed. Atherton, Bosanquet and Lawley, though other keys were briefly compared. The photographs in Atherton proved a useful check and the notes provided many useful comments about each species distribution, ecology and confusions. The most important task was understanding the terminology, particularly when terms appeared self evident but actually had quite narrow meanings in this context. Nick patiently assisted as we worked through the key with a number of species in small groups, developing our understanding in the process. Nick’s extensive ID skills have developed over a lifetime so the rest of us, now that we understand the fundamental terminology, require repeated practice and observation to ensure we progress.

Many thanks to Nick for sharing his expertise, developing our curiosity and being so patient with our questions.

Hazel Mitford

Nosterfield Complex, Nicholson’s Lagoon, YWT Ripon City Wetands. Tuesday 7th January 2020

Leader: June Atkinson.

Amid an unsettled spell of weather, this trip took place on an unexpectedly dry day which was ‘ unseasonably warm’, whatever that means these days. At Nosterfield, we found the Lapwings were very unsettled and frequently put the Golden Plover flock up with them while the Curlews were more settled and the 4 Grey Herons stood quite unperturbed throughout. A Little Egret flew amongst the swirling flocks, but we could see no raptor to account for the flighty waders.

The water levels at the reserve were high and ducks present included Tufted, Shoveler, Mallard and Teal.
Unable to spot the long staying American vagrant, Lesser Yellowlegs amongst the Redshanks at Nosterfield we relocated to Lingham. Here we added female Scaup, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Pintail, Shelduck and Redwing to the list. Rumours reached us that the female Smew could be at Ladybridge Lake just down the road, so we went to investigate. On this site views are limited due to access, and unfortunately the Smew was not seen.

After lunch we parked at Ripon Canal and walked up to view Nicholson’s Lagoon. There were several Goldeneye and two species of geese, Greylag and Canada, amid the usual ducks. Determined to add the YWT Ripon City to our itinerary for the first time this year, we had a pleasant walk further up the canal and entered the wetlands at Renton Bridge. A splendid male Red crested Pochard, and a male Pochard for comparison, were located very quickly on the lagoon nearest to the canal side. A small flock of Linnets and Goldfinches were in the canal side trees.
This was a very good start to the year’s birding and enjoyed by all 11 members who attended, with 58 species seen. Thanks to June for her leadership.

PS. The Lesser Yellowlegs returned to the Nosterfield reserve on the following days and was subsequently seen by many lucky birders.

Sue Coldwell

Species List

New Year Flower Hunt, Staveley Nature Reserve, 4th January 2020


This was the ninth year of the New Year Plant Hunt organised by the BSBI, in which almost 1,500 volunteers took part in a national search for flowers in the middle of winter. The idea is to build up a picture of how our wild or naturalised plants are responding to changes in weather patterns.
Harrogate Naturalists of course took part with 12 members turning up, accompanied by one reporter from a national newspaper, who was writing an article about the event. Kevin Walker’s family also came along which made the occasion very enjoyable. It is always reassuring to explore nature with children since their knowledge is our future.

After warming up with food and drink, we began our search in the environs of Muff and Jack Upsall’s house which is located beside the nature reserve. We then progressed into the reserve itself. Despite the previous wet weather, in three hours we found a total of 14 species. These included Ulex europaeus, Gorse and Corylus avellana, Hazel. Interestingly, although Bellis perennis, Daisy was the commonest plant found nationally, we did not find it ourselves. We did however, find some lovely bright coloured plants-as well as the yellow Gorse we also found Lamium purpureum, Red Dead-nettle and blue Veronica persica, Common Field-speedwell.

White Deadnettle

White Deadnettle

It would appear that our results paled in comparison with those in some other parts of the country. There is a participant from Swanage who records over 100 species each year. And one lady even submitted her records on her way home from the London new year fireworks! It is important to mention however that even if there were some volunteers who perhaps hunted for three hours in some areas and found nothing, these nil records are equally important. They will also contribute to the picture of our changing weather.

To date, 769 lists have been received and 623 species have been recorded. If you want to see the results in full and comparisons with other years, then please look at the BSBI website: https://bsbi.org/new-year-plant-hunt

See you next January!

Sonia Starbuck

Plant list

‘Field’ Trip to Allerton Waste Recovery Park, 6th December 2019

As we shivered in the car park at the AWRP site, the 12 members of HDNS were thinking that indoor field trips were a very good idea in winter! In fact this trip was the most popular we have ever organised, fully booked the day after the newsletter came out! Clearly, household rubbish is more alluring than wildlife…
The reams of paperwork with rules, restrictions and warnings had led us to expect a Fort Knox like institution, but we had an informal welcome into the smart new visitor centre, with free drinks on offer, and were treated to an informative and well-illustrated description of the plant’s main processes. Quite a lot of this was new to most of us, for instance the high-tech sorting facilities which diverted various metals, paper, different coloured plastics etc to other downstream processes. Only the completely non-recyclable material is actually burned. The organic material is fermented in a huge anaerobic digester which produces methane used on the site.
One of the good things about the visit was that we were encouraged to ask questions – and we had plenty. After this introduction we set off on our tour of the plant, where we discovered that simply watching household rubbish moving up a conveyor belt is completely fascinating. … We were struck by the size and complexity of the engineering, occupying vast halls several storeys high. A monstrous claw operated from behind a glass screen as it scooped tonnes of rubbish and added them to a huge pile, ready for the incinerator which could be seen glowing in the background. Like our guide, the operators of the machinery were very ready to talk about the job. Allerton Park employs about 90 staff, but we saw few of them as the jobs we saw were highly automated. There is however a stage of hand-picking at the end of the sorting process, but we did not see this except on video.
Last stage was the control room, and again the staff were happy to chat, showed us their screens on which the gases from the incinerator are constantly displayed, and many other statistics involved in monitoring the process.

We all felt we had learnt a lot, and on the whole were more favourably disposed to what we had previously considered to be just a blot on the landscape. Very different from the usual field trip, but fascinating and relevant nonetheless.

Muff Upsall

Winter Walk, 10th December 2019

True to tradition, our Christmas winter walk this year was led by Colin Slator.
Ten of us travelled initially by car from Ripon along hitherto unexplored back roads, stopping here and there to scan the expansive vistas. Snippets of history and geology coloured the views with tales of ownership and family fall-outs and, here and there, we found birds – some Scandinavian Thrushes, a flock of Linnet and also a mixed flock searching the mast from autumn leaf litter – eking out an existence from the depleted landscape.

Brian Morland

Brian Morland

‘Mindful management and conservation of the land’ was certainly a theme which continued upon our arrival at Bellflask at East Tanfield where we met with Brian Morland. His passionate custodianship of this place was evident. He reiterated what we, as naturalists, readily understand: if we sanitise the countryside imposing neatness and order upon nettles, thistles, ragwort and other ‘perceived weeds’, then we remove the food source for our bird populations. For example, he showed us the micro moth larvae safely bedded down within a teasel seed head, which act as vital store cupboards for future meals.

We felt privileged to be guided round his ‘patch’ where his intimate knowledge was such that he can even identify the many individual Bittern that he has encountered there.
On the day of our visit any sensible birds were hunkered down. However, we still managed a reasonable tally of duck (including Wigeon, Goldeneye, Teal, Tufted Duck and Mallard) and multiple Little Grebe as well as a Great Crested Grebe. As well as the standard Mute swans we also encountered two Whooper swans. The bushes held some mobile mixed flocks which included Gold Crests and Tree Creepers.

I don’t think I need to mention the weather as the accompanying pictures adequately convey the conditions. Suffice it to say our lovely Christmas Dinner at the Black Bull was well earned.
Many thanks to Muff for organising this and Colin for his expert guidance.

Birding Bellflask

Birding Bellflask

Ah Colin, what a gent!

Ah Colin, what a gent!

All-terrain trike

All-terrain trike

Sue Harrison

Trip to YWT Spurn Point , Tuesday 10th September 2019

Leader: June Atkinson

Dunlin (Peter Thomson)

Dunlin (Peter Thomson)

This popular venue attracted 14 members and it was a perfect day for the visit. After stopping at The Bluebell car park to pick up a Wheatear and some Sandwich Terns over the sea, reports of a White Rumped Sandpiper made YWT Kilnsea Wetlands the next stop of the day. After sifting through many Dunlin and Redshank we saw this tiny wader make a run for open ground and this was our first sighting of it. There were subsequent views as it fed around the lagoon edge. While we scanned the wetland a Greenshank, a single Avocet and several Pintail and Wigeon added interest, with Curlew seen feeding in the adjacent grassland.
Our next target bird was the reported Barred Warbler at the Warren, and we eventually found it flitting around with a Lesser Whitethroat and Garden Warbler.
Whinchat (Peter Thomson)

Whinchat (Peter Thomson)

The sea watch was fairly uneventful but the wonderfully colourful flower meadow attracted Whinchats in double figures, a Stonechat, Yellow Wagtails, hoards of Goldfinches and Linnets and a few Greenfinches.
Canal Scrape hosted a Common Snipe but the Little Stint was reported later in the day.
The high tide wader roost was pretty spectacular with a supporting cast of a close-in Whimbrel and some stunning Grey Plovers, most in breeding plumage.
Thanks to June for a truly memorable trip.

Spurn Point list Sept 2019

Fungus Foray, Swinsty Reservoir, Saturday 21 September 2019

Andy demonstrating a fungus to members 190921-114636_DC-G9_P1133185
Nine HDNS members braved the UCI road closures to drive successfully to Swinsty Reservoir for the Harrogate Autumn Fungi Show. What’s more, we all managed to arrive at the correct car park, where we met three members from the Mid Yorkshire Fungus Group, led by Andy Woodall.

At a guess, it took at least an hour before we left the car park due to the astonishing variety of fungi so close by. In the first few minutes we had come across Stinking Parasol, Dyer’s Mazegill, Fly Agaric, Poison Pie and Weeping Widow (with gills which ‘weep’ when moist). We were grateful to Andy’s friend Joyce who has such boundless energy and never seemed to stop searching for different specimens along the way. Together we found well over fifty species of fungi, covering a whole range of genera including Amanita, Coprinus (inkcaps), Hygrocybe (waxcaps), Hypholoma, Lactarius (milkcaps) and Russula (brittlegills).

Dyer's Mazegill (Phaeolus schweinitzii)

Dyer’s Mazegill (Phaeolus schweinitzii)

Eventually we managed to leave the car park and progressed along one of the paths. Andy soon spotted Ergot, Claviceps purpurea, which forms in the inflorescences of grasses. It is violet-black in colour and deadly poisonous. This poisoning has been recorded since the Middle Ages and many superstitions have grown up around it. Apparently, the link between ergotism and infected grain was only fully established in the 20th century.

We continued to find an astonishing array of fungi, such as Bloody and Common Brittlegills, Plums and Custard (with very yellow gills), Blusher, Sulphur Tuft and Birch Bracket. Both the Deceiver and the Amethyst Deceiver (fantastic purple gills) were present. These are common but very variable in appearance, hence their name. Another fungus found soon afterwards was the Coconut-scented Milkcap, which involved much sniffing. The rusts also featured during the day. Who would have thought there is a Coltsfoot Rust?

Ballerina or Pink Waxcap (Hygrocybe calyptriformis)

Ballerina or Pink Waxcap (Hygrocybe calyptriformis)

At lunch time the sun decided to become really hot. After a well-deserved break, we followed the path and came upon the home (I should say mansion) of Gareth Southgate close to the reservoir. We then crossed the Swinsty Embankment and turned right into the grassy fields. Here we came upon Slippery Jack and Ballerina Waxcaps. This latter fungus is a dusky pink colour and looks a little like a ballerina’s tutu. I myself was not convinced about this, but the idea is so pretty that it would be shameful to dispute it.

Although this fungus outing was sadly the last of our HDNS summer field trips for 2019, the day proved to be a perfect one. Gorgeous autumn weather, in a gorgeous autumn setting with an astonishing showcase of fungi. Thank you to Andy Woodall for leading, Joyce and Mike from the MYFG, Muff Upsall for organising and to the HDNS members for coming along and contributing to such a fascinating and uplifting day.

List of fungi identified

1 2 3 14

Supported by:
Change Font Size