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Harrogate and District Volunteering Oscars: HDNS Members win Awards

Friday 30 October 2015

The awards, organized by former Mayor  Councillor John Fox, and the Harrogate Advertiser Series, celebrate the work done by volunteers in our community.

Audrey Summersgill won the Lifetime Volunteer award, and was also highly commended in the Wildlife Volunteer section.
Simon Warwick won the award for Environment Volunteer.

Congratulations to both.

Spurn Point 27th October 2015

This is always an eagerly anticipated trip. A full minibus, driven as usual by Colin, set off in good time from Harrogate, leaving behind the mist and fog.

Pallas' Warbler Peter Thomson

Pallas’s Warbler Peter Thomson

The weather at Spurn was cloudy with light south, south easterly wind. The Spurn Bird Observatory Website reported that recent arrivals had been Pallas’s Warbler, Firecrest, Yellow-browed Warbler and an American Golden Plover remained on Kilnsea Wetlands. On our arrival, there was more good news, a Jack Snipe at Canal Scrape. So, there was everything to play for as we set off to look for one or all of the above. The Pallas’s and the Firecrest showed very well, standing out, as they do, against the numerous Goldcrest. The Jack Snipe was very obliging and was conveniently feeding next to a Common Snipe, giving good comparison views. The Yellow-browed Warbler at the Crown and Anchor car park was a bit more elusive, but showed briefly in the end.
The sea watching was very disappointing, there was just nothing moving, so we wasted very little time in getting back to the Warren area, which was alive with birds. Winter Thrushes and Starlings were gathering, the latter systematically clearing the orange Sea Buckthorn berries. The incoming tide gave rise to a wonderful aerial display of waders, Golden Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit, Knot, Dunlin, Curlew and Grey Plover.
The well documented breach in December 2013, caused by the biggest tidal surge for 60 years has left the tip of Spurn cut off at high tide. However, there is still plenty of habitat at the northern end, and our visit was wholly rewarding.
While we were in the Kilnsea Wetland Area watching the American Golden Plover snooze the afternoon away, we got fantastic views of at least two Short-eared Owls, three Little Egrets, five grazing Roe Deer and later, a perched Merlin. What a finale! 75 species in total and many of us with one or more ‘lifers’. Click HERE for birdlist.
Many thanks to Colin for leading a superb day out and my fellow passengers for providing the onboard entertainment, while we were stationary on the M62 for an hour in the dark.

Sue Coldwell

Ian Wallace Tree Planting

Excellent Turnout for Ian Wallace Commemorative Tree Planting on October 20th 2015

Ian Wallace 003 Ian Wallace

More than 25 people turned out to celebrate the life of Ian Wallace by witnessing the planting by members of Ian’s family of a wild service tree in Seven Bridges Valley, Studley Royal.
The tree was planted close to the spot where Ian discovered a naturally occurring wild service tree whilst conducting a plant survey for the National Trust.
Ian Wallace 004The tree was delivered and the preparatory work undertaken by members of the National Trust Estate Management Team. They also erected a substantial deer-proof metal guard around the tree on completion of planting.
Colin Slator and Valerie Holmes represented HDNS Council, of which Ian was once a member, whilst Colin also attended in his capacity as Chairman of High Batts Nature Reserve Committee. Ian was for many years Mosses and Liverworts Recorder for High Batts as well as Botanical Recorder for HDNS.
He was also heavily involved in the Bilton Conservation Group which was represented by Keith Wilkinson, and in the University of the Third Age, many of whose members were present.
A stone inscribed with a replica of Ian’s signature was laid in the bottom of the hole and the tree was then planted by Ian’s widow Mavis, his son Nigel and daughter Fiona.Ian Wallace 005
The assembled company was addressed by Mike Ridsdale of the National Trust, who paid tribute to Ian’s botanical work over many years on the Fountains Abbey/Studley Royal estate. Mavis then thanked all those who had generously contributed to make the tree planting possible and Mike and his team for their assistance and for allowing the tree to be planted on the National Trust estate. She finished by thanking everyone for turning out in such good numbers.
For those wishing to see the tree, it is on the right-hand side of the valley just past the second bridge over the Skell when approaching from the Studley Royal car park.

Ian Wallace 008 Ian Wallace 006 Ian Wallace 007

Account and photographs by Will Rich.

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Redcar, South Gare and Scaling Dam. 8th September 2015

We arrived on Redcar seafront and immediately felt at home as we spied the ‘Stray Café’ . A Bettys by the sea, wonderful! But first things first, sea watching. High pressure over the UK was dragging in low cloud and drizzle from the North Sea and reducing the visibility with it.

Redcar and South Gare

Sea Watching Richard Bion

An hour’s watch saw Teal and Common Scoter flying north in quite large numbers, along with small groups of waders, Gannets, one Red-throated Diver, and one or two Arctic Skuas. There were Sandwich and Common Terns on the beach along with Turnstones and Ringed Plovers. Most skuas, shearwaters and divers were further out to sea with light winds, unlikely to push them inshore.
Next, we went to South Gare, which has its own charm. Conditions were ideal for the high tide roost at the tip. We picked out Sanderling, Dunlin, Redshank, Ringed Plover, Curlew and Oystercatcher, but still very little was moving on the sea. The local fishermen were not having a very good day and commented that the water was dirty, presumably from a fuel spill. After lunch the River Tees tidal estuary was exposing estuarine mud as the tide ebbed away. There we found a Bar-tailed Godwit, a juvenile Knot and Whimbrel and more Redshanks, none showing any inclination to do anything but sleep. They must have had a long flight to get this far.

South Gare is an area of reclaimed land and breakwater on the southern side of the mouth of the River Tees.

South Gare

South Gare

It has a uniquely diverse habitat. The land is made of from thousands of tons of basic slag from blast furnaces. The high limestone content of the slag produces a base rich soil that is attractive to lime loving plants. The area consists of tidal mudflats, scrub, grassland, sand dunes, rocks, freshwater and salt pools. This is one for the botanists! The group quickly spread out to search the area. We found unusual species and some stunted versions of common plants. The plant list ( click HERE to view) was finalised by Muff Upsall and Sonia Starbuck. This vegetation can be very good for attracting migrants such as warblers and flycatchers. This day we saw a pair of Stonechats and small flocks of Linnets, Goldfinches and Starlings.
En route homeward, we called in at Scaling Dam on the A171. This is a shallow reservoir attracting both dabbling and diving ducks. We saw Tufted Duck, Mallard and Heron with Willow Warbler and another Stonechat on the moorland edge, bringing the total bird count to 53.
Many thanks to Colin for leading a greatly enjoyable trip with some really interesting places, birds and plants.

Sue Coldwell


The field trips for 2015-2016 are now on this website under Calendar , or click here. There is also a list (and booking forms for the bus trips) in the printed copy of the Autumn Newsletter. Or click HERE for the electronic copy. Colin Slator has done a sterling job arranging these for us and they are always worth attending. Reports of past excursions can be found on this website (under NEWS items).
Please note the usual precautions: Stout footwear and suitable outdoor clothing should always be worn. Unless otherwise stated a packed lunch is essential. Members take part entirely at their own risk and are responsible for their personal safety and the security of their belongings.
Colin gives the following message regarding this autumn’s outings:
Make sure you read the details about the outings especially regarding times and food! Of course the weather can’t be guaranteed, so some events may be altered slightly to work around any inclement precipitations!
Enquiries to Colin Slator: 0793535 2890

HDNS Newsletter Autumn 2015

Our Autumn newsletter is now published.  As usual it is an excellent read giving details of past and future events in our society. Well worth settling down on one of these rainy days to enjoy it.  All members will get a copy or to read it here follow the links – ‘About HDNS’ –>  ‘Reports and Publications’.  Or click this shortcut! 

This year we have included a list of the lecture evenings offered by High Batts  see page 71 in our newsletter.  For more details of the High Batts Society click here

Top Hill Low, Spurn and Hornsea, Tuesday 25th. August 2015.

Top Hill Low

Group in a hide Will Rich

We gathered as usual at Trinity Methodist Church and mounted a rather splendid nearly new minibus. Colin Slator, our leader and driver, welcomed us aboard. There was plenty of room for us as our party only numbered eight including Colin, unfortunately Sue Harrison and Jack and Muff Upsall were unable to attend.

Holly Blue Will Rich

Holly Blue Will Rich

  By the time we reached Top Hill Low Water Treatment Plant the weatherwas quite pleasant so as we walked to the first of the marsh hides we were able to enjoy plenty of insect activity. By the time we had visited all the hides we had recorded ten species of butterfly including Painted Lady, three species of bumblebee and numerous Common Darters one of which hitched a lift on Colin’s cap! On the HDNS visit to Top Hill Low in January 2011 we were obviously looking at a range of winter birds so the pools and scrapes were not of as much interest as at this time of year.

Common Sandpiper Peter Thompson

Common Sandpiper Peter Thompson

 A full morning in all the hides rewarded us with good views of three Green Sandpipers,
other wader species were scarce but brief views of a Kingfisher and Sedge Warbler added to our list which by then included Mallard, Shoveler, Shelduck, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Little Grebe and 85 Greylag Geese. Drama was provided by a female Marsh Harrier that put everything up several times.

 The “O” reservoir held 27 Great crested Grebes and the “D” reservoir had a good range of waterfowl including 37 Tufted Ducks and one Red-crested Pochard, one of our number said it “had a bill like a carrot”, a good description! Five species of Gull were also on the reservoir.

Pied Flycatcher

Pied Flycatcher Peter Thompson

A change of plan took us to Sammy’s Point at Spurn in pursuit of a Red- footed Falcon, no luck there but we did pick up on the tail end of a big movement of Pied Flycatchers along with Redstarts, Whinchat, Wheatear and several Willow Warblers. Seven Swifts hurried southwards down the point whilst the estuary side provided us with 70 Golden Plovers and the calls of Whimbrel. There was a Spoonbill on the ponds at Kilnsea Wetlands.

Finally on to Hornsea, first the sea front, good numbers of Little Gull over the sea and better still two birds on the beach with Black headed Gulls. Common Tern and unspecifiable “comic” terns passing all the time going south.

Little Gull

Little Gull Peter Thompson

By the time we visited The Mere the light was failing but our glorious leader was determined to locate the reported White-winged Black Tern, plenty more Little Gulls but sadly not the elusive tern. Another Marsh Harrier was our final bird of the day, so into town for Fish and Chips with a check list total of 72 species of birds.

Thank you to Colin for an excellent day out.

Mike Brown

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Juvenile cuckoo fostered by Meadow Pipit

There have been some very good views recently of a juvenile cuckoo being fed by the foster parent. At one point the meadow pipit perched on the cuckoo to feed it.  The  photos below are courtesy of Nidderdale Birders, taken near the carpark at Scar House.


Cuckoo juv. July 2015 Becky Huff


Cuckoo juv. July 2015 Margaret Hemsworth

Farnham GP Members’ Day Sunday 12th July 2015

A few photographs from the recent Members’ Day

Emperor Dragonfly  Mike Smithson

Emperor Dragonfly Mike Smithson

Four-Spot Chaser  Mike Smithson

Four-Spot Chaser  Mike Smithson


Red Kite  Mike Smithson

Red Kite Mike Smithson

Re-tailed Bumblebee  Malcolm Jones

Red-tailed Bumblebee Malcolm Jones


Oak Eggar Mike Smithson

Oak Eggar Mike Smithson

Southeast North York Moors Saturday 11th July 2015

IMG_0923It was a pleasant morning as the six naturalists met up at Quarry Moor car park and distributed themselves into three cars. First stop was the National Park Centre on Sutton Bank where we practised parking-fee avoidance thanks to Will’s inside knowledge. The usually rewarding birdfeeders were empty so we proceeded to a small wildflower meadow which was rich in Common Spotted Orchids; Twayblade and Yellow Rattle were also to be found and then Colin’s sharp eyes spied the single Bee Orchid. Ringlet butterflies fluttered among the plants, presumably scattering their eggs on the grass.
From this limestone grassland we crossed to the other side of the site to an area of typical heathland with Bilberry, Silver Birch and heather. Dan pointed out some of the plants we might otherwise have missed, such as Sheep’s Sorrel and Wavy Hair Grass; however there was again no sign of the elusive Turtledoves.We then proceeded to YWT’s Fen Bog nature reserve. This splendid site is part of the SSSI of Newtondale, and is also an SAC on account of its many special plant communities. Click HERE for website. (See http://www.ywt.org.uk/reserves/fen-bog-nature-reserve )

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary  Will Rich

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary Will Rich

Before we even entered the reserve, a Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary was spotted and successfully netted by Colin; it was a beautiful male and settled co-operatively in Colin’s jar so that the black outlines of the cells on the fringes of its underwing could be seen, confirming that it was not a ‘large’. 6-spot Burnet moths were also plentiful and an Orange Underwing was seen. As we walked towards the reserve entrance a Dark Green Fritillary fluttered around us – 2 of our target species already achieved!The valley bottom of Fen Bog is dominated by Purple Moor grass, Bog Myrtle and Common Cotton grass, with stands of open water populated by Bog Bean and Lesser Spearwort.

Round-leaved Sundew

Round-leaved Sundew Jack Upsall

The sloping sides of the valley are heather clad and we followed a reasonably dry peaty path, with muddy patches where we soon found Common Butterwort, Round Leaved Sundew, Twayblade, Heath Milkwort and Bog Asphodel. Cross-leaved Heath and Bell Heather gave a beautiful purple background against which we posed for a group photo.

There was an exciting flyover of Crossbills, presumably travelling between one stand of coniferous woodland and another – Colin counted 16. Both Sue and Will got glimpses of lizards – or were they the tail end of adders….?


Whinchat   Jack Upsall

Whinchat Jack Upsall

Keeled Skimmer

Keeled Skimmer Will Rich

We then ventured down the steeply sloping and heavily vegetated sides into the
valley bottom, where the tussocks and Bog Myrtle made for difficult going, especially for those with short legs!

The first small pool yielded a beautiful powder-blue Keeled Skimmer, the first of several. Dan wandered off botanizing and soon produced the Bottle Sedge and identified the scattering of Orchids as Heath Spotted. Sue then spotted a Whinchat which treated us to some good views.

We began to return along the valley and added Cranberry, the curious Marsh Arrowgrass and either Star- or Flea- sedge to our tally, then decided to try the northern corner of the valley bottom for the Large Heath, our only remaining target species. There was plenty of Common Cotton Grass, its food plant, and soon we encountered our first, passing close with a leisurely fluttering flight. Two more were seen as we exited the reserve.Our next stop was a brief visit to the Hole of Horcum, where our target species were ice creams and giant flies. Jack managed to spot the fly on top of a hogweed plant at the edge of the car park and a quick photo was snapped, from which Jim identified it as Tachina grossa

Tachina Grossa

Tachina grossa Will Rich

.The final destination was Ellerburn Bank, a tiny limestone grassland reserve nearby.Click HERE for website.  Unfortunately, the map was far from clear and there were no signs so that we took a track which led only to a barley field.


Adder ♀ Sue Coldwell

But on the way Dan, who was walking in the grass down the centre of the track, disturbed an Adder! Colin deftly netted it and we were all able to examine it closely. The diamond markings were pale, indicating a female, and it was apparently not full-grown. It attempted to strike the inside of the net and its orange-red eyes and pale mouth could be easily seen. We all took a few steps back as Colin released it from the net but it lay poised to strike, immobile, for several minutes before tasting the air with its tongue and finally slithering away.
Half the party then reluctantly set off to return home, whilst the remaining three embarked on a determined attempt to find the missing nature reserve. Not only were they successful, but also added a possible Fly Orchid to the specialist plants tally, uncovered 3 Slow-worms of various sizes, found a very large Common Lizard and saw 2 Marbled Whites. Altogether a splendid and varied species list for the day.

Muff Upsall

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