On the 18th February we held our annual winter bird survey and recorded 53 species of birds. No Curlew or Lapwings were seen this year but new for the winter bird survey were Little Owl, Mute Swan and Blackcap. The Blackcap is usually regarded as a summer visitor but, with recent warmer winters, our local birds are able to remain in the area along with others that have migrated southwards from the north.
The RSPB’s State of Nature Report, 2016, states 56% of UK species are in decline. We have found that the built-up areas of our villages their gardens, hedgerows, trees and flowers provide valuable habitats for these declining species. In fact, our ten years of annual bird recording have shown that we have a good variety of bird species in the village. This is in contrast to the surrounding area’s intensively farmed land. Whilst some landowners are sympathetic, modern farming practices provide little in the way of suitable habitat, food or shelter.
2017/18 Winter Bird Survey
Our Summer Bird Survey is on 17th June. Please join us. Check out the Upcoming Events box above.
During July, Bardsey School visited Elliker Field to identification wild flowers and to learn about flower pollination
Students from Bardsey School exploring pollination in Elliker Field
Bardsey School in Elliker Field
Now it’s late Spring the countryside is full of flowers and our efforts during previous seasons are showing results:
Ox Close grazing pasture
At the side of entrance track to the Ellikers
Looking down Elliker Field
Inspired by Ian Rotherham’s talk on Ancient Woodlands (see next post) we have been measuring some of the village’s oldest trees. These will go into a national database at www.ancient-tree-hunt.org.uk/project/hunt. The village hosts many large and ancient trees, mainly Oak and Ash.
This veteran Ash near the green bridge down at the river has a circumference of 4.63m at shoulder height
Measuring the circumference of a massive Oak along the boundary of Ox Close wood. It measured 4.27m.
At our AGM in May, the Trust commenced its 25 Years Anniversary. Professor Ian Rotherham gave a talk on Ancient Woodlands to which the village History Group were invited… our first combined event.
The AGM in May, 2017 started our 25 Year’s Anniversary.
During the afternoon before the AGM, members of the Trust and the History Group accompanied Ian through Ox Close wood where given an enlightening aspect of the history of the wood. The rainy conditions did not dampen anyone’s enthusiasm!
Looking at Ox Close Wood with a different perspective
During March, the bridleway down to the river was re-surfaced. The spoil that this work generated has been tipped to the sides of the bridleway and as a consequence has covered locally uncommon species of wild flowers. The Trust met up with the Footpath Officer (Groundwork) and the Parish Council to discuss this and other damage that was caused.
Spoil covering where Black Horehound grows which, locally, is very uncommon
Spoil at the side of the re-surfaced bridleway
During March, a group of Trust volunteers visited some Duke of Burgundy butterfly sites to do a bit of habitat maintenance. The food plants of this butterfly are Primroses and Cowslips. Scrub was cleared to allow light to penetrate to the ground to allow these plants, primroses in particular, to thrive.
Habitat management for the Duke of Burgundy butterfly
Following this work members, along with other conservationists, returned in May to see the fruits of their labours and were rewarded with sightings of twenty adult Duke of Burgundy butterflies. Other butterflies seen were five Dingy Skippers, a Small Copper and a Red Admiral.
Robert Parkes organised a site visit to see the Duke of Burgundy Butterfly
On Wednesday 13th July, the Trust is hosting a workshop for Flora Locale with the purpose of “Managing woodlands to improve biodiversity and sustainability”.
If you wish to attend, it is essential to book. For further information go to the Training section of www.floralocale.org alternatively email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet initially at Greenfields.
On Monday 18th May we surveyed the bats in Ox Close Wood. Our bat expert, who is a consultant ecologist, brought a number of bat detectors so that we could all have a go at listening to and deciphering the calls that we heard. Four bat species were identified during the evening; Daubenton’s, Noctule and Common and Soprano Pipistrelle. The river was a particularly rewarding area where nearly all the bats were seen and heard. A couple of the bat detectors could record calls and further species may be identified when these recordings are analysed over the next few days.
A few of the Trust members who attended the bat evening…. surrounded by Daubenton’s bats!
Two more bat evenings are planned for the 17th and 24th June when different areas of the parish will be surveyed. If you would like to come; meet at the church on Moor Lane at 9.30pm. or contact 01937 574140.
Over the weekend of the 3rd, 4th and 5th October the Trust hosted a small-mammal trapping session by the Yorkshire Mammal Group. As with last October’s weekend, the target species were Water Shrew and Harvest Mouse. 50 traps were laid during each evening of the 3rd and 4th October in grassy areas alongside East Keswick Beck upstream of the East Keswick Marsh. All the traps were checked on the mornings of 4th and 5th October and although neither of the target species was trapped the total number of mammals caught was surprisingly good.
Over the two nights, 29 Wood Mice, 18 Bank Voles, 5 Field Voles and 3 Common Shrews were caught. After being weighed and sexed, all animals were safely returned, unharmed, to their point of capture.
A Field Vole just before release
A mouse is safely returned home
To see the Harvest Mouse that was caught last year, please scan down to view the post from October 2013.