Upcoming Events

Another New Butterfly

The Brown Argus Aricia agestis is another new butterfly that Trust members have found in Ox Close Wood and in fields in East Keswick. This is great news – showing that the management of our reserves is being rewarded with these successes (see also Silver-washed Fritillary below). The caterpillars’ foodplant is usually Common Rock Rose but more recently they have started to use various geraniums including Meadow Cranesbill of which there is plenty in the parish.

Brown Argus
Brown Argus, underside.

Recent Sightings

Dead Man’s Fingers
Fluted Bird’s Nest fungus

Dead men’s fingers seen in Collingham.  We may think of fungi as an autumn phenomenon but they are present all year round… we often see St. George’s mushroom on the bluebell walk in Ox Close.  Here are two often overlooked summer fungi.  On the left is Dead Man’s Fingers Xylaria polymorpha which grows on dead wood and causes spalting;- the decorative black lines found in some wood.  On the right is the Fluted Bird’s Nest Cyathus striatus which tends to grow on soil with wood chip.  The “eggs” at the bottom of the nest are spore packets.  The cups have evolved so that raindrops shoot the spore packets up to a metre away.  They trail a sticky filament that catches on vegetation, ready for ingestion by herbivores and dispersal to new sites. Neither is very showy, but they are interesting!

New Butterfly for Ox Close Wood

The Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia) has been seen for the first time by Trust members on 12th July ’19. Comparing the various photos that have been taken since then, there appear to be two males and a female. It’s likely that they have spread from colonies near Bramham. The butterfly recorder for VC64 advises that he has a record of one seen on two or three occasions last year – so this year’s sightings are not the first for the wood.

Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia), a male showing the sex brands on its forewings.

Seen recently in the area

Common Green Shield Bug

This is a Common Green Shield Bug, Palomena prasina, laying eggs on a walnut leaf.  It used to be uncommon in Yorkshire – restricted to southern England – but has moved northwards. Despite its name this species is less often seen than the Hawthorn Shield Bug. Shield bugs are not beetles but are from the true bug family of insects, related to cicadas, pond skaters, leaf hoppers and aphids.

Summer Bird Survey

A small group, six adults and two children, made the usual tour of the parish looking for as many bird species as could be identified; both by sight and call.
It has been very noticeable that there have been very few Swallows this year. They migrate to Britain over the Sahara from South Africa and travel in daylight up to 200 miles a day.
Being such a small bird they are sensitive to changes and can be affected badly by storms, very dry or very wet conditions and food availability. Their reduced numbers have been been noted throughout Europe.
On the other hand, there were a good number of Wrens calling all around the parish. It’s likely that the relatively mild winter has aided their survival rate.

A total of 42 species were identified (in the order they were seen or heard)….

  • House Sparrow
  • Robin
  • Wood Pigeon
  • Red Kite
  • Starling
  • Lapwing
  • Blackbird
  • House Martin
  • Rook
  • Dunnock
  • Blue Tit
  • Swift
  • Magpie
  • Chaffinch
  • Chiff Chaff
  • Yellow Hammer
  • Wren
  • Crow
  • Buzzard
  • Pheasant
  • Long-tailed Tit
  • Tree Sparrow
  • Jackdaw
  • Greater Spotted Woodpecker
  • Swallow
  • Skylark
  • Lesser Whitethroat
  • Pied Wagtail
  • Mallard
  • Moorhen
  • Curlew
  • Green Woodpecker
  • Goldcrest
  • Goldfinch
  • Black-headed Gull
  • Song Thrush
  • Reed Bunting
  • Jay
  • Great Tit
  • Blackcap
  • Greenfinch
  • Coal Tit

The next (Winter) bird survey will take place in early 2020, the date of which will be arranged this Autumn. Keep an eye on Forthcoming Events above and in the next Newsletter.

Strange Fruit

Rose briars are bearing strange fruit this time of year. It would seem that the lazy owner of the dog that resulted it this ought to be on his, or her, lead. It’s a shame that all dog owners can’t be responsible people. As with football hooligans; it’s the actions of a minority that gives the rest a bad name.

Ox Close is a nature reserve. Our activities and aims are for the enhancement of nature and the enjoyment of the public. Please respect our wishes…. dogs must be ona lead and clean up any mess.


Seed sowing

December 2nd: Children from the local communities learned how to sow wild flower seeds, some for their own gardens and some for the Methodist church wild flower garden project . The children collected seed heads from a variety of wild flowers and examined the differences between the seeds. Using our tried and tested method, which has been acquired by previous experience using seeds from plants within our Nature Reserves in East Keswick, they carefully sowed seeds from a selection of plants.

Corporate volunteer day

One of our members works for Network Rail and, on 26th October, he organised a “Corporate Event” in Ox Close with his colleagues. The day was a great success. The day started by filling and lighting one of the charcoal kilns and other activitied included moving logs and using the stock trailer to round up the cows from the Marsh to transfer them to the wood. The burn produced a respectable 41 bags of charcoal.

The kiln is nearly ready for lighting

The Dexters are moved to Ox Close for a few weeks.