Our Biodiversity is in Danger

Lady's Slipper Orchid3 - Kilnsey Park.jpg

Lady Slipper Orchid grows wild in only one secret British Location

I have been invited to give a talk on the above subject to Nidderdale Climate and Environment Group at the Broadbelt Hall, Glasshouses on Monday, 11 July at 7:30pm. It would be great if you could come and support me and our biodiversity. Just a quick taster, The 2013 State of Nature report tells us that 60% of species have declined over the past 50 years, 35% have declined strongly. Find out why and let’s see what we can do about it. Visit the How Stean Blog for some background but it may not be live until tomorrow.

Fancy some Digging Around?

Nidderdale AONB is organising a Big Dig to examine the remains of the Lost Village of Lodge near Scar House Reservoir. Lodge is a former medieval grange farm for the Cistercian Abbey of Byland that was sold into private ownership following the dissolution of the monasteries in the mid 16th century. The settlement is recorded on Saxton’s map of 1577 as ‘Lodge howses’, and appears on Ordnance Survey maps from the mid-18th century onwards. It was continually occupied up to abandonment in the 1920. The Dig will take place between 12 and 23 July. For more details regarding the dig and how to sign up visit the website.

Email Problems

I don’t understand why but I am getting a number of rejected emails and would request that if you wanted to ensure receipt of my blog that you consider following me by clicking the follow button on the blog, inserting your email address and responding to the subsequent email asking for confirmation. Alternatively if you are sick of the blog then just email me asking for unsubscribe.

Your Sightings

Peacock - Andrew Dobby

Female Peacock – Andrew Dobby

Andrew Dobby tells me, “We had a visitor to our garden here in Marton Cum Grafton on Father’s Day, a beautiful female Peacock. She strutted around on next door’s roof calling loudly for at least ten minutes. We even tried imitating her call, god knows what the neighbours thought of that, but she looked at us and she answered every time. She then wandered down the wall towards us and ended up just a couple of yards away before moving off. A super experience.” As you probably know there has been a male peacock in Bilton for many years which has unremittingly and equally unsuccessfully tried to find a mate every spring and summer; Biltonians’ eardrums pay testimony to this. He’s the most photographed personality in Bilton. Peacock families also occur in Killinghall. The sentimental in me suggests we introduce your bird to Bilton’s, although my head tells me someone else can catch them, have you seen the spike on the back of the legs?

John Wade writes, “Had a wonderful experience at Staveley Reserve today. A very large otter was swimming in the lagoon very near to the common tern nests (with young) on the rafts. Two terns started to dive bomb it, in order to warn it off. It kept having to dive to keep away. Terns are magical to watch, the speed, grace and accuracy of their flying is wonderful.” Like John, I think terns are one of my favourite birds. Go to the Farnes if you haven’t been and visit the Long Nanny Site, a little tern site although not many pairs shown on Springwatch, very disappointing.

Blue Tit - David Uffindall

Blue Tit – David Uffindall

David Uffindall has sent some photos of three of his garden guests. Excellent shots of a blackbird, blue tit and grey squirrel. I have only included the blue tit in my blog.

Max Hamilton, Bilton, reports a second brood of blackbirds in his garden. They enjoy “chilling out” in the sunshine on Max’s patio.

Chris Beard, “Just before I went away for a few days last Monday, 20 June I was in my garden about 9am when I heard the very distinctive sound of birds overhead which I didn’t recognise (not that I am very knowledgeable on these matters). When the group of five birds were overhead I thought they looked like curlews (with the curved beak) but the sound was totally wrong. When I mentioned the sighting to a birder friend he thought it could have been whimbrels. He has an app with bird sounds and when he played the whimbrel call it was exactly right. Is it unusual for them to be over urban areas (flying east to west over HG2 7AZ)?” It’s unusual for whimbrel to be around at any time, especially outside the spring and autumn passage. Whimbrel, a smaller relative of the curlew, breed on the taiga, on mountainsides above the tree line and tundra. They can however be seen on passage in small groups between April and May and between July and August. It seems you were very lucky. For more information visit The Whimbrel Research and Satellite Tracking Lower Derwent Valley Project. They study migrating whimbrel. “Every year thousands of Whimbrels pass through England and Wales during April and early May as they move northwards from their wintering grounds in Africa. Some of these birds stay for a while to re-fuel at traditional staging areas before continuing on to the main breeding grounds in Iceland and Scandinavia. The Whimbrel staging area in the Lower Derwent Valley NNR, 15km south east of York, has been monitored annually since 1987. During the day the Whimbrels are scattered over damp pastures away from the reserve where they feed on earthworms and insects; however, at dusk the birds move to the nature reserve at Wheldrake Ings where they roost together at the edge of shallow pools.” Wheldrake could be the source of your sightings.

I have mentioned the dearth of butterflies and moths recently so I am pleased to report that Mike Barnham thinks otherwise. Mike is a well respected and knowledgeable lepidopterist. “We are in what I call the ‘June lull’ with the butterflies, but there will soon be much more on the wing. The Large Skipper and Small Heath are out and the Meadow Browns and Ringlets are just starting to hatch; Burnet larvae are pupating on the grass stems, and there are nests of Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock larvae on the nettles – so I think we will be OK!” I do hope Mike is right, I have certainly had an early ringlet in our garden.

At the beginning of the month, sorry for the delay, Tony Mawson told me, “Just to let you know, warm weather arrives at 5pm Saturday, along with two Painted Lady butterflies, only one late last year, never had them as early. Noted on your blog that a lady had no Goldfinches, she can have some of ours, we have a party of eight visit three or four times a day, they get through one large feeder every couple of days. Regarding raptor persecution, it’s not good news, when recently a man was caught setting illegal pole traps near Hawes, in an area being frequented by a Hen Harrier, he was arrested by North Yorkshire Police but only received a caution, how is that going to deter these idiots.”

Jackdaws - Roger Litton

Jackdaws – Roger Litton

Roger Litton writes, “We went to Fountains Abbey yesterday – at the Studley Royal end – with the intention of feeding the ducks before a short walk (brown bread only, of course, never white). In the event the ducks were greatly outnumbered by the black-headed gulls and there were nearly as many jackdaws as ducks waiting to be fed! These two sat there and asked to be photographed.”

Gillian Fernie tells me she has had starlings in her garden, “eating dried meal worms and fat balls, suet pellets. Very difficult to count, we counted 30/40 of them at one stage. They hung around for a couple of days then they were off. They loved bathing all squashed into a rather large bird bath.” Great news, my starlings have deserted me this year, sadly.

Early Purple Orchids - Roger Brownbridge

Early Purple Orchid – Richard Brownbridge

Roger Brownbridge made “our annual walk out of Grassington and up through the limestone area to the top of Grass Wood which had its usual high numbers of purple orchids, there is one spot in particular just across to the right from the stile into the wood where there are literally hundreds. On another matter, we have a pyracantha each side of our bedroom window and three times now in the last three to four weeks I have drawn back the curtains and found myself looking straight into the eyes of a Sparrowhawk only around a foot away, this is obviously his ambush location for the small birds which frequent our garden.” My apologies because of the delay in writing about Roger’s orchids, I suspect they may well be well past their best by now. Nevertheless Roger’s excellent photo almost makes up for missing them.


See website for full details of these events and to confirm no changes.


THIS SUNDAY, 3 JULY – Near North Stainley, Ripon 10:00 till 14:00. Check for details on the reserve web site http://www.highbatts.wordpress.com. All welcome. Details in last week’s blog.

Nidderdale Bird Club

Friday 8th July – RSPB Bempton and Flamborough