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Our winter wonderland

There were a reasonable count of wildfowl in our area today. At the large pond there were 4 Mallard, 2 Coot and 1 Moorhen. At the middle pond 2 Mallard, 2 Coot and 2 Moorhen were observed and at the fishing pond 8 Moorhen were counted feeding by the stream.

Whilst not much else was about but the snow was uplifting and gave a nice winter glow to these strange time we live in…

The Norway connection

Today I walked up to Harold Park lake. Apart from my exercise the main reason was I knew the lake would be frozen thus forcing gulls to stand on the ice!

Therefore if any migrant gulls that had been ringed were about I would have a good chance of photographing the ring thus providing information about origin of the bird.

After a few slices of whole meal bread… It wasn’t long before a ringed Black-headed gull appeared with a white ring J7RR on it’s right leg and a small silver ring on it’s left leg.

It was then a walk home to do my research about the history of our winter visitor to good old Low Moor.

The gull was first ringed in Oslo Norway on the 18/4/2020 as an adult.

It was then recorded in Mistley in Essex on 2/8/2020 and stayed there until 12/12/20. And is now probably spending the winter here in Low Moor.

This is the second BHG that I have recorded at the site with a Norwegian connection. I have submitted my sighting to Colour Ringing website for it’s continuity.

The Elf’s are appearing…

If you are out for a Christmas walk at Raw Nook NR keep a lockout for the lovely Scarlet Elf cup fungi as they are just starting to appear.

They can be seen just off the main path on the floor in amongst the leaf litter and fallen branches.

In European folklore, it was said that wood elves drank morning dew from the Scarlet Elf cups. Hmm…Now a Wood Elf at Raw Nook NR that would be something..ha

Woodland management with YWT…

Yesterday I met up with Peter, Sarah and the rest of their team from the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. In a way it was a bitter sweet day in that Peter had noticed that one of the Wych Elm at Raw Nook NR had Dutch elm disease which is caused by the fungus Ophiostoma novo-ulmi which is spread by the elm bark beetle. Sadly because the disease kills the tree it had to be taken down.

So the 32 year old Wych Elm fell to the ground. However, the wood was cut up but not wasted as Sarah and Gillian got their creative heads on making various things.

The dark ring is the fungal bodies clogging up the
tree’s transport tissues, which will eventually kill the tree

The remaining wood has been left to nature and the invertebrates. Peter had also brought two new Elms to plant on the reserve another Wych and a Field Elm Ulmus minor which we do not have on site. And yes ! I will be recorded that as a new species for the reserve..ha

Replanting one of the new Elm trees

So once the Elm tree was sorted out it was on to other jobs. Which included taking a couple of Silver birch tree out to let more light onto the woodland floor.

The cut down trees have been left where they fell which will provide valuable habitats for various wildlife and insects.

Tackling the invasive Bramble

We also took out a good number of young Silver Birch sapling from the heathland area to help protect from encroachment.

Whilst Bramble is excellent for wildlife in can soon get out of hand especially in the heathland. So there was an excellent job in methodically cutting back the Bramble.

So all in all it was a very good day made even better for us all when in the afternoon a flock of 102 calling Pink-footed geese came in from the E and moved low to the S/W.

A big thank you to Sarah, Peter and volunteers from the YWT for all your hard work and time.

The Firethorn shrub…

Every wildlife garden should have one!. What I hear you ask? The beautiful Firethorn/Pyracantha shrub. Why?

Well there’s the lovely white flowers in spring that attract many bees and hoverfly species and then bright red berries feed hungry birds in the winter time. Oh! and you may get a surprise visitor like I did in my garden on Saturday…

A Blackcap which maybe over-wintering

Three at once…

Yesterday the skies were sunny and bright for me metaphorically speaking. After my shortened vis-mig watch as autumn migration is almost over I decided to go to Raw Nook Nr & TH Beck as I was on a mission to find a particular new moth leaf mine Ectoedemia intimella . The larvae mine the leaves of sallow (Salix), and Goat Willow

I thought I would have a look at the Goat Willows at TH Beck first.

After much searching I had drawn a blank.

However, I veered off one of the path into some fairly dense woodland and to my surprise I found a sapling Horse Chestnut tree. I scratched my head and thought I’m sure I have not recorded the species before in our area! I was right the sapling has been hiding in it’s dense surroundings!

So a new species and it was off to Raw Nook NR to find my moth. And yes I found the leaf mine Ectoedemia intimella so another new species. Incidentally Yorkshie Moths describe it’s status as: Local Status: Uncommon and local resident.

Stigmella salicis larvae

But then on a nearby Sallow Sp I found a different looking leaf mine.

And brilliant it turned out to be a leaf mine of Stigmella salicis…And my third new species of the day.

Because the leaf mines contain larvae the moth should emerge in spring. This proves the species are breeding in our area which is excellent news.

A bit of a rarity…

Vis-mig today was OK with the highlight been two large flocks of continental Starling that came in from the N/E. One party was estimated to contain 450 birds and all flying fairly low…an excellent autumn sight!

Recently I have been searching Aspen trees in Raw Nook Nr to try to find the moth leaf mine of Ectoedemia argyropeza with no luck. So I tried again today looking at Aspen leaves at the vis-mig point at Caldene fields.

There were none at the first two trees but further on to my excitement I didn’t find one leaf containing the moth larvae but 15!

If you look at the base of the yellow leaf you can see the dark triangle and the green above. The larvae are active mainly at night and retreat into the petiole (stalk) during the day.

The great news is that the moth is a bit of a rarity! National Status: Local. Local Status: Rare and local resident.

and according to Yorkshire moth the nearest site to ours is 20k away! So really pleased! That brings my moth species list for our recording area to 366.

Pond flashes Blue…

Yesterday there was little vis-mig due to the blanket fog. The little bit I did produced 3 skeins of Pink-footed geese moving N/W I could hear them but couldn’t see them in the fog.

I then walked to Raw Nook NR where the recent rain has brought our pond back to life. And the first bird I saw was a lovely Kingfisher feeding!.

Today I walked to TH Beck and heard the Kingfisher calling at the small pond, so keep your eyes peeled for that lovely flash of blue!

On my way back I couldn’t help but noticed the aptly named Jelly Ear Fungus – Auricularia auricula-judae on a dead piece of Elder.

Interestingly you can see the dead black Jelly Ear fungus below with a burst of new growth above.

Four Bullfinches were showing well in a nearby Hawthorn tree.

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