Helping the Warblers…

Over the years I have noticed that ground nesting warblers like the Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs have been looking at territories in spring at Raw Nook LNR but few have actually bred.

One of the reasons for this is Bramble that has encroached into their favourite nesting areas within the site. So on Saturday it was our groups conservation morning and we all set about clearing the dense Bramble and cutting down some small saplings to let more light into the area. It was hard work! but worth it as we all hoped that when the males arrived back in spring they should find a more suitable nesting habitat.

Scarlet elf cup bonanza

At the moment Raw Nook LNR is full of the beautiful Scarlet Elf cup fungi. The fungus like damp habitats and with all the recent rain I think the species is having a bumper time!

Interestingly I visited nearby Toad Holes Beck and found only a few mainly by the large pond. The resident Tree Creeper was also observed in the same area.

Also at the site were the winter flock of feeding Siskin (around 40).

PLEASE NOTE: Toad Holes Beck is slightly flooded and the paths are slippy

Barn Owl sighting…

Following on from my sighting of a Barn Owl in our area on the 22/10/23. There has been another excellent sighting…well in fact a video of a Barn Owl (Thank you Tracey) this time in the Cleckheaton area.

I suspect this is the same bird that I sighted at East Bierely and a member of the public who reported a ‘ Whitish looking owl ‘ at Caldene fields Low Moor in November 23.

In winter a Barn owl will move further for it’s food than it will in the breeding season when food will be more plentiful.

The distance between the Cleckheaton site and Raw Nook LNR is approximately 4 miles as the crow(Owl) flies, which is well in the range of a winter feeding owl.

I remember a few years ago seeing a Common Buzzard in our area which was a site first! and now last year I found a juvenile been fed by an adult which was excellent news.

Fingers crossed the same happens with the Barn Owl and it breeds in the south Bradford area.

I more than welcome any further sightings in our area and the Spen Valley.

Nuthatch..es Arrive!

Possible male Nuthatch

There has been odd sightings of a Nuthatch feeding in our area since late last year.

However, there is now some excellent news in that in the first week of January 24 I had not one but two Nuthatches feeding in my garden at Low moor.

The pair stopped for a good 10 minutes feeding on peanuts and suet blocks before leaving together.

This is a garden first for me..and I have only had to wait 40+ years.

Looking at the two birds together I believe they maybe a pair as one bird shows a stronger terracotta colour on it’s flanks (male) whereas the females flanks are slightly lighter.

If this is the case fingers crossed they find a suitable nest site..IN OUR AREA!

Flooding and damage!

The heavy rain and high winds have caused some damage in our area.

A tree has fallen across the footpath leading into Toad Hole Beck when coming from Raw Nook NR.

So please take care on this footpath however, the good news is we have a conservation workday on Saturday so we will remove the tree making the site safe.

Toad holes Beck has flooded but the footpath is passable with care.

Also the footpath from Caldene fields is flooded so wellies are in order. Thankfully the water has not reached the main footpath which is fine.


Today at Toad Holes Beck I heard the call of a Nuthatch. This is the third report now of the rare species to our area. The first brief view was of a bird in my garden during August.

The bird must be feeding well and liking the habitat in our area lets hope like the recent arrival of the Tree Creeper that now breeds in Toad Holes Beck the Nuthatch finds a mate and well…let’s nature take it course!

Any sightings of our guest in our area please let me know, Thank you.

Fungi walk with the B.E.Es

A fungi walk was arranged with the Bradford Environmental Education Service for the 24th of October at Raw Nook NR and there was a common theme…IT WAS RAINING!

But we were not deterred and while I showed the group around the site it was down to John Gavaghan who is certainly more knowledgeable on fungi than I am.

We started in the meadow area with not that much found. However, I manage to show them the lovely Saffron milk cap which found previously by YWT by a small number of Scots Pines. John gave some valuable tips to the group about firstly identifying the species of trees/habitat and then asking the question does it match with the habitat of your species ?

One of the group found a great example of the very common The Candlesnuff fungus.

What is slightly unusual here is you never really get a good view of the black base of this fungi whereas with this find you do.

Despite the rain John identified more and more species like The Fiery Milkcap which lived up to it’s name!, Blushing Bracket, Hairy Curtain Crust, Snowy Waxcaps lots of Sulphur Tuft, Brown Birch Bolete, an emerging Blusher, Deceivers, Fly Agarics (they like birch woodland), Pipe Clubs, and Lilac Bonnet.

As we walked along the path I had a trick up my sleeve. Earlier in the month YWT had found a stained turquoise coloured twig of the Green Elf cup fungus and I kept it to show the BEEs group, sadly though we didn’t find the actual fruiting body.

Scarlet Caterpillarclub 

I knew an area by the pond which has the aptly named Ugly Milkcap. Whilst looking for this species I saw a small orange fungi sticking out of the ground. I had a good idea that it was the Scarlet Caterpillar club fungus but thankfully John confirmed the sighting.

We all managed to get photo’s and we discussed all about the species which is a parasitic fungus that grows on the larvae and pupae of moths.

By now had reached the pond but there was one more surprise a A sulphur knight was confirmed by the Oak tree.

We had not had any dinner we were soaked and reached the half away point of the reserve and sadly the decision was taken to call it a day.

However, we had found a respectable 29 different species (with a couple still not ID ) and one new species for the reserve Hairy Curtain Crust – Stereum hirsutum.

I would like to thank John for his ID skills and the rest of the group for making the walk, despite the weather a really enjoyable day.

Barn Owl alert!

About a week ago I received a sighting of a possible Barn Owl which flew low across Caldene fields. The observer stated it was an owl… and was light in colour.

Then yesterday at around 6pm I was driving up Cliff Hollins lane East Bierley when I saw a Barn Owl flying low to my left over some fields.

If anyone has any recent sightings of Barn Owls in the Low Moor, Oakenshaw and Birkenshaw would you please email me, Many thanks.

Today Sunday there was an arrival of thrushes and finches coming in from the N, with 1,481 Fieldfare. 1,329 Redwing, 103 Chaffinch and 7 Brambling either over the watchpoint or viewed from the WP.

Our annual Fungi Walk…

On Saturday the 14th of October the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust held our annual Fungi walk at Raw Nook NR Low Moor Bradford.

It was lead by fungi expert Kat Woolly with Jess, Sarah Goldsmith and Peter Gurney.

Thankfully the weather was fine however, as I walked through RN to meet Kat I didn’t see too many fungi and commented to Kat ‘ There may not be many fungi about ‘


As we had only been in the meadow a few minutes when an excited Kat found a Snowy Waxcap ( A site first). As always Kat explained to the group about it’s identification and status.

Snowy Waxcap

For those that know RN, within the meadow is our ‘Hidden hideaway’ which an dark area surrounded by Hazel and Willow shrubs and is excellent for fungi and we soon found our first fungi a White saddle Helvella crispa

I was keeping the notes and recorded the species found and it wasn’t long before another new species appeared ‘ Jelly Rot’

My list quickly got up to 15 as we moved to the meadow area near to the railway where there is small group of Scots Pines.

We all started to search this area when suddenly Jess let out a rather excited shout!

We all gathered round as she explained that she had found an Earpick Fungus ( Again another new species) which grows on conifer litter and conifer cones, so searching the pines proved successful.

The Earpick Fungus

We then walked towards the pond area for lunch finding many common fungi on the way.

What was interesting for the group was learning about the different smells some fungi have from Kat.

A great example of this was the Coconut Milkcap which as you have guessed smell exactly like a coconut! and is regular at the site.

So we had a short lunch by the pond as like always at Raw Nook when searching for fungi…time just goes!

We now headed to the Oak and meadow area at the top of the site to look for Waxcaps but sadly there were few about. However, Peter found a rather strange Puffball which turned out to be a Pestle Puffball Lycoperdon excipuliforme which again was a new species for the site.

As time was catching up we started to walk back but taking a different path.

Whilst more common species were recorded there was still excitement in the air.

As more new species were found like Fool’s Funnel and Penny bun.

Before the start of the walk our fungi species list was 109.

We recorded 43 species on the day of which 13 were new for the site As below.

  1. Jelly Rot Fungus- Phlebia tremellosa
  2. Snowy Waxcap Cuphopphyllus virgineus
  3. Earpick Fungus Auriscalpium vulgare
  4. White Fibrecap Inocybe geophylla
  5. Purple Jellydisc Ascocoryne sarcoides
  6. Sulpher Knight Tricholoma sulphureum
  7. Green Elfcup Chlorociboria aeruginascens 
  8. Scarletina Neoboletus luridiformis
  9. Penny bun Boletus edulis 
  10. Pestle Puffball Lycoperdon excipuliforme
  11. Brown Birch Bolete Leccinum scabrum
  12. Grisette Amanita vaginata
  13. Fools Funnel Clitocybe rivulosa 

However, there was one more excellent surprise for the group when hawk eye Sarah Goldsmith found a small greenish piece of wood.

This was identified by Jess as Green Elfcup Chlorociboria aeruginascens.

Then a further search and a bigger piece of wood was found showing the individual fruit bodies.

So all in all it was an excellent walk and for me 13 new species were found bringing our total to 122 different species of fungi recorded.

We would like to thank Kat, Jess, Peter and Sarah at Yorkshire Wildlife Trust for all their ID skills and organising this wonderful annual event.

Latest sightings…

Had PC problems so been off-line for a week or so. Thankfully all is well now.

Pink-footed Geese moving north

It’s October and that means migrating birds are passing over our area and the last week has been good. It started on the 2rd when a Peregrine flew S and a total of 16 Crossbills also moved S.

On the 9th there was an early arrival of Thrushes from the N with a total of 9,559 recorded either overhead or viewed from the watch point.

The Pink-footed geese started to arrive again from the N on the 10th with a final total of 1,989 recorded.

The weather before dawn on the 11th was 5c well down on the previous few days and this inspired Wood Pigeon to move down to the S with 1,281 observed.

On a local note I received some interesting news from Josie who lives in Oakenshaw. She stated that she has had a Nuthatch feeding in her garden! and even sent a photo of her special visitor. Our area in general does not have the habitat for Nuthatch however, I had a bird briefly in my garden in June at Low Moor which ‘MAY’ be the same bird as Josie’s. It would be lovely if the species takes hold in our area…Let’s hope he/she finds a mate in Spring.

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