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A welcome surprise from Oakenshaw…

The Dipper Cinclus cinclus  is a bird I have not recorded in our area.  However, I have thought the steam at Toad Holes beck although narrow and slightly overgrown may attract one.  I have however, received some good news from Freddie Downes at Oakenshaw who told me on the 7th of February 18 he got good views of Dipper Cinclus cinclus at the stream which is a continuation of Toad Holes Beck near to Rockhill Lane Oakenshaw.   The sad news is that the site is just out of our recording area and therefore the record cannot be counted….but It’s getting nearer!

This morning 10/2/18 also at Toad Holes Beck the elusive Water Rail which I suspect is over-wintering reappeared giving good views.

The over-wintering Water Rail ( photo take 19/12/2017)

The over-wintering Water Rail ( photo take 19/12/2017)

 

2017 Annual Wildlife Report…

An insight into Flora and Fauna
For 2017
At
Raw Nook nature reserve, Caldene fields
And
Toad Holes Beck
By
Martyn Priestley
Introduction

 I am the voluntary wildlife recorder for the Low Moor & Oakenshaw Conservation Group and this 2017 report reflexes my observations and ecological recordings for the named sites below.

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The sites our group monitors and conducts voluntary wildlife/general maintenance work at are:

  • Raw Nook nature reserve (Railway Terrace)  OS grid reference: SE 16495 28386. Low Moor and Oakenshaw Bradford West Yorkshire.  Lowland heath habitat with mixed woodland and wildflower meadow.
  • Caldene Fields. OS grid reference: SE 16495 28386. Low Moor and Oakenshaw Bradford West Yorkshire.  No public access, view from Raw Nook Nr.  Pasture with scattered Hawthorns and large pond.
  • Toad Holes Beck. OS grid reference: SE 16649 28695. Low Moor and Oakenshaw Bradford West Yorkshire.   Three ponds with pasture, some surrounded by Hawthorn scrub and various mature trees.

This 2017 insight into Flora and Fauna reflexes my observations and ecological recordings within the named sites.

 

Methodology

On a regular basis I walk the sites and record in a pocket book my natural history observations.

Any unfamiliar species are photographed and a description is taken. With this evidence I research the species or contacting various specialist groups like the Royal entomological society for a second opinion. I then transfer this data to my Mapmate biological recording system which allows me to analyse and monitor the population status of species within our recording areas.

This data not only assists me in giving a good accurate insight into the status of the flora and fauna at the sites but can have a significant role in setting conservation action priorities for the areas.

In addition I carry out survey work at the sites which may involve working with other wildlife groups.

Summary: Wildlife

Overall 2017 has shown a slight decline in some species within our recording area. Some butterflies for example have followed the national downward trend although good numbers of Red Admiral Vanessa alalanta migrated through the sites, mainly Caldene fields in the late autumn.

Whilst there was an increase in new moth species discovered like Aristotelia ericinella sadly some species like the Heart and Dart Agrotis exclamationis showed cause for concern as only 65 individuals trapped in 2017 compared to 135 in 2016.

Amphibians particularly the Common Frog Rana temporaria did not have a good breeding season although juveniles Smooth Newt Lissotriton vugaris were regularly noted suggesting the species did better.

Two new bird species were added to my list which now stands at 133 species recorded either breeding or migrating through the area. A total of 66 different species were recorded on visible migration using the urban migration route that passes through our area in spring and autumn.

In 2015 I have started to learn, collate data and survey a number of different insect families such as Hoverflies, Bees and Shieldbugs etc.

This challenging work has carried on during 2017 and a good number of common species have now been added to various insect lists for the sites.

However, an uncommon record relating to a Fly Diptera Order: Conops quadrifasciatus (below) was noteworthy.

I found the species at Raw Nook Nr on 14/8/17 and a pair were observed copulating at adjacent Caldene fields on 20/8/17.

The National Biodiversity Network’s atlas shows there are no records of Conops quadrifasciatus for the Bradford and Leeds area.

 

Summary: Management/maintenance at the sites

Our Group continues to meet monthly to carry out management/maintenance work at Raw Nook Nr and Toad Holes Beck

This year a lot of the group’s time was spent concentrating on the permanent removal of Silver Birch Betula pendula saplings, reducing Bramble Rubus fruticosus agg and clearing Rosebay Willowherb Chamerion angustifolium that have encroached into the heathland habitat at Raw Nook Nr.

Even in the early stages of this work there has been an increase in various insect species taking advantage as the work progresses like the Southern hawker Aeshna cyanea (below)

There has also been a welcome increase in general insect species as well as the Emperor Dragonfly Anax imperator

A pathway that flooded at Toad Holes Beck caused problems for members of the public and was addressed by forming a new water channel. (above)

There was also a number of litter picks conducted around the sites and on one occasion 5 large bags of rubbish was cleared.

In September our Group had some excellent news!

When Danny Jackson Countryside and Rights of Way Manager for Bradford Council put us in touch with Sarah Goldsmith Inspiring People Officer at Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.

Sarah is working on an Urban Engagement Project which is about engaging with individuals and groups to establish how to improve access to natural green spaces and educate communities about the benefits of the local natural world.

As a spin off from our involvement with YWT the Trust is now working alongside our group and their knowledge and advice on possible grants, site management and conservation issues will be an invaluable resource in increasing biodiversity as well as improving the local environment.

Species Reports 2017
BirdsA total of 78 species of birds were recorded during 2017, a slight increase on previous years.

This figure includes both nesting birds and observations of species using the urban migration route which runs through the sites basically from N/E through to S/W. Two new species Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis and Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola were observed using this route.

Three sightings of migrating Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes involving 4 birds were recorded in October following a national influx.

Breeding status of the more common species remained the same but both the Common and Lesser Whitethroats failed to breed again. Only 1 pair of Willow Warblers Phylloscopus trochilus breed at Raw Nook Nr which is down on previous years. Linnet Linaria cannabina bred again at Caldene Fields and breeding was confirmed of a pair of Goldcrest Regulus regulus at Toad holes beck.

A Water Rail Rallus aquaticus was seen on two occasions in December at Toad Holes Beck suggesting overwintering and two Gadwall Anas strepera were intermittent at the site also in December.

Sightings of Common buzzard Buteo buteo in the local area have again increased again during in 2017.

A female Ring-necked Parakeet Psittacula krameri was seen daily at Caldene Fields from the 27/11/17 to the 30/12/2017

MothsA total of 151 different species were recorded in 2017 bringing the overall total to 282 species. These records came mainly from Caldene Fields and to some degree Raw Nook Nr.

The latter site produced the best records of the year. Two Aristotelia ericinella were found in the heather at Raw Nook Nr on 29th July and then in August I found a single in the heather at the top end of Caldene Fields. Yorkshire Moths stated “ The species is not known within 25+ miles of Raw Nook Nr ”

Latter records at Raw Nook Nr have mainly related to day time flying species. However, this year I conducted two evening moth trapping sessions and a total of 39 new species were added to species list which now stands at 78.

ButterfliesThe decline in some Butterfly numbers is national so it was of no surprise that this year’s sightings were slightly below average in counts and species observed. Although the total for the sites is 20 species the average yearly total is 16.

This year it was 15 species however, it was the species maxium counts that were concerning.

At Raw Nook Nr for example there was only 1 record of Common blue Polommatus Icarus and Gatekeeper Pyronia tithonus were poor with only 8 recorded on 29/7/17.

Maxium counts of Ringlet were only slightly better with 44 in 2017 compared to 38 in 2016 whereas in 2015 139 were counted.

 

DragonfliesA total of 7 species were recorded this year which is an average count. The Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum was not recorded at Raw Nook Nr due to parts of the pond reverting back to meadow.

The Southern hawker Aeshna cyanea bred again at Caldene Fields and possibly at Raw Nook Nr. At least one pair of Brown Hawkers Aeshna grandis bred at Toad Holes beck and Raw Nook Nr. A newly hatched Emperor Dragonfly was observed at Raw Nook Nr on 23/7/2017 suggesting breeding at the site

BeesThis is my second year of recording Bees therefore the status of individual species cannot be accurately assessed.

In 2017, 7 different species were noted. The year started off well with a new species a Tawny mining Bee Andrena fulva feeding on Blackthorn at Toad Holes Beck 5/3/1.

A large colony of the Common Colletes Colletes succinctus was found within the large heather patch at Caldene fields on 28/7/2017.

InsectsRecording Insect (Orders) started in 2015 therefore the status of individual species cannot be accurately assessed.

Hoverflies: 16 (common) species were identified in 2017 within our recording area.

Ladybirds: 3 species were recorded in 2017 the 7 Spot Coccinella septempunctata, Orange Halyzia sedecimguttata and the Harlequin Harmonia axyridis which is now the most abundant species. The good news was at Toad Holes Beck when an Orange Ladybird Halyzia sedecimguttata a site first was found on 18/11/17

Shieldbugs: 5 common species were recorded. Green shieldbug Palomena prasina was observed mating at Raw Nook Nr 2/7/17

A number of confirmed insect records in 2017 have not as yet been allocated to their own Order and therefore not mentioned in this report.

However, one was noteworthy Conops quadrifasciatus Order: Diptera. Please see Summary Management/ maintenance above.

AmphibiansThere are three species that regularly breed in our area and all 3 were recorded in 2017.

Lower than average amounts of frog spawn was found at Raw Nook Nr and Toad Holes Beck and general counts of adults throughout the year were down on previous years

Low counts of Common Toad Bufo bufo were noted. Smooth Newt Lissotriton vulgaris bred at Caldene fields where 13 adults were noted on 9/8/17.

One of the reasons for the decline in amphibians this year could be the daily presence of at least one feeding Grey Heron in the area.

BatsThe common pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) was regularly recorded throughout the summer months at Caldene fields with a total of 4 (been the maxium count) on 6/7/2017.

Bat survey work is planned for the other two sites in 2018.

Plants, grasses and trees.In 2017 there was no plant/tree survey work carried out therefore no new species were added to any botanical lists.
FungiThis is the first year of recording fungi so I enlisted the help of a Fungi expert who has greatly assisted me in surveying Raw Nook NR on 13/10/2017.

A total of 23 species new species were recorded. Bringing the species list to 26.

This survey work is on-going with further work to be carried out in 2018/19.

 

Ring-necked Parakeet update…

The Ring-necked Parakeet at Caldene fields that first appeared on the 27/11/17 disappeared from the area around the time on the heavy snowfall just before Christmas 2017.  It was not seen over the Christmas period but reappeared on the 2/1/18.

I believe that it is extended it’s feeding range but intermittently coming back to the Caldene fields area as I saw it today feeding at the site the first time for a few days.

Website issues…and new fungi..

Having a few technical issues with the website at the moment…Finger crossed should be sorted out after Christmas holidays..

Anyway back to more important matters. I found a rather attractive group of fungi at the base of a tree at Toad Holes beck the other day.  As I am learning about fungi I first thought it was a Sulphur Tuft but after a bit of research it turned out to be a Velvet-Shank  flammulina velutipes which is a new species for our fungi list.

Group workday…

Today myself and other members of the Low Moor & Oakenshaw Conservation Group gathered at 10.00 for our monthly workday.  We have a water overflow problem at Toad Holes Beck as a drainage channel is blocked which causes one of the footpaths to become flooded.  Also a team was going to be picking litter from around the site.

However myself and young Freddie who I am working with on a ‘ Winter Wildfowl survey at TH Beck for his bronze D of E award met at 09.15.  At the middle pond Freddie found the pair of Gadwall which are intermittent at the site, but whilst we were watching them the Water Rail I found on the 12/12 appeared giving Freddie his first ever view of this secretive bird.

But 10.00 soon came round and it was time to get stuck into some work!

Work start to clear the channel

One of the litter teams….but sadly over 5 bags of litter was collected…

So we would respectfully ask all residents and visitors to the area not to drop their litter. Thank you.

 

An old friend from Norway returns…

Yesterday all the local ponds were frozen….This was an ideal time to check up on my old friend from Norway…the Black-headed gull which appeared at nearby Harold Park lake in the winter of last year.  And sure enough it was there waiting on the ice ready to take advantage when a member of the public fed the local ducks.

I submitted my sighting again to the Norway Gull ringing scheme which shows the bird return to Norway on the 13/7/2017 and has then returned to Low Moor to probably spend the winter on the easy pickings at Harold Park lake…

Gull colour ringing in Norway (8)
Last CR-Code Green ring with white code: J21Z LBM;RBGW(J21Z)
Ringing Centre Stavanger Museum (Norway) Ring number 6236522
Species Black-headed Gull  Larus ridibundus
DatePlaceCoordinatesDays    Distance 
22/4/2016Mosvatnet østsiden, Stavanger, Rogaland, Norway58°57’26″N 005°43’09″E —–Hatched—–
30/6/2016Mosvangen Camping, Mosvatnet, Stavanger, Rogaland, Norway58°57’10″N 005°42’53″E691
9/7/2016Breiavatnet, Stavanger, Rogaland, Norway58°58’07″N 005°44’02″E782
23/1/2017Harold Park Lake, Low53°45’22″N 001°46’29″W276739
25/1/2017Harold Park Lake,53°45’22″N 001°46’29″W278739
26/1/2017Harold Park Lake,53°45’22″N 001°46’29″W279739
13/7/2017Vassverktjønna, Åsen, Stavanger, Rogaland, Norway58°56’25″N 005°44’00″E4472
12/12/2017Harold Park Lake,53°45’22″N 001°46’29″W599739

Frozen ponds bring out a welcome guest…

It was -4c when I set off today to check on the local patch.  All but one pond at Toad Holes Beck were totally frozen.  The pond in question is the large pond which had a thin layer of ice and an open area near the Reedmace.  There was very little on the ponds but then on the middle small pond I got a glimpsed a flash of white deep in the reeds.  I waited for about 10 minutes then a very wary Water Rail came creeping out of the reeds.

A good sighting which is a possible annual winter visitor to the site.  However, the kind of sad thing is that it the Water Rail is a very secret bird and probably the reason it showed it’s self so much is it was searching for food in the harsh conditions

 

Species survey and a bit of a surprise…

Depending on your view but to me it was the first real bite of winter today.  So I thought I would do a quick bird species survey in our recording area, just to see if the weather had brought anything new in or if any species had temporarily left the area due to the cold weather.

Light snow at Raw Nook nr.  I recorded 31 species which for winter is a reasonable count.  I struggled to find any Dunnocks or LT Tits.  Not too concerned because I believe the Dunnock can be evasive and the LT Tits I know is OK as I saw a feeding flock a couple of days ago.  Sadly no Greenfinch which is a bit worrying.  The good news however, was a Woodcock seen twice at Toad Holes Beck which has probably came down from Odasal Woods and the Ring-necked Parakeet is seen daily ( present for 11 days) but can be mobile.

Ring-necked Parakeet.

 

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