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Lesser Whitethroat and updates…

A male Lesser Whitethroat was in song at Toad Holes Beck this morning.  Interestingly a male can usually be found at the site in song on this date…The species use to breed but not any more but each year I hope a passage male will attract a female and well you know the rest…

A migrant count included:

Blackcap: 1 Caldene Fields, 2 Raw Nook Nr, 5 Toad Holes Beck.

Willow Warbler: 2 Raw Nook Nr.  No birds in at TH Beck as yet

Chiffchaff: 2 Raw Nook nr, 6 TH Beck

Swallow: 2 Caldene fields on 24/4/18

Following on from my sighting of a male Brimstone butterfly at TH Beck,  Clare of the Low Moor & Oakenshaw conservation group saw a further 2 around TH Beck on the 18/4…

Little Ringed Plover…

This morning I should have been doing a workday for our group but I completely forgot….nothing to do with age…

However, it’s strange how things work out as I did a visible migration watch at Caldene fields and found a Swallow moving N and Meadow Pipits continued moving back N with 41 recorded.  The big surprise was a calling Little Ringed Plover which moved W this is only my second ever record for the species.

Interestingly the last sighting was in the late seventies when a pair bred and laid eggs which were sadly predated.

 

The sun come out at last and a surprise at Raw nook Nr…

Yesterday I met up with Freddie from Oakenshaw who is keen to learn about general wildlife.  The theme was to find and learn about spring migrants both from descriptions and song as well trying to see 30 different species of birds…The first signs were excellent as the sun was shining but there was a northerly wind which is not conducive to assisting spring migrants.

We first walked into Toad Holes Beck and quickly heard and saw our first two Chiffchaffs of the spring.  At Caldene fields two Herring gulls have been feeding at the site for about the last week which is unusual but they were absent, but a Lapwing (possible male) was seen again.  Another Chiffchaff was in full song at Raw Nook Nr. and as we walked on the main path we had a bit of a surprise as we flushed a Woodcock! my first ever spring record for the site!  I just wonder if all the work we have been doing at the site has encourage a Woodcock to have a look at the site for possible breeding.

So we had seen our first spring migrant and the species list stood at 30.  However, on my back I added House Sparrow and Common Buzzard which drifted north over TH Beck which brought the total to a respectful 32 species seen or heard.

Project results in and analysed…

In October of last year I was asked if I would like to help set up a project for Freddie Downs so he could gain a bronze Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

The project I came up with was ‘Monitoring Wildfowl movements at Toad Holes Beck’.  The project ran from October 17 through to March 18 and would give an insight into a number of ecological question like do Coots and Moorhens leave the our ponds in winter ? and from a conservation point of view which of the three pond attracts the most species?

Methodology:  Freddie firstly set up a Excel spreadsheet.  We met weekly at about the same time and Freddie noted all wildfowl we had seen then inputted the data onto the spreadsheet, noting the date, time, weather and temperature.

Freddie gained his award and I have now analysed his data although the findings are not definitive ( due to only one years observations ) the project has gone very well and has partly answering some ecological and conservation questions.  Underlined are the main points of interest.

  • Middle pond is most attractive to wildfowl, followed by the bottom pond then the large top pond
  • Coot: From October up to early December 5-6 regularly recorded.  Then numbers dropped in mid-winter till March to around 2-3.  This suggests the birds that left were young birds hatched in 2017 and left their parents territories.  The adult birds that remained did not leave their territories even during the harsh winter weather
  • Mallard: Consistent low numbers were recorded apart from a record count of 10 on 16/12/17. Also recorded on this date were Gadwall and a Water Rail suggesting a movement of birds into our area.
  • Moorhen: In the late autumn early winter up to 8 were regularly recorded.  Then like the Coot numbers dropped slightly as young birds left their territories.  Feeding behaviour changed for the remaining birds as the winter progressed as more birds were observed feeding on land rather than in the ponds
  • A pair of Gadwall an uncommon duck in the Bradford area was recorded twice in October.
  • The only sighting of Goosander was on 22/10/2017 and were deemed as passage birds.
  • It was noted that after very heavy rain fewer ducks were recorded suggesting birds moved on as their food supply became harder to find due to raised water levels.
  • During the counting periods other birds associated with water were recorded. A Water Rail observed on 4 dates at the middle pond. An influx of Pink-footed geese were noted flying north on the 6th and 13th of January 2018 and a Grey Heron was regularly noted feeding at the middle and the bottom pond.

No early migrants but good new from Woodlands cricket club…

Yesterday I was out looking for any possible early migrants at the watchpoint at Caldene fields but with no luck. There was however, a trickle of (53) Meadow Pipits that moved N and 2 Grey Heron also N but were flying very high..like small dots in the sky!

I noted the first large display of Frog spawn today but the quantity seems down so far on previous years….My first queen Buff-tailed bumblebee sighting was at Caldene fields on the 20/3/18

Whilst at Toad Holes Beck I spoke to a friend of mine Stuart from the Woodland cricket club ( which is adjacent to THB ). He was busy planting some native trees and shrubs against the fence inside the cricket club which faces THB.  Stuart has also received a good number of Hazel, Rowan and Blackthorn etc from the Woodlands Trust which are also going to be planted within the boundary of the cricket ground.

Well done Stuart and the Woodlands cricket club.. So that will really enhance the local biodiversity! not only at the cricket club but at THB as well..

A swarm of BEES arrive at Raw Nook Nr…

On Friday 23/2 there was a woodland management workday at Raw Nook Nr involving Bradford council and BEES.

I firstly met Danny Jackson ( Bradford Council ) Countryside and Rights of Way manager and his team on site to discuss which trees we would like removing.  The reason a small number of trees were felled was to allow more light onto the ground which will significantly enhance the habitat for woodland plants and wildlife.

The team did an excellent job! and in addition we all stacked the logs and brushwood into piles which have created excellent nesting opportunities for Robins, Wren and Dunnocks.  But more importantly a large open area has now been established.  The intention now for this area is to put down some wildflower seeds and fingers crossed in summer there will be an array of butterflies, moths and other invertebrates all taking advantage of the new nectar rich habitat.

I will monitor the progress of this area and update.

Around 10.30 the BEES (Bradford Environmental Education Services) swarmed in…(sorry couldn’t resist that!) and were volunteering their services to help our groups ongoing work to clear the Silver Birch saplings which have encroached into the heathland.

After a briefing with Claire,Richard and Bill ( Of the Low Moor & Oakenshaw conservation group) the BEES set to work…and by did they work..

Large sways of ground was cleared, which will encourage new Heather Calluna Vulgaris to grow which in will turn will increase biodiversity of the area. Again the larger saplings were stacked together forming good potential nest sites for Robins and Thrushes.  

Silver birches cut down and waiting to be permanently removed with the use of a Mattock.

So the day finished around 15.30 and everyone had worked hard and there was a satisfying sense of environmental achievement in the air…And for me as well…I was really impressed with the BEES lunch…I went home for a sandwich….

But they came well prepared..and what a setting!

 

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.

 

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