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No golfers brings good news…

It was a quiet day at the vig-mig point today. However, on my walk to Raw Nook NR I passed Bradford south golf course which is closed at the moment due to the virus.

On the putting green feeding with 2 Pied Wagtails was a handsome male Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava

A record shot of the wagtail( sadly taken into the sunlight)

The bird fed on flies and worms for about 5 minutes on the pristine grass surface before moving off north.

The species is an uncommon passage migrant in our recording area.

Also what has been interesting during these last few days is a pair of Lesser black backed gulls at Caldene fields.

The gulls which are adults have been feeding in the fields which in it’s self is a bit unusual as they fly over on passage but rarely land.

However, the pair have been showing signs of courtship and I suspect (like in Lidget Green Bradford ) the birds could be about to nest on a factory roof in the local area.

Keep a lookout for the lovely Orange tip butterfly especially the males…there were 3 at CFs this morning.

Migrants picking up…

Today I did an hours Vis-mig ( visible migration ) at the watch point. After about 10 minutes a small party of 4 Swallows arrived moving N/E followed by a single later also to the N/E. Then on one of the walls was a smart male Wheatear probably making his way N.

A passage Willow Warbler was in song nearby. Sadly as yet no WW claiming territories in either Raw Nook NR or TH beck.

A Chiffchaff was observed nest building which is a welcome sign.

Shining the light on a new species…

Hands up..I’m not really a huge fan of spiders. However, I realise their importance within an environment and particularly in our own local ecosystem.

So I was certainly interested to record a new species of spider found in the moth light box on the 10/4 at Caldene fields

The Thick-jawed Orb Weaver Pachygnatha clercki (opposite) which is a common spider in the UK.

And thankfully it is well marked so fairly easy to identify.

Talking of the moth light box I had another surprise yesterday when I found a

rather large beetle….well very large.

A Black Sexton Beetle – Nicrophorus humator had somehow got into the box. I must admit I got a twig and let the beetle craw onto it before sending him/her on their way.

Regarding migrants 2 passage Willow Warblers were at Caldene fields on the 11/4. However, slightly worryingly I have not found any claiming territories at either Raw Nook NR or TH beck.

The beautiful Orange tip butterflies are showing off at the moment with 3 at TH Beck on the 11/3

Stuart Tordoff reported that he had seen a Swallow whilst walking on the Greenway but as yet I have not had a sighting of one. I will finish with a bizarre tale from David Rhodes at Oakenshaw who stated he had observed a Moorhen on a nest. As she got off the nest he saw that not only was she sat on eggs but….wait for it….a chicken bone!

Is the bottom in sight?…

I am often asked by local residents why the wildlife pond at Raw Nook NR is drying out. My answer is following the near drought conditions in 2017/18 the pond completely dried out for the first time ever and now probably the clay at the bottom is cracked thus the pond drains very quickly.

This has a massive negative impact on our valuable ecosystem. Amphibians, pond invertebrates, dragonfly nymphs etc simply perish as the pond drys out. Also birds abandon nests as the water subsides.

The pond was full in late winter and locals placed logs at the weir thinking water was escaping from there. Photo taken 22/3/20 showing how the water level has dropped.

photo 7/4 ..Just 16 days later a muddy puddle!
Whilst myself and Peter Gurney managed (at separate times) to save some frog spawn… like previous years a lot along with many pond creatures will perish!!

Now that’s all the negative out of the way…Because there maybe some good news for our wildlife pond!!. Some will be aware that there is to be a future industrial development which is going to take place. https://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/18361541.industrial-development-former-tourist-attraction-site-approved/.

In Bradford, the Council is looking to ensure each new development increases biodiversity by at least 10 per cent.

In the case of this application, the condition is that the developers contribute £4,000 to allow works to either Toad Holes Beck or Raw Nook. These works could include heathland management, wildflower planting or pond restoration.

So finger crossed that some of this money can be earmarked for our wildlife pond and it’s ecosystem which is finely balanced in the wider food chain within our urban nature reserve. In addition for all the people who walk to and simply gaze into the pond whilst recharging their batteries.

One last point: “ The application also includes a landscaping scheme which will add significantly to the character and appearance of the proposed development…..Here’s a good opportunity for our group and our partners at YWT to influence the developers to plant native species and enhance our local bio-diversity.

Sightings update…

Given the recent brief spell of southerly winds it was expected that one of two migrants may appear in our area.

On Saturday a male Blackcap sang briefly at Toad Holes beck. Then on Sunday 5/4 possibly the same bird moving S/W dropped in at Raw Nook NR. Sunday in fact was a good day for spring butterflies at the site.

There were 3 Comma , two of which were probably males as they were dueling on the ground next to a probable female, two Peacock and 2 Small Tortoiseshell.

The warmer evening on the 5/4 produced a nice selection of spring moths at Caldene fields including 6 Hebrew characters, 3 Common Quakers and a single Small Quaker.

Today 6/4 at Raw Nook NR a male Blackcap was in full song . I also decided to try my pheromone Lure to try and attract a male Emperor moth. Sadly I had no luck with the lure. It is probably a long shot as the moth whilst favoring heathland tends to prefer a slightly higher altitude including moorlands. But never say never I will try again and again during the spring.

Frog spawn rescue…

Sadly we are in the same position as last year!. The pond at Raw Nook NR which has a leak possibly in the clay at the bottom is quickly drying out.

The pond which was full following the recent heavy rain is drying out by the day.

Unfortunately this has a dramatic affect on our wildlife particularly nesting birds i.e Moorhens and our amphibians. A large mass of frog spawn has been laid and sadly…like last year it is stranded as the water shrinks.

Myself and Peter from YWT have been taking the spawn to the flooded woodland area in RN and when the water was higher I took 3 full bucket to nearby TH Beck.

A mass of frog spawn…stranded

Today I transported, with a small container (as the water is only about an inch deep) more spawn to the flooded area further inside RN.

With the amount of spawn at the site our rescue effort will not save all the spawn.

But at least some will have be saved and hopefully go on to breed next year.

Myself and YWT have raised the pond issue with the relevant body within the council and it was on their a gender for discussion.

However, the dreaded virus took hold as well as lock down and more important issues now have to be dealt with.

Sighting: A pair of Chiffchaffs were in early courtship as were a pair of Jay at RN. They may have been an influx of returning Meadow pipit moving north to their breeding grounds as a party of 15 flew overhead.

Dealburn Road aka Low Moor Banks…

You may recall that as well as keeping bio-logical records for Raw Nook NR, Caldene fields and TH Beck I also survey and record at the old Low Moor tip site off Dealburn Road opposite the Bradford council’s recycle plant on Dealburn Road BD12 0RG.

It’s really interesting as I used to watch and record gulls with other birders when it was an active tip site in the nineties, and my heart would skip a beat if I found ( what was then ) a rare gull like an Iceland or a Glaucous…

After the tip closed I lost interest in the site until 2012 but by then the site had been transformed by nature and my visits soon made me realise what massive ecological potential the area had to offer.

This photo illustrates my point 3 species of butterfly on a single Knapweed

I therefore started to survey, collate records and raise awareness of this south Bradford jewel all under the name of Dealburn Rd as there was no official name for the site.

However, now the site has a new name, which is Low Moor Banks… So I have amended all my records under the new site name.

Whilst myself and other suggested names for the site it was Peter Gurney, Community Nature Reserves Assistant from the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust that came up with the most suitable name of Low Moor Banks…

Chiffchaffs and busy bees…

There has been a small influx of Chiffchaffs into our area probably overnight with 1 at Caldene fields, 2 at Raw nook NR and 4 at Toad Holes Beck.

Queen Buff-tailed bumble bees were busy at RN with at least 5 observed going into nesting holes in the ground. I waited about 5 minutes for one to pop back up again…but no luck.

At least 3 Small Tortoiseshell were on the wing as was a Peacock sunbathing all at RN.

Peacock with a Chiffchaff calling in the back ground

Coronavirus…

Following government advice on social distancing all our groups work days have rightly been cancelled.

However, whilst fully supporting this advice I will be walking ( maximum once a day) in our area, alone, recording wildlife and updating this website unless government advice changes. So if I see you and I walk the other way..it’s not personal…ha

On a positive note I have noticed an influx of extra people using our area for walks…which is great and beneficial both for exercise and mental wellbeing. So keep walking and social distancing and I won’t be offended if you walk away from me…ha

So when out walking in our area (at a safe distance) listen for the wonderful spring call of the Chiffchaff…….Chiff…chaff…Chiff…chaff which has come all the way from southern Europe and north Africa to breed on OUR doorstep.

A total of 12 moths were in the light box this morning, 9 Common Quaker moths (excellent count) , 1 Common Plume and 2 Hebrew Characters moths

Common Quaker

Kingfisher lifts the spirits…

Whilst we are now living in unprecedented times with the coronavirus and self isolation my spirits were lifted on 21/3 at Toad Holes Beck with yet another spring sighting of a Kingfisher.

In fact there was an earlier (19/3) surprise at Caldene fields with another passage Stonchat resting on a wire fence. The first Chiffchaffs have arrived and both are calling with one at TH Beck and the other at Raw Nook NR. The pair of Grey Wagtails are still about which is good news for possible breeding.

Female Grey Wagtail

A further bit of positive news is the spring bulbs my grandchildren planted in the autumn at Raw Nook Nr are now bustling into life…

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