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Sharing observations

Peacock in garden

Barnsley Nats brings together people who share an interest in natural history and the wildlife of the Barnsley area. We have a programme of meetings and field visits throughout the year. However these are suspended due to the Corvid-19 restrictions so we are sharing observations and information here.
Email barnsleynats@gmail.com or post a comment or images.

Growing the mighty oak

The mighty oak is a symbol of strength, morale, resistance, and knowledge, supporting a complex ecosystem with many species.

This is the oak I started growing over 10 years ago. I just put one in a pot and it germinated. That was in 2010 and it should be over 15 foot now.

However it’s only three foot – I cultivated a kind of ‘bonsai’, but it produced acorns in 2018 and 2020.

Then I found out you can grow them in a bottle! 

Put the acorns in a bowl of water and discard those that float. Place an acorn on top of a bottle filled with water, and away you go. The one in the photo was placed on the bottle on 28th Oct 2020 and is 10cm tall. They build up a strong root system first then the top growth follows.

Here’s my new forest of oaks, grown from the acorns from 2018.

I have planted out the 32 acorns I got from 2020, so I will have a humongous forest to look after soon.

And some of these oaks have galls already.

Jill’s quiz – now with answers

Here is Jill’s traditional quiz. We normally have her quiz at our Barnsley Nats Christmas Social but this year it’s online!

The answers are hidden at first so you can still do the quiz and then look at the answers!

First of all ten butterflies or moths to identify …


Here are the answers to Jill’s butterfly and moth quiz …
[click on the image]


And a second section of the quiz on flowering plants – again identify them with their common name.


Here are the answers to Jill’s flowering plant quiz …
[click on the image]

Hope you enjoyed the quiz.
All the best for 2021.
Best wishes Jill and Doug.

Barn owl in December 2020

As you know due to the current lockdown restrictions and travel allowed only in our local area, we’ve all had to spend a lot more time in the Barnsley area. Not least Ron Marshall. ‘Any sunny, fine evening [of which there’s not been many] I have spent with this glorious Barn Owl.

Hope to see you in the New Year! Stay safe and well. Ron and Joyce. 

Recording wildlife sightings- some questions

Some questions for everyone: Do sightings need to be out of the ordinary to be worth recording? What makes sightings worth recording?

And how do you record what you see? Do you make a list on paper or on a computer? Do you send in your records? Perhaps you use online recording and do you recommend iNaturalist, iRecord, iSpot or get online another way?

Let’s hear what you think!

The cricket and the ladybird

I’ve got a cricket and a ladybird to share with you. I was washing the car one morning and noticed this insect just sitting there on the alloy wheel!

I think it’s a male Oak Bush Cricket- Meconema thalassinum. Males have two short rounded claspers as in the picture, whereas females have a long ovipositor at the end of their body. More

I think it’s there because I have about a dozen oak trees in my garden that might have attracted it, albeit they are miniatures. It looked as if it was still forming as it was so fresh and green. Such a beautiful creature!

I thought crickets sang (stridulate) with rubbing their legs together, this is not the case. It’s grasshoppers that do this. Apparently both the male and female cricket have a ridged vein at the base of their forewings that acts as a scraper. To sing they pull this ridge vein against the upper surface of the opposite wing, causing a vibration amplified by the thin membrane of the wing. More

We have all tried at times to locate crickets when we could hear them chirping in the grass. But their hearing is so acute that they can sense the vibrations of your feet so stop singing. A great defence from predators with their hearing.

And then, whilst cutting some shrubs back in my garden, I acquired this ladybird on my blue fleece. It hitched a ride into the house, where I supposed it was trying to get somewhere warm for winter.

I think it is a Two-spot Adalia bipunctata f. quadrimaculata red-on-black four spotted form. The black versions are more common in the north as this “melanism” helps them to absorb heat from the sun. These are much smaller than the harlequin, at about 5mm, and as you can see the underside is black and has black legs. Harlequins have reddish-brown legs, and orange abdomen.
Cheers Andy, keep safe and well. 🦗 🐞

2020 Glowworm site report

The glowworm season started earlier this year at our site near Thurgoland with the first glowworm being recorded glowing on the 30 May, after a few weeks of hot dry weather. On the following three visits, the weather was wet with low glowworm counts.

The counts and the weather started to improve towards the end of June with a count of 11 on midsummer day (they usually peak around the 21st ). I was now expecting numbers to drop, but they kept increasing with 19 on the 1st July dropping to 7 on the 8th July; it was heavy rain which they do not seem to like!

Ten days later 48 were counted in the better weather. The numbers kept up throughout July/August with a peak of 55 on the 13th September (with a possible high percentage of juveniles).

Numbers slowly fell for the next two visits to the end of September – at this stage I thought I would be counting until Christmas – but then at the start of October numbers reduced dramatically and the 2020 glowworm season finished on the 21st October.

The length of the season has been 144 days compared to 132 days in 2019. Why this is, is unclear at the moment. Records compiled by Doug Brown.

[Congratulations Doug on your persistence and stamina! Thanks to Pete Riley for the images]

AutumnWatch galls

AutumnWatch Galls. Looking back to AutumnWatch you may remember a sequence of images of galls including this impressive example …

They are the galls of the Yellow Flat-footed Fly (Agathomyia wankowiczii) on the Artist’s Bracket fungus (Ganoderma applanatum). The only recorded example in Barnsley, it was found by Geoff Jackson in 2016 on a felled Horse Chestnut tree in Woolley Bank woods.

The galls start as small warts, growing up to 1cm in height and caused by the fly depositing its eggs in the fungus. Inside each wart is the grub of the fly. Once the grub is fully grown it bores a hole into the top of the gall and falls to the ground where it buries itself into the soil before it pupates to turn into the adult fly. The holes in this example show that the larvae have left the galls. The fly needs this fungus to survive.

Another local gall seen on AutumnWatch was the Diplolepis mayri, another first for Barnsley. [See earlier post]

Catherine tells us that her article about the galls on Barnsley Main has now been published in the British Naturalist Association magazine. Congratulations Catherine!

An ID request from a beekeeper

Is anyone able to identify the larvae in these photos? We wonder if they are greater wax moths but they seem to have a black head and our understanding is that greater wax moths have a brown head.

This example was found attached to the outside of a polystyrene hive between the roof and the hive strap (holding the lid down).

There was a slight grove under the silk case which appeared to be where the larvae had chewed the polystyrene!

Thanks, Barnsley Beekeepers Association.

Bees’ Needs Champion Award

Congratulations to Barnsley Museums and Cannon Hall on their latest award: they have received a “Bees’ Needs Champion Award” for their work in creating a welcoming habitat for bees and insects.

The awards are run by Defra with a number of charities to recognise and celebrate examples of exemplary initiatives undertaken by local authorities, community groups, farmers and businesses to support pollinators. 32 winners were chosen in the parks and greenspaces category across England, and Cannon Hall was one. The council press release said they were ‘buzzing’ about it!

Major work has taken place across the parklands which included planting of a superb wildflower-seeded area below the ha-ha (just below the hall). Trevor, who alerted us to this news, saw lots of pollinators there this summer.

AutumnWatch with Gillian Burke at RSPB Old Moor

AutumnWatch from Old Moor this time -as well as other places around the UK- has made us watch the tv a bit more often than usual. The seals and badgers were getting most of the attention but it was good to hear Gillian mentioning “Barnsley” from time to time.

Maybe the general perception of this area still being covered in coal dust may gradually be replaced by visions of wetlands and reedbeds and by stories of nature reclaiming the area with bitterns, willow tits and tree sparrows being seen here as well as ducks and waders in abundance.

It was also good to see peregrine falcons and kingfishers using a Barnsley industrial site (Ardagh Glass) to breed and feed.

Brown Shrike


The Brown Shrike is a very rare visitor to our shores from Eastern Europe and most of the few records are on the east coast of Great Britain. So when one turned up in West Yorkshire (so near to Barnsley) this was a major bird watching event. This was a first ever record for West Yorkshire.

The bird was discovered on Sunday 18th October and stayed until Thursday 22nd October. In that time most Barnsley birdwatchers made the short journey to South Kirby to see the bird, many wishing that the bird could fly another couple of miles into the Barnsley recording area.
Keep safe and hope to see you all soon. Ron and Joyce

A visit to the dentist …

I had a wonderful visit to dentist last week as you do and I was amazed at what I saw. I was waiting to go inside and I noticed on the black handrail at the front there were some ladybirds and larvae, sunning themselves in warm sunshine.

The first one was a Harlequin -Harmonia axyiridis f.succinea with larva. This lady bird has a distinctive white spot on its head. The larva on right looks as though it has been feasting on aphids.

As I was coming out of the dentist, I noticed another Harlequin a bit further along the handrail.

This was a Harmonia axyridis f.spectabilis with larva as well.

I think the larva on the right is moving into the pupa stage.

For my hat trick of ladybirds, I have a 22 spot Psyllobora vigintduopunctata discovered in under growth at Barnsley Main Heritage site in the Timber Yard whilst digging out.

This is one of only three yellow ladybirds in the UK.

The other two are both 14 spot black on yellow and yellow on black.

I shall endeavour to find the other two!

Oh the joys of nature keeping us sane!
Cheers from Andy, keep safe and well. 👍🐞🌿🍄

Wildlife in Cleethorpes

We spent a very happy few days at the beginning of October in Cleethorpes. This is not a place most of us think about in terms of wildlife but it is surprisingly good. After all it is on the Humber Estuary opposite Spurn, and much of the southern end of the town’s coastline is designated as either a local or national nature reserve.

We particularly enjoyed watching the huge flocks of waders coming in on the early morning tides. We found the best view to be from the beach just south of the leisure centre, by the edge of the saltmarsh. We watched the birds gather and then come in off the sand bars as the tide receded. Mainly knot and oystercatcher but also dunlin, sanderling, bar tailed godwit, curlew, redshank and ringed plover.

One quite surprising view was of a small group of knot that seemed to have adapted completely to a busy shoreline. They happily continued feeding nearby until we were within just a few feet of them – when they would move away a short distance and continue feeding! If a runaway dog was chasing birds they would stand stock still until it went away and for the most part weren’t noticed. It felt a bit more like watching robins in the garden than knot.

We also saw a late colletes bee.

I find these bees very hard to identify, especially in the field, but it is possible it is the sea aster bee, Colletes halophilus.

This is highly specialised, feeding mainly on sea aster – but making do with hogweed in this photo as the sea aster had all gone to seed.

Finally, we thoroughly enjoyed identifying the saltmarsh and coastal specialist plants.

Here is sea sandwort,
Honckenya peploides.

And we generally had a grand time on the beach especially hanging out in the ‘pirates hut’! Catherine and Mark.

Fungi at Wortley, October 2020

Kent and Doug have recently enjoyed a visit to Wortley Hall parkland looking for fungi. Here are a few fungi they found: Clavulinopsis leuteo-alba, Clitocybe nebularis, Laccaria lacata, Stereum hirsutum with Hypnum cupressiforme, and Tricholoma terreum.

Have a look at their images and tell us their English names!

Doug and Jill’s Norfolk insects

Doug and Jill visited the Norfolk coast and spent some of the time identifying some insects:


Kent thought that the Brown Tailed Moth caterpillar could be a Yellow Tail so could perhaps anyone can confirm this?
Doug and Jill