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Meetings and 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 normally have a programme of meetings and field visits throughout the year.

However indoor meetings are suspended due to the Covid-19 restrictions at Barnsley Town Hall.

Field visits started again in the summer of 2021 and are taking place on the first Saturday morning of each month.

We are sharing observations and information on this website. Post a comment or images or email barnsleynats@gmail.com

Alwyn Timms – our memories

Alwyn Timms, a long-standing member of Barnsley Naturalists, sadly died earlier this month.

Alwyn Timms was a keen observer of wildlife, a prolific recorder and a strong advocate of conservation. He was an all-round naturalist and a very patient and talented photographer.

Alwyn was always happy to share his knowledge. Over the years, Alwyn gave a number of very special presentations to Barnsley Nats — Alwyn’s talks were always well-attended! His talk about his own research on a local site of Small Blue butterflies was particularly impressive.

Even during the pandemic Alwyn contributed to our email and newsletters with fascinating online accounts full of observational insights and humour. These accounts include Alwyn being enthralled by House Martins swooping to collect mud, his exploits in rearing Orange-tip Butterfly caterpillars, the nightly visits of his Hedgehogs, and many more. You can revisit them here.

In the summer we intend to have a field visit walking in his footsteps, looking for Wall Brown butterflies on the patch where he recorded them.

Our thoughts are with his family and numerous friends.
He will be much missed.

Carlton Marsh Nature Reserve –12 March

On Saturday morning, 12 March, we visited Carlton Marsh Nature Reserve. A mix of reedbed, fen, scrapes, marsh, meadows and wet woodland makes Carlton Marsh a great place to visit, enjoy some birding, and spot signs of Spring!

Cliff Gorman who has been involved with Carlton Marsh over many years joined us and posted this account on the Barnsley Bird Sightings blog:

The Barnsley Naturalist Society visited this morning providing the following:
4 Buzzards in the air together, 5 singing Chiffchaffs, 1 singing Cetti’s warbler, 3 singing Reed Buntings, 1 yaffling Green Woodpecker, 1 Linnet, 1 Greenfinch, a male Grey Wagtail and 6 Common Gulls.

The first flowers of Cowslip were showing in the western Meadow along with Dogs Mercury and White Dead Nettle on the embankment.

4 Smooth Newts and a Froglet from last year were found under an old sleeper and a Lemon Slug was under a rock.

A fresh dead Wood Mouse was another interesting find.

It was really good to see old friends from this group again, I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did. Thank you for coming and being so enthusiastic.

Jill’s 2021 Christmas Quiz

Here’s Jill’s annual Barnsley Nats Christmas quiz! Now with answers!

Did you have a go at her festive offering in the days before Christmas​ or at Christmas itself​? Check the answer by hovering over each image. You can make them larger by clicking.
… … … … … … … …

Now the Quiz!

Which owl species? Answers given by clicking in order on the images

QUESTION 1. A bird of open country/farmland/coastal marshland and forest edges. Hunts over grassland

QUESTION 2. A bird on the northern edge of its range. Has a wide range of habitats but nests on farmland

QUESTION 3. A habitat adaptable species of deciduous and coniferous woodland, farmland, towns and city centres where there is parkland.

QUESTION 4. This bird is nocturnal, inhabits conifer and deciduous woods and forests. Breeds in conifer plantations, edges of large woodlands, thorny thickets and tall hedges, always where there is open country nearby, moorland and marshland.

QUESTION 5. This species hunts regularly in daylight (especially at dawn and dusk). Habitat is open country, moorland, coastal marshes, rough grassland and dunes.

QUESTION 6
Can you identify these birds in flight ?(a to c)

Can you identify these plant galls?
(Questions 7-10. Remember, match your answer to the image)

CAN YOU IDENTIFY THE FOLLOWING PLANTS ?
( Questions 11 to 14; in the second images there are two plants!)

CAN YOU MATCH THE CATERPILLAR TO THE BUTTERFLY
(Questions 15 -17)

QUESTION 18. How is this fungus related to a pirate ?

QUESTION 19. This staining on the wood is produced by Green Elf Cup, what dye does it produce ?

We hope you enjoyed Jill’s quiz. All the best for 2022.
Thanks of course to Jill – and to Ron and Doug for the photos.
Barnsley Nats

Stranglers at Wortley Hall

Saturday 2 October: Wortley Hall parkland and walled garden.

Doug and Barry led us on a visit last Saturday to Wortley Hall for fungi and veteran trees. A good visit made more exciting by Doug’s earlier discovery of a special rare fungus: one that parasitises and grows out of another!

The greyish parasite fungus (the Powdercap Strangler, Squamanta paradoxa) grows out of the much more common yellow host fungus (Earthy Powdercap)

YNU VC63 excursion

Saturday 23 July saw the Yorkshire Naturalists Union yearly meeting for south-west Yorkshire. We met near Monk Bretton Priory and walked downstream along the river Dearne. Unfortunately there was torrential rain but we made our way through the dense vegetation along one side of the river, had lunch sheltering under a viaduct, and after some botanising in a meadow made our way back along the other side.

Our first field visit in 2021

Midsummer in a Worsbrough meadow
Our first Nats evening nature walk in 2021 was on Wednesday 23 June to Worsbrough Country Park. We used the wider paths and more open areas to help with social distancing.

We enjoyed exploring the flowering plants in a meadow and seeing chimney sweeper moths in an area with their food plant pignut

Jill’s lenten quiz

QUESTION 1
What is the flower in the picture?
a) Ramsons
b) Snowdrop
c) Lily of the Valley

QUESTION 2
Can you identify this spring flower?

QUESTION 3
Can you identify this spring flower which can be found on hedge banks and woodland clearings?

QUESTION 4
Can you identify this tree from the picture of the male and female flowers?

QUESTION 5
Can you identify the tree from the male and female flowers?

QUESTION 6
Of which Elm are these buds from?

QUESTION 7
What sort of organism is this?
a) Plant Gall
b) Fungi
c) Lichen

QUESTION 8
Which plant was collected and dried in large quantities for the Great War?
a) Coltsfoot
b) Crocus
c) Sphagnum Moss

QUESTION 9
Which two British mammals turn white in winter?

QUESTION 10
Which Raptor generated a great deal of interest on the Uplands locally in 2020?

CAN YOU NAME THE BRITISH WILD FLOWER FROM THESE STATEMENTS
QUESTION 11
Shabby Bird

QUESTION 12
Amphibian Linen

QUESTION 13
‘They seek him here, they seek him there’

QUESTION 14
Prudish National Emblem

QUESTION 15
Is this insect a
a) wasp
b) hoverfly
c) solitary bee?

QUESTION 16
What sort of insect is this?
a) cockroach
b) soldier beetle
c) long horn beetle

QUESTION 17
Can you name this bird and what family does it belong to?

QUESTION 18
Can you identify this bird and can you name the plant which is believed it spreads?

QUESTION 19
Can you identify this secretive bird ?

QUESTION 20
Can you name this bird and what family does it belong to? Where in Barnsley town centre does it roost?

Answers available at Easter!

Images of birds: Thanks Ron Marshall

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.