Photo competition

Later this year, the exhibition ‘International Garden Photographer of the Year’, is due at Cannon Hall. Hopefully all open by late August when it arrives here!

The photo competition ‘Beautiful Barnsley’ is a good opportunity to celebrate the landscapes, green spaces and biodiversity of Barnsley, from the moors to the Dearne valley. The competition is now closed so we will now wait to see the results.

Shared observations II

Several people have sent in contributions at the end of week two of the ‘lock-down.

From Doug:  Whilst wending my way to recover my moth traps from the allotments near our house, I heard a Greater Spotted Woodpecker drumming, which started a train of thought about other woodpeckers that have been seen in Silkstone Common. 

I have not heard a Green Woodpecker’s yaffling call for a while and wondered if any others have seen or heard one in their area. All this underlines the importance of recording not just rare species but more common ones that may decline.

This weeks insect sightings have been low due to the colder weather and I have recorded the following moths: Small Quaker, Common Quaker, Clouded Drab and Hebrew Character. Highlight of the week my first record of a Red Mining Bee for 2020. Stay safe and well, Doug

From Gill’s garden in Dodworth: Here the Chiffchaff has been silent today and I feel that it is the herald for Summer for me. It is calling from Ratten Row, Dodworth and all the scrubby and so far undeveloped land (thank goodness) on Strafford Walk. It was a bit closer on Saturday but I still claimed it for my weekly BTO listing this last week – the first quarter!

From my greenhouse this afternoon a Song Thrush popped up from the scrub and then went into the thicket/ back hedge and that is another favourite bird of mine. Is it nesting?‑ I shall be watching!

We too have had up to a dozen or more Blue Tits this winter and now there is a threesome and bound to be some disappointment there. Also we often get pheasants and on Saturday the shorter-tailed cock pheasant had two ladies in tow and another that hadn’t had its tail damaged was a Johnny no mate! 

Stuart’s account of Lock-Down in Penistone: We have also got into a bit of routine this past week which includes morning coffee in the garden summer house. Now, this is nothing very grand and is smack bang in the centre of Penistone, but we do have bird feeders which I top up while my wife makes the tea and coffee. We have a good head of House Sparrows which are always entertaining as well as visits from Coal Tits, Blue Tits, Dunnock, Robin and Blackbird. What you might call the staple urban species.

We also have a good many Jackdaws (we had eight all at the same time today) one of which is “pied” with a mix of black and pure white feathers. We also get a regular pair of Wood Pigeons which after clearing out the seed tray soon start kissing and canoodling which today got even more serious and x-rated; they certainly know it is Spring! As well as the garden entertainment we also get the “fly-pasts” with regular Canada Geese and even a pair of Buzzards that maybe are using the thermals of Tesco`s roof to their advantage.

After our morning coffee we go out for our “one-exercise-a-day-walk” this takes us up past the Penistone Show Ground fields and for a nice circular walk. When the weather has been warm we have had good sightings of butterflies (Peacock and Tortoiseshell) as well bumblebees. The birds have also been interesting with Curlew, Lapwings and Skylark all within 15 to 20 minutes walk of the Tesco store in Penistone town centre. I am sure there will even more to see in the coming weeks (months!). Stuart

More on bees another time. And let’s have your observations of butterflies and moths (Jill spotted a Brimstone on 22 March), frog and toad spawn (Monica reported 7 frogs with spawn on 31 March), hedgehogs appearing, and birds nesting. Or anything else of note!

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.

Especially at this time,we are sharing observations and other information here on this website. To contribute: email barnsleynats@gmail.com or post a comment here -with an image if you have one. Look below for some sightings and observations shared …

Shared observations I

“Sitting in my summer house in the garden, I’m overjoyed to see butterflies fluttering about. I’ve seen a tortoise shell and a peacock. I’m watching a pair of great tits sussing out a nesting box on my neighbour’s silver birch. A big bee has been bumbling around too.  I’m so lucky to have my own little out door haven.  I had a new pond put in last year and have high hopes for lots of fun observing that too.” Judy.

“We saw a Red Admiral in the Dearne valley in February, plus a Comma on Monday and a Peacock on Tuesday this week.  Also had a micromoth (Garden Cosmet) in our bathroom over the weekend and a Nursery-Web Spider in back garden today.  Flowers include Lesser Celandine, Wood Anemone and Primrose.  Yes Spring has finally arrived!  We plan to take our daily quota of exercise around Monk Bretton, Burton Bank or the Dearne Valley whilst this good weather remains, and hope for further sightings in the days ahead.” Arthur + Pat. 

“The wildlife has been smashing in the lovely weather. Like you noticing all sorts of mating and nesting birds, a few peacock butterflies and so far seven species of bee in the garden.  Wow!  We heard the dawn chorus at around 5am today… just happened to wake up and it was fabulous.  So clear without the usual traffic hum in the background.  And then we went (much) later for our exercise walk down the Dearne. Really quiet again, just the birds, the bees and the odd tortoiseshell butterfly; and including two sightings of kingfisher.  Magic!  Mark and Catherine

“I too have been noticing a lot more in my garden and tweeting some of it. It’s really nice to be able to take in some distracting positive messages. I have long tailed tits nesting in my back garden. First time or just the first time I’ve noticed?” Pete

“With living in the town centre I always thought I missed out, a little, on nature. But now I know this is not true: I get to hear the dawn chorus every morning on my way into work.

Here are my sightings over the last week: 1 comma butterfly on a dandelion on my way home from work. While sat in the back garden (which is matchbox size); two peacock butterflies and a white tailed bumble bee. One heron in flight, heading from Morrisons towards the hospital. This I have spotted on two occasions.

Phil spotted a wren on the garden wall; its a long long time since I’ve had wrens in the garden. Out and about on short walks with the dog. Herb Robert, this grows readily where pavements join walls and this is in flower even some seed heads. Harts tongue ferns growing in the crevices of the old Holgate school wall. There is no sign of the trees on Shaw Lane showing new growth after the cut back.

Then there are the daily sighting of pigeons, magpies, crows, hedge sparrows, blue tits.” Michele and Phil

Doug’s message

Doug Brown, Barnsley Nats President, has sent this message to everyone:

This is the end of the first week of the lock-down, but I can still record the local bird and wildlife.

Last week when life was fairly free, I noticed fair numbers of Long Tailed Tits and Wrens on the TPT at Thurgoland pairing up. I think that the mild winter has boosted numbers of both at home; speaking of which we have had up to six Blue Tits, two Great Tit, two Nuthatch and up to thirty Goldfinch on the feeders at home. On the down side we have not had any Siskin or Redpoll and only the odd Greenfinch this winter.

The warmer weather this last week has encouraged butterflies to emerge out, such as Comma, Brimstone, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell in Silkstone Common.

Sunshine brought out the ‘aging moth trapper’ on a few nights this last week which resulted in the following species being recorded, Small Quaker, Common Quaker Hebrew Character and Early Moth.

Please take care, best wishes, Doug.

PS. If you would like to get in touch, we are looking forward to hearing about the wildlife you have seen and what you have observed.

The Ascent of Birds talk

John Reilly’s presentation on ‘The Ascent of Birds: how modern science is revealing their story’ is based on the latest scientific discoveries and enriched by personal observations.

When and where did the ancestors of modern birds evolve? What enabled them to survive the meteoric impact that wiped out the dinosaurs? How did these early birds spread across the globe and give rise to the 10,600-plus species we recognise today.

John Reilly’s talk sets out to answer these fundamental questions.

Open to all. Wednesday 16 October, 7pm, Barnsley Town Hall

Field visit – Old Park Wood

Warren Dike in Old Park Wood

Saturday 9 February in the morning – Geoff Jackson is leading a field visit to The Old Park Wood, part of Rockley Woods Local Wildlife Site.

We will be following Warren Dike looking at ferns, mosses and other plants -as well as any wildlife we see!

We are meeting at 10.00am, meeting near Old Park wood, off Rockley Lane just on the other (north/east) side of the M1. Grid reference: SE339017

Members’ presentations

This next Wednesday, 6th February, at 7pm at Barnsley Town Hall, we have another evening in which different members give short presentations on any natural history topic they choose.

It can be anything – with images on the screen or just saying a little about something seen or heard about. It’s also an opportunity to bring something along to identify or provoke discussion.

Please come along and join in. Let us know what you would like to tell us about / show us – or let it be a surprise!

All welcome of course – with or without something to show! 

We had a good turn out for the bat field visit. Our host, Rob Bell from the South Yorkshire Bat Group, was most informative. Giving us a insight to the bats roosting and breeding habits, as well as information on what their group does in monitoring and conservation.

First meetings of 2019

The first indoor meeting in 2019 is a talk by Ron Marshall on Chile. Come along to Barnsley Town Hall on Wednesday 9 January at 7 pm.

The first outdoor meeting in 2019 on Saturday 12 January is a field visit to RSPB Old Moor, meeting in the Old Moor car park at 10.00 am. We are joining up with the local birdwatchers group led by Colin and Linda Graham.

The full programme will be posted on the programme page soon.