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

Diplolepis mayri – a new gall in Barnsley

Annefie spotted an unusual gall when Peter, Annefie and Catherine were enjoying a walk on Barnsley Main Colliery Pit Stack in August.

It was on a dog rose bush and, at first glance, looked like Robin’s Pincushion (Diplolepis rosae). On closer inspection it is a related gall, being caused by a different member of the same family of gall wasps, Diplolepis mayri.

The gall first appears as a small red pimple, growing into green and/or red tiny spheres, 2-3mm in diameter, and covered with short sharp spines.

The short spines of the Diplolepis mayri contrast with the longer, branched hairs of the Diplolepis rosea – Robin’s Pincushion, distinguishing the two galls. In addition, the small galls of Diplolepis mayri cluster together to form a larger mass, the biggest so far found here being 60mm in diameter.

It is usually a species of southern England, and even quite rare there, so it is well out of its usual range. British Plant Gall Society members have provisionally confirmed the sighting – they have taken a sample for hatching which they expect will lead to absolute confirmation.

Catherine and Mark returned to the site and found the gall on several dog rose plants. There appear to be two main areas of galled plants, all confined within an area about 200m long and to a few yards either side of the public footpath.

There are several dried up, brown remains of some galls clearly showing the insect exit holes. These are mainly on the western edge; so the colony must have overwintered and now appears to be spreading slightly east this season.

Cutting a section across an old gall shows the vacated larval chambers, very similar to that formed by the gall wasp in Robin’s Pincushion, and demonstrating their close affinity.
Notes from Catherine.

Scilly Isles’ Stick Insects

On Colin and Linda’s visit to the Scilly Isles they too saw many birds but also spotted … stick insects!

Amazingly Linda says that there are four stick insect species on the Isles of Scilly and this species was from New Zealand originally, 150 years ago. They were accidentally brought in with plants for Tresco Abbey Gardens and have survived in the milder climate on the Scillies.

Ron’s Shetlands birding visit

This autumn we had arranged an eight-day holiday to the Shetland Isles hoping to see rare birds. For this to happen you need gale force winds and inclement weather, and we got both of these!

First gales from the west brought our first Yankee bird: Tennessee Warbler.

Tennessee Warbler
Tennessee Warbler

This was followed by two days of North Easterly gales, which brought two little gems from the East, Pallas Grasshopper Warbler and Lanceolated Warbler. These three birds were all new to me, and these were backed up with a full cast of semi rarities: Little Bunting, Lapland Bunting, Arctic Warbler and Olive Backed Pipit. As well as gales we had the wettest day on record! Here are images of all the birds:


The final indignation came from the weather with our return ferry from Lerwick to Aberdeen being delayed. It sails every night at 7 o’clock arriving in Aberdeen at 7 o’clock the next morning. We departed at 10-30pm arriving in Aberdeen 1-00pm in the afternoon. We were certainly rocked to sleep that night.

This delay cost us a new bird on our way home: Siberian Thrush in Fife. Ah well you can’t win them all. Keep safe while we meet up again. Ron and Joyce

Galls at Worsbrough

On September 1st , Pat and I found a gall at Worsbrough near Barnsley, which an I-spot user has since identified as the mite Aceria fraxinivora. We have never observed this gall previously, anywhere.

On the same occasion, we spotted a leaf on a Rosa shrub which was infected with either orange galls or a rust fungus. I would be interested for any comments on the cause of this. Arthur

‘Tails’ from my garden

I thought you all might be interested in some ‘tails’ from my garden recently.

A first tail – forget White-tailed Sea Eagle or even Rose-coloured Starling – here is a picture of a Starling with a ‘Leucistic’ white tail. It didn’t affect its performance in any way but it looked quite individualistic and a bit dapper, amongst its mates and juveniles.


A second tail: A big fluffy moggy came into my garden (all teeth and claws). It clobbered one of my adult Robins, which managed to escape the cat’s sneaky attack, albeit with the loss of its tail. Once again, this didn’t seem to affect its performance and it now continues to live a normal life, recovering from its near-death fright.

Third tails: A trio of juvenile Long-tailed Tits have spent the best part of a week in my garden (still present today). No adults in sight but they make a merry band, in their immature plumage of mainly brown and white and no pink, except their eyelids, as yet. With their ruffled plumage and reddened eyes, they look a bit like they are recovering from a heavy night at the pub.

Plucky little fellas, they were initially intimidated by the aggressive, noisy and squabbling Starlings on the fat ball feeder, not to mention the numerous House Sparrows flying about constantly feeding their young… They soon learnt to play to their strengths, as only they could (and perhaps Blue Tits can do) and found that they could feed quite happily by hanging upside down, on their backs, pecking calmly at the lowest fat ball, at the base of the feeder, unfazed by three or four noisy Starlings flapping wildly only inches above.

A great joy to see!  Co-existence but not exactly peaceful. Best Wishes, Alwyn

Recent sightings in July 2020

These images are from some of the highlights over the last two or three weeks.

My recent visits to local grassland sites have been rewarded with very pleasing numbers of grassland butterflies. In particular, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Ringlet, Small Skipper, Small Heath and the whites have been quite abundant. I almost felt like I’d been transported to the Victorian age!

Former Wentworth Railway Station Site
[This is now a Barnsley council brownfield site, to the west of Skiers Spring Wood.]
A total of 86 Meadow Brown. Good numbers of Ringlet, Gatekeeper, Large, Small and Green-veined Whites, and Small Skipper, along with several Six-spot Burnet Moth, Small Tortoiseshell, and numerous Meadow Grasshoppers.
A total of 189 butterflies.

Koyo Bearings Meadow and track on Dodworth Muckstack
A total of 63 Meadow Brown. Pleasing numbers of Ringlet, Gatekeeper, Small Heath, Small Skipper, Small and Green-veined White, Six-spot Burnet Moth, along with Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Shaded Broad Bar Moth and a few Meadow Grasshoppers.
A total of 216 butterflies.

Hugset Wood /Silkstone Golf Course boundary path
11 Comma, four White-letter Hairstreak and several Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Peacock, Small Skipper, Small Tortoiseshell, Small & Green-veined White, Ringlet and possible Essex Skipper.
A total of 49 butterflies

Plus I had my first ever Six-belted Clearwing Moth and more -worth a separate post!