Sharing observations III

It is good to know that many of you are finding lots to see in your gardens and nearby on your walks, with Redwing and Fieldfare on the move back and the first Sand Martin, Swallow and other summer visitors arriving.
Of course in addition there have been different bees and butterflies in our gardens, moths identified by our moth trappers, and a number of nesting birds. Thanks everyone for your emails and online news.
Here are some of these contributions …

From Doug: This last week’s bird highlight has been a Raven flying from the Worsbrough area over Silkstone Common. The two Buzzard have been seen on a daily basis. The moth numbers have been varied with two different species recorded from last week, Brindled Beauty and Twin Spot Quaker.
There does seem to be more activity on the bee-front this week which include Common Carder, Early, Buff Tailed and Red Tailed (all Bombus – bumblebees).  Jill has had a female Orange Tipped butterfly – the first for us this season. Doug.

Arthur and Pat saw a Brimstone fluttering over the River Deane near Old Mill Bridge and their first violet of the year (V riviniana).
      They have had a fair crop of stout brown and white fungi sprouting from their lawn in urban Barnsley; they have been identified as Saint George’s Mushroom albeit two weeks before St George’s Day, so rather early.

From Alan: I have been painting the garden shed today and the only company I’ve had has been a hoverfly that seemed to be guarding a clump of daffodils. It came over to see what I was doing occasionally, no doubt saying ‘you’ve missed a bit there mate’ before flying back to his patch.
Strangely no butterflies for such a fine warm day. I had a quick look at the tortoiseshell that I had put in an egg box in the shed; it had fallen on its side so I fear the worst for it.

From: Annefie: Good to spot the Little Owl in the hawthorn tree on our local walk.

From Catherine and Mark: Seeing much more of the wildlife in the garden and on our local patch is a wonderful silver lining of the lockdown.
We went for a walk near Stairfoot in the sun last weekend. We were amazed at the size of the seasonal pond in the nature reserve area which we visited about this time last year.

It filled most of the old quarry floor and there were a lot of water birds enjoying it including Gadwall, Little Grebe and two pairs of Tufted Duck!
It was a glorious spring walk in the sunshine and we saw our first bee fly of the season as well as a glorious view of a male Yellowhammer in full breeding plumage.
Exercise walks down the Dearne have been our greatest joy, watching the Kingfishers, Sand Martins and lots of raptors. We think a pair of buzzards seems to be roosting in the nearby woods and wondering if they might nest…..
An evening visit delivered four species of bat – the two Pipistrelles, Daubentons, and a Noctule.
The Hairy Footed Flower Bees are still active in the garden. The males patrol the flower borders and have proved to be very aggressive, chasing off any other insects they encounter including bumble bees several times larger! I have posted a photo on the website.
[See comment on Shared Observations II post]

From Stuart – locked down in Penistone … Lynn and I are continuing with our new routine and during our daily “exercise walks” continue to see beautiful things. On one walk we were laughing at the new lambs playing and chasing each other in some spring sunshine and in the same field Lapwings seeing off a Carrion Crow. We often see Brown Hare in one field too and the Curlew with their haunting calls which we simply love to hear (this is all within 20 mins walk of the town centre).
Some new things this week too on Wednesday spotted my first Brimstone butterfly of 2020 near the river Don, this was seen while I was watching both Brown Trout and Grayling feeding at the surface of the river. They were feeding on new emerged midges. On Thursday (9th April) I saw my first Swallow of the summer, always a very welcome sight.
Then, on the same day, when back at home in the garden we heard a crow high in the sky mobbing something. You may remember from my last note that our garden (postage stamp size!) is just across the road from the Tesco supermarket in Penistone and quite a few birds use the warm air rising off the large park and huge roof space for natural lift. It was a pair of buzzard last week; this time an even greater sight – the wonderful Red Kite. I have seen odd ones around Penistone in previous years but this was the first over the town centre for me.

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 we have suspended these in the Corvid-19 situation.

While we are all spending time around the house, it is a great opportunity to observe the wildlife we find in our gardens or spot whilst taking our exercise. You can share observations and other information: email barnsleynats@gmail.com or leave a comment. Attach an image if you have one.

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.

Trees in Winter

Saturday 14th March
On this field visit we will be led by Doug Brown; looking at the trees in Cawthorne Park.
With the recent restoration work in the park it is expected to still be muddy in places. Please dress for the weather
The meeting point will be the main car park at Cannon Hall; SE272079, post code S754AT. Meeting for our usual 10am start. This is a pay and display car park, £1 for two hours and £3 for all day. For anybody travelling by bus you need the 94 route from Barnsley. This is a limited service on Saturdays. Please check time with the service operators; it is a approximately one hour travel time and then a walk to the meeting point.