Meetings and field visits

Our next field visit is to the Monk Bretton Priory and Barnsley Main areas on Saturday March 9th, and our next indoor meeting is on Wednesday 20 March, a talk on Wildflower Meadows.

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. Monthly indoor meetings take place from October to March at Worsbrough Common Community Centre. Field visits take place on the first Saturday morning of each month and on Wednesday evenings replacing the indoor meetings in the summer. See our programme page for details. Details for each event are also provided on this page.

Annual General Meeting 2024

On Wednesday 24 January, it was our AGM: 7pm at Worsbrough Common Community Centre. Alongside the AGM was a review of our last year, illustrated by images of field visits in all weathers; followed by a film on developments in the Dearne Valley and at Carlton Marsh. Plus time to talk to each other and have a discussion.

The committee is losing some members and we would very much like to see some new faces. The Society can only continue if members support it!

Are you willing to lead a field visit?
Or keep a record of what we see?
Can you suggest a new site for a field visit?
Can you recommend a speaker?
Or suggest a topic for a talk or ID session?
Would you be willing to help plan the future programme of field visits
or talks and other indoor sessions?
Are you interested in taking on some administrative jobs?

Just let us know!

Here are the notes of the annual general meeting together with the report of the activities in the previous year: …


A major discussion at the AGM was on the financial implications of having to change our venue for indoor meetings.

We came to the conclusion that for the following year (2025) we would have to raise the personal subscription to £15 in order to pay for room hire and external speakers. We will start collecting 2025 subscriptions in October 2024.

We previously agreed to keep this year’s (2024) subscription at £10 and most members have already paid. If you haven’t paid and wish to stay a member, please pay your subscription as soon as you can.

If you attend some of our meetings just occasionally and do not wish to be a member, you may wish to make a contribution at the meetings you attend.

Barnsley Nats talks and other indoor meetings, October to March 2024

Our Barnsley Nats monthly indoor meetings are at 
Worsbrough Common Community Centre (Vera Mawby Centre)
Warren Quarry Lane, off Park Road (A6133), Barnsley. 

Post Code: S70 4ND
What Three Words: ///daring.medium.weds
There’s parking in the Centre Car park and on the Warren Quarry Lane roadside.

The Wednesday evening dates for our talks (at 7pm) are:
Wednesday 25 October 2023: A Carrion Crow in Close-Up by Steve Byers
Wednesday 22 November 2023: A Birdwatcher’s Year by Ron Marshall
Wednesday 21 February 2024: Ancient Woodland Inventory Review by AWIR Project leaders, Nick and David,
Wednesday 20 March 2024: Wildflower Meadows by Chris Tomson.

Our Christmas Social is on Wednesday 20 December 2023 and our AGM on Wednesday 24 January 2024.

Our full programme including field visits can be seen on our programme page, see tabs above or go to: barnsleynats.org.uk/programme/

Aspects of Biodiversity in Barnsley

Header for online Barnsley Biodiversity Action Plan: http://barnsleybiodiversity.org.uk/

‘Aspects of Biodiversity in Barnsley’ was a presentation given by Peter Roberts at the Barnsley Nats meeting at Barnsley Town Hall on Wednesday 25 January, following the AGM. His presentation included lots on the landscapes, habitats and wildlife found in Barnsley. He touched on the problems they face as well as on what we should do to conserve them. Peter also covered the importance of wildlife records and the role of the Barnsley Biological Record Centre.

His talk was based on the information in the Barnsley Biodiversity Action Plan. Have a look, it’s online at http://barnsleybiodiversity.org.uk/ Comments welcome!

The records that Barnsley naturalists and others provide are really helpful. Let’s carry on recording the wildlife of Barnsley.

Barnsley Nats Annual General Meeting 2023

Barnsley Nats Annual General meeting took place on Wednesday 25 January 2023 at Barnsley Town Hall. The previous agm was in 2019; the 2020 agm was cancelled because of the covid-19 pandemic restrictions. After the business meeting, there was a presentation on Aspects of Biodiversity in Barnsley

There were questions, comments and suggestions for the programme and publicising the society..

We re-elected the members of our committee. New committee members would be welcome; get in touch to find out more about it. We meet three times a year and have plenty to talk about!

The papers for the meeting are attached:
[Just click on the link to read online]

Report on the years 2020-23


2020-23 accounts

Barnsley: An Unnatural History

Five Barnsley Naturalists went along to the performance by Simon Armitage, the Poet Laureate, and his rock band Lyr. Entitled “Barnsley An Unnatural History”, it ‘celebrated Barnsley’s Eldon Street through the lens of its former Natural History Museum’. Yes the old Barnsley Nats museum!

We particularly enjoyed the piece in three parts, ‘A brief chronicle of birds in the Autumn and Winter months of 1886/7’, based on Thomas Lister’s weekly articles of bird sightings in Barnsley Chronicle. Thomas Lister was the President of Barnsley Naturalist Society in our society’s early days.

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.

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.

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. ? ?

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!