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Members and local residents enjoying a break during the well attended reserve working party on Sunday 2nd March

Photo by John Goodman

The annual photographic competition was won this year by Hazel with her picture of a hedgehog.

 

 

The recent high winds at the beginning of December brought down one of the beech trees from our wood, blocking  Brantingham road. The road was cleared by the council the following morning and a local tree surgeon removed the remains from the wood at a cost of £100 to the society.

 

 

Tree Planting Project  Link to photographs

Winter 2013 to Spring 2014   Current Programme

 

Richard’s nature notes: November 2013 

Walking through Brantingham on the last day of October I was surprised and pleased to see a single Swallow fly swiftly past.  I wondered if there were still enough aerial insects to help fuel the next stage of the long flight to South Africa.  Swallows apparently put on little weight before starting their journey and instead find food on the way, although some build-up of fat occurs before crossing the Sahara.

The shape of an adult Swallow is unmistakeable, but the correct identification of a raptor can be a challenge, especially one in flight.  I was, however, confident in my identification of a Harris’s Hawk which was hunting over a local field for at least two days recently.  In flight the white patch on its tail told me it was something different.  Luckily it then settled in a tree and when viewed through binoculars the distinctive reddish-brown and dark brown wing colouration was clearly visible. This bird must have escaped from a falconer because it is not a native UK species.  Another notable local bird record is a report of a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in a wood close to the WARCS nature reserve. This small black and white woodpecker, only the size of a sparrow, is rarely seen in our area. It tends to feed in the tops of trees which also makes it difficult to spot.

The decline in the number of honey bees and bumblebees has been much in the news of late.  In a timely manner, an engaging book by a bumblebee enthusiast was published this year: ‘A Sting in the Tail’ by Dave Goulson, a UK university professor and founder the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. The author writes such a good story that it was selected for BBC Radio 4 book of the week in May. The book has also been short-listed for the Samuel Johnson prize for non-fiction.  (I write these nature notes before the winner is announced on November 4th).  Surely this is enough evidence to put the book on your Santa wish list.  Insects, especially bees, wasps and ants, show many well-known complex and intriguing behaviours.  However, I had never before heard of ‘hilltopping’ which describes a mate location behaviour involving males of certain insect species gathering at the tops of hills where they await the arrival of females.  Dave Goulson was inquisitive enough to investigate ‘hilltopping’ by British bumblebees after noting groups of male bees at the flowerless summit of a bleak Scottish hill.

One of the pleasures of natural history is observing and identifying animals and plants in the field. However, a survey for the presence and numbers a species can be demanding of time and manpower. More resource- efficient techniques are therefore sometimes needed.  One novel approach is the sampling of DNA from the environment (eDNA) to identify the presence of a particular species (similar to the method used in forensic police investigations).  This technique is currently being tested to see if it can detect Great Crested Newts in ponds, and whether it is has any benefits over the standard technique of using a high powered torch to spot newts in the water at night. I am pleased to report that a water sample taken this summer from a local pond known to contain Great Crested Newts gave a positive result.

 

 Copyright © Wolds and Riverbank Countryside Society 2004.   

 Last updated: March 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                             

             

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