Annual Photographic Competition

Wednesday 15th November 2017

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Richard’s Nature Notes:  April 2017


The attractive female tawny mining bees are back building their individual burrows in my lawn again.  The first two small, volcano-shaped piles of soil appeared under the willow tree on the morning of the 2nd April. By the 10th of April there were 22 burrows in the lawn and at least a further 13 in a flower bed near an apple tree.  They seem to select places that offer some shelter from the elements (or perhaps it is just where the soil is drier and quicker draining after heavy rain).  However, their excavations are still at risk from my lawnmower and ball-chasing dogs. It has become a challenge to avoid their burrows when cutting the grass, but the bees seem able to tolerate having their mini-volcanoes flattened by a small dog’s feet.


Unfortunately, water voles have not been seen this year in Brantingham beck between the church and the village. Although they could have succumbed to a passing mink (there was a reported sighting in the village last year), I also wonder if they did not like sharing this stretch of the beck with the brown rat that was regularly to be seen there last winter. More positive news is provided by sightings of water shrews at two locations in the beck. They are the largest shrew in Britain (body length roughly 3-4 inches, plus tail of about 2-3 inches), with black dense black fur above and pale underneath.  One of their main food items is the freshwater shrimp, which is abundant in Brantingham Beck.  They are an unusual mammal in that they have poisonous saliva which helps to stun their prey.


The excellent talk on spiders given to WARCS last October by Africa Gomez inspired me to take more interest in these eight-legged beasties. I have been rewarded by twice finding a woodlouse spider in my porch.  It is hairless, red and pale cream coloured, and has powerful forward-pointing red fangs that can penetrate the hard exoskeleton of a woodlouse (and human skin).  If your interest in spiders was stimulated by Africa’s talk, you might wish to note that ‘Britain’s Spiders: A Field Guide’ is due to be published in May this year.  This is a photographic guide that focusses on species that can be identified in the field by the naked eye, or by using a hand lens, and by noting the type of web formed.  One of the authors, Geoff Oxford, is an Honorary Fellow at the University of York.  


I recently borrowed a book entitled ‘Broomfleet 1900-2000’, by John Waudby and George Stones, from Brough library. The flora and fauna chapter mentions that in 1943, when there was concern about producing enough home-grown food during WWII, Howden Rural District Council appealed for school



children to catch and kill cabbage white butterflies.  Village children were paid a bounty for the number they were able to capture; some 4,668 were apparently caught by the children.  Two children each caught over 1,000.  It is not stated if the youngsters were paid to catch adult butterflies and/or caterpillars. 


In our more urban and safety-conscious age, the sight of a number of children hunting the fields and hedgerows for butterflies would seem very peculiar.  The greater freedom for children to roam the countryside in the past would have allowed for better first-hand experience and appreciation of nature. Today there is concern about the lack of young people joining natural history societies which threatens the ability of the UK to maintain a sufficient pool of species identification experts.  The return of the Insect Festival to York on Sunday 2nd July (10 am- 4 pm) provides an opportunity to spark the interest of young and old alike.  The festival takes place in the Yorkshire Museum Gardens, with most of the stands in the 14th century Hospitium.  There is always plenty to see, and there are activities for youngsters including the opportunity to search for invertebrates in the gardens with sweep nets and pooters.


Finally, a simple rhyme to help you remember that


Sedges have edges

Rushes are round

Grasses are hollow right down to the ground.


Wildflower Meadow Opening

Sunday 11th May 2014

A large following of members of the 'Wolds & Riverbank Countryside Society' turned out to witness the official opening of the society's new wildflower meadow adjacent to their wood on Brantingham Road. Following the cutting of the ribbon to open the meadow, members had brought along a selection of food and drinks for an afternoon picnic. Though the weather threatened heavy rain showers for the day none were forthcoming and all were able to enjoy a dry afternoon though a little on the cold and windy side.

Tree Planting Project  Link to photographs



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 Last updated: November  2017











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