Yorkshire Wildlife Trust magazine

This was my first week back at school. My outdoor area is still a building site and my garden area is looking overgrown again, so I’ll be needing to get out to tidy it all up.

I did get a nice surprise through the post. The Autumn edition of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust magazine came through the door.

I had sent in a few photos a while back and they said they’d use one, but not which. So opening up to the back I discovered my mouse photo. It was nice to see in the magazine.

As we have a family Wildlife Trust membership we get the children’s magazine. This season they covered stranded animals, animal poo, wood mice and Autumn. While Alice isn’t quite at reading point she enjoyed flicking through.

The main magazine has a good article on identifying different ducks and a feature on Autumn wildlife gardening I think I’ll enjoy reading. The magazine is a nice perk of the membership. I’m happy to of contributed in a small way.


Yorkshire Wildlife Trust-North Cave Wetlands

Today Amy was off for a day at the races, so I decided to take Alice for an adventure further afield. We’ve worked our way through a good area of our more pram accessible local bridleways and public footpaths. So we headed out to one of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust reserves at North Cave. The last time I went to the wetlands was just before Alice was born March/April time. It was an amazing time to visit for the birds as there were a lot of nesting birds including sea birds and migrants. The reserve is being developed further with large areas set to be turned into different habitats. This was just getting started when I last visited.

The site was originally a quarry that has since had areas dug, some filled with topsoil to make the islands and lakes.

Currently the main centre is a large lake. From the photo you can see the islands are providing a whole host of birds homes. The area has been managed to provide a mixture of shallow and deep lakes giving a wide range of birds suitable habitats.

The shallower lakes and reeds offering a number of waders homes.

The number of species of wildlife is immense. For me to go through all of what I saw would provide a months worth of blogs. I would have my head buried in field guides to a point where my partner would be pulling her hair out in desperation at losing her partner. So I’m just going to flag a few key species I either liked or was happy with the photographs I had taken.

I didn’t see as many birds as I could have. I didn’t think the birders would appreciate her giggling and running around the hides. The paths are designed with either tree lines or embankments to stop visitors disturbing the birds, particularly important in the breeding season. So as we gave the hides a miss I didn’t see as many birds as I could have. That said I still saw plenty.

Swans and lapwings. You have to love the lapwings crest, like a quiff gone wrong.

What I think is a pochard. I’m working on my knowledge of waders, so I don’t just have to say duck for everything vaguely similar.

What I think were house martins, from the tails and as they were stopping in the trees.

A few coots on the edge of the lake.

While I may not have seen as many birds as if we’d gone in the hides insect pickings were high. The shallow lakes and pools provide perfect habitats for dragonflies and damselflies.

The vast majority of the dragonflies I photographed are common darters. I did see a few different varieties I think I saw hawkers, but still building a knowledge of dragonflies.

I saw a number of damselflies in a number of different colours.

The variety of butterflies was astounding. Next year for the butterfly count I may need to visit North Cave. I also added one more species to this years sightings and saw flashes of what might have been different species.

The small tortoiseshell.

A mixture of whites. Butterfly Conservation have a good ID guide to distinguishing between the main cabbage whites.

Meadow brown butterfly.

A peacock.

A speckled wood

And my new sighting of the common blue. A rather stunning shade of blue particularly the furry thorax.

There was plenty to see low down as well with this rather striking cinnabar moth caterpillar.

The accessible areas are worth a visit, butt one of the amazing aspects of North Cave is that it still has massive areas being developed. New lakes are being excavated in two new zones.

While the areas don’t look like much now from photographs the areas will hopefully provide homes potentially for lots more species. Of high interest to me are the marsh harriers and stoats. By offering slightly different wetlands in each area the reserve is going to be an amazing space, providing for a massive variety of species. With 38.98 hectares it’s going to be a lovely large area. I hope a visitor centre is planned in to the new areas.

Alice wanted to go each bench as we went round, insisting on pulling her self up. On some she sat and watched the lakes, others she wanted to be straight off.

She quite enjoyed the hide at the end of the road as it had a large glass window for her to look out of, but I think the path back to the car was actually her favourite area. She had to be in the pram around the lakes perimeter, so she was happy to get out for a run. She did enjoy investigating the stones on the path, but did part with them before we left.

North Cave Wetlands are a superb testament to the wonderful work the Wildlife Trust do. Through there planning they have created an area that is supporting such an amazing wealth of life. Careful management of a disused quarry has created a site that on its own justifies my membership fees. Well worth a visit.


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International Dawn Chorus Day

Next Sunday (May 7th) is International Dawn Chorus Day (IDCD). This is a day designed to promote one of natures daily wonders. The story behind it is rather nice. Back in the 1980s Chris Baines (known for his excellent wildlife gardening guide) invited people to his birthday at 4AM to enjoy the dawn chorus. It has built over the years to be celebrated in places around the world. The wildlife trust have since taken responsibly for celebrating this little daily pleasure that often goes unnoticed by many.

With Alice only 11 months old I’m often up for the dawn chorus anyway so will probably end up hearing it whether I get up intentionally or not. Recently I’ve been trying to match the bird song to the correct bird. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve read is when you hear a bird try to spot it. Then gradually you’ll connect the sound and bird.
The BBC has a number of free resources around the dawn chorus and recognising bird song. The Natural History podcasts did an episode recording the dawn chorus.

BBC dawn chorus

Also from the BBC tweet of the day gives a short clip about each bird.

Tweet of the day

To explain to children the idea of the dawn chorus I’d recommended this little book.

The dawn chorus-Suzanne Barton

It tells the story of a young bird who wants to join in the dawn chorus, but can’t get up early enough. It introduces the concept of nocturnal animals and teaches a nice moral. 

I’ll have to see how Alice sleeps next Sunday otherwise may have to indulge in the dusk chorus instead. Being by the sea we have an unusual cacophonous dawn chorus. The delightful sound of the blackbird mixes with the discordant squeels of gulls, whereas the evening choir is often nicer.

My wild winter

The Wildlife Trust has put out a super little PDF on winter activities.

My Wild Winter

It has some good ideas on ways to stay wild during these chilly months.

Included are ideas on:

  • Making bird feeders.
  • Making a snow globe.
  • Discovering animal tracks.
  • Making a Winter bird bath.
  • making ice decorations.

Each are nice activities for a few hours on a weekend or Spring holiday to fight the boredom and still get outside.

There are some challenges to do in the snow such as making snow animals. Suggestions include making a snow hedgehog using sticks for spines. It would make a nice change from a snowman and won’t take anywhere near as long! It also lists wildlife and winter events to look out for.

The activities are largely family/young children orientated, but it’s free so you’re not going to lose anything (beyond a few minutes of time) by looking.


Wild about gardens

It is wild about gardens week. One of the key focusses this year is making gardens more bat friendly. One of the ways we can do this is making sure there are plenty of insect attracting flowers. As the bats main source of food this will help attract them to your garden and help their numbers.

Ways to help on the wildlife trust website.

I have made another contribution to the wildlife in my garden planting the free wild flower seeds I got from Kew’s flowers to the people. As I’m not sure I want all of the varieties across the garden I have planted them in a container, then can collect seeds of ones I want for next year.


I’ve also made a start on digging over what was previously designated as a vegetable patch. However it has become overgrown while the house was rented and is in need of clearing. It gets sun for part of the day and then shade as the day goes on, so I’m not going to remake it as a vegetable patch.

As it was:


I’ve dug out the weeds. And turned over the soil today.




I’m going to leave it a week to see if anything starts growing back, turn it again and then I’ve got some ox-eye daisies and poppies to plant into it. Amy requested daisies and I like poppies. I’ve got a number of insect attracting flowers doing well in the front garden, time to get more in the back.