We have now done all three roost visits planned for the tunnel and the results have been written up and passed to Elspeth Ingelby at NYMNP. We found both Myotis and Common pipistrelle bats using the tunnel on the main three visits and a final check of the tunnel found a Brown long-eared bat roosting on the ceiling. The data from the spring/summer visits seems to ask as many questions as it answers and there are indications that the bats may even be using the tunnel as a ‘route through’. Certainly there is no ‘major’ roost present but it is being well used. The winter hibernation visits did not add anything to the single record we have from 2016 of a single bat hibernating there. We will wait and see what proposals come forward for the future of the tunnel but thanks to the help of all the volunteers we now at least have a much better knowledge of its use by bats. Thanks to everyone involved.
Six people headed off on the Rosedale walk to look for Ring ouzel and Redstart. From the car park Red grouse were calling and throughout the day were plentiful and amazingly tame. A lot of displaying and chasing and calling by numerous males were witnessed. Surprisingly there were no Wheatear present around the kilns but it was not long before we found two males in pristine condition on a meadow. At the same time a Redstart was singing from the hanging woodlands but refused to show itself. While attracted to the Redstart a pair of Ring ouzels were spotted at the far end of the meadow, Rob picking up their distant song. Before we could get really close they were disturbed by some other walkers and cyclists but did not go far and we then closed up and had better views. An odd call was bothering us which we eventually confirmed as the call of a Ring ouzel when later in the day we watched on calling from a clump of heather. As we walked a further pair of Ring ouzel was then detected further north with much better views. Golden plover were calling and a singleton and a pair were seen as we progressed along the track and a further pair of Ring ouzels flew out of some rushes to the east of the track. Greylag geese came flying over from the south, not quite a moorland bird! Just as we approached our lunch stop near the mine shaft it started to rain and waterproofs were donned. During lunch a Sparrowhawk put in a brief appearance on the southern crest of the hill. The walk was a bit swifter in the wind and rain but stopped before we got back to the cars giving us ample time for further good views of Ring ouzel, one of which had a yellow ring on its left leg. Redstarts were again singing but as before there was no sign of them. A great day out.
I think we were all thrilled at the wonderful day in Cropton. Andrew and his friends with a few additional SFNS eyes found total of 38 male adders, 2 Slowworms and a juvenile Lizard despite the weather not being ideal. The colour variation in the adders was quite dramatic from almost black to a pale green/cream background. The colder weather seems to have kept the Lizards and Slowworms a bit lethargic and had not come out to ‘sun’ themselves. Apart from the reptiles frog spawn was found in many of the shallow pools and wheel ruts and a male toad almost got stood on. The birds were also quite impressive with a quite good numbers of Siskin and Repoll, including a flock of 40-50 of the latter species. We were surprised to have a Raven cr0aking mid morning and the day was rounded off with a chattering Goshawk and also a group of 11 Crossbills, including 2 juveniles, that came and sat in a small dead tree right above our Well done Andrew – we thought we would be lucky if we saw 2 or 3!
It’s a good time of year to spot plants of common wintergreen (Pyrola minor) holding onto last year’s flowers. This is not a common plant but small scattered groups can be found growing in undisturbed woodland beside some forest rides in our area.
Let Pauline Popley know if you find this or anything else of botanic interest
Thanks to a break in the weather we managed to complete the bat box checks across the whole forest. A grand total of 72 bats of 6 species were recorded – Common and Soprano pipitrelle, Daubenton’s, Natterer’s, Brown long-eared and Noctule. Brown long-eared was an extra species to or spring checks and were found at Wykeham and Keys Beck. The latter site produced a total of 3 bats this time which was a nice surprise after a complete blank in the spring check. During the checks we also managed to add replacement boxes in both Wykeham and Broadhead to replace the damaged ones removed during the spring.
We plan to do some repairs on the hibernation boxes at Broadhead soon and also add some replacement boxes to Pexton Ponds area where there are only a few good boxes left at present. The Broadhead hibernation boxes clearly contain a maternity colony during the summer as there was 5-6cms of droppings in the bottom of both of the boxes and a Noctule was still present when we did the check.
At Dalby Beck we found a male Natterer’s with a ring on – Y2833. A quick ask around of John Altringham and John Drewitt originally lead us to believe we had misread the ring as there was a male Natterer’s, Y3833, ringed at the windy pits in 2003. It later transpired that the bat had actually been rung at Ellerburn church in 2013 and Y2833 was the correct number. It has been recorded at the church each year since it was ringed.
Must be just the time for the second brood of Wall brown butterflies as there were 4+ at Rodger Trod (TA018960) on Sunday 27th Aug 2018 and 2+ at Broxa at Reasty Bank (SE9494) on Sunday 28th August.Nick G
Despite the gloomy forecasts for the weather earlier in the week it was a good warm evening with little wind and with plenty of insects available for the bats to eat. From the car park we descended to the nearest viewpoint over the water to sit and wait. A heron flew in and perched on the top of the pines to our left and was beautifully silhouetted against the sky. The first surprise of the evening was that our first bat at 8.23 was a Noctule . This was clearly visible feeding above us with its characteristic ‘chip’chop’ call coming from the bat detectors. It was soon joined a by a second, and these bats continued to feed high over the valley for most of the time we were present. After 10 minutes and with no other bats other than the feeding Noctules we headed off down the lake to see what else we could find. Our first pipistrelle, a Common, did not appear until 8.39, soon to be followed by a Soprano pipistrelle at 8.41. By the time we reached the dam at the far end of the lake there was still little activity from any bats apart from the Noctules. A few pipistrelles of both species passed through and we then headed back half way up the lake towards the car park, disturbing a toad off the track as we went, and sat at another view point. Despite it now being quite dark there was still no sign of any Daubenton’s bats over the water which was the second surprise of the evening, as it seems a very suitable site. A few Common and Soprano pipistrelles were feeding in front of us but it was relatively quiet. As a last resort we returned to our starting point at the top of the lake where we found Common and Soprano pipitsrelles in numbers, regularly having 2+ bats in front of us. At last the rattle of a Myotis bat on the detectors and, turning on the light, we had some good views of Daubenton’s bats flying low over the water for the next 10 minutes. There was probably only one or two Daubenton’s present judging by the timing of their appearances.
Analysis of the calls from the two recorders the following day did show that we had missed 2 passes by Daubenton’s bat earlier in the evening, one near the dam and the other half way back up the lake. The second ‘missed call’ was particularly interesting as it revealed those characteristic reverse hook pattern of a Daubenton’s social call which I have not seen as clearly as this recording for some time.
There were also some nice Noctule calls with changes from the short flat calls, when little information on their surroundings is required in a large open area, to steep sweeping calls when they got closer to the side of the valley and more navigational information was required.
A good finish to the Nats outdoor programme for 2017.
Seven turned out to check what bats were using the Key’s Beck pond site where the spring bat box check showed a complete absence of bats. We managed to do recording at four different points around the site which consists of two ponds with a causeway between the two. Recorders were stationed at the northern and southernmost points of the pond, on the causeway and also on a forest ride through some mature trees to the west of the ponds. We started at 8.50pm and finished at 10.30pm. We were a little surprised to find access tricky due to the extensive harvesting that is going on in the area but managed to all get down to the site ready to start on time. The felling will clearly make the site more exposed in the short term but will recover after restocking.
Results are quite interesting. Common pips were very active around the causeway between the two ponds.with an average of a pass every 20secs or so throughout the survey period, whilst none of the other points recorded anywhere near that activity. The lower pond where I was was a very sheltered spot, and plenty of midges, but very little activity which was a surprise. The upper pond site and the ride site had good Common pip activity but only in short bursts which is again surprising when compared to the causeway site. Despite the large area of water only a single Myotis species, almost certainly a Daubenton’s from the sonogram, appeared to do a fly through the site without stopping being recorded at the upper pond, on the causeway and at the lower pond all in the same 5 min period but not at any other time. Colin, on the ride, picked up a Brown long-eared bat at 22.18 and 22.19 and this was the only other species recorded. It ties up with the lack of usage we have found at the bat boxes but we will see what the autumn check turns up there.
What an evening. After and inauspicious start with a gusty wind and mist occasionally rolling around it did not seem likely to be god for nightjars. Standing in the wind we had one brief ‘hear’ of a Woodcock only and by 9.35 it looked bleak. Walking further down the track into a more sheltered area we soon heard the ‘cwick’ of a flying bird on the clearfell to our left partly hidden by trees. Some of us ventured across some heather and brash to get a better view the other side of the trees and were soon rewarded by a male streaking low across the clearfell and ‘bouncing’ a second bird. The light was still good at this stage. There was quite a bit of churring then from at least two birds and one flew up from the heather between the two groups, possibly a female. We all gathered again on the track and had some good views of flying males. A lot of cwicking from the clearfell caused some of us to venture back through the small band of trees only to have a male bird come to rest on the ground some 10m away, fluffing out its tail and wings showing its white spots. The light was good enough to see all the details of its cryptic markings. To make things better it then did a quick flit right past us and settled on a log some 6m away completely unphased by our presence. Still flicking its tail and wings it then moved from the log to a small twig above still flicking away its wings and tail. After some 2-3 minutes it took flight and did some nice low passes over the whole group. While this was going on another male was giving the group left on the track some really good views as well. Re-uniting on the track the birds continued to fly about and chur from various points around the enormous clearfell. On at least one occasion there was three birds churring at the same time. It was good to hear a lot of display flight wing clapping and its ‘clockwork toy running down’ chur. Mapping all the churring there are at least 4 males on the site and possibly 5.
It was sad there was only 5 of us there to see it.
It has been a week for rescuing hedgehogs from potential road traffic. On Tuesday 1st August Rob Stark stopped when a hedgehog was wandering around the road at East Ayton. Rob stopped and moved the endangered animal into the adjacent churchyard which is hopefully where it was safer and where it had been going. Then on 7th August I was coming back through Hackness from a bat survey and noted a hedgehog in the middle of the road astride the white line. I thought it had been harmed as there was a big pool of ‘red’ around it. Stopping I found the big pool of red was actually a flattened young pheasant or partridge and the hedgehog was feeding on it. I moved the ‘remains’ to the verge and then moved the hedgehog after it. After some grumbled complaints, presumably about having it’s dinner disturbed, the hedgehog ploughed off through the long vegetation into the field.