Meeting Reports 2019

Lindholme Fete – Saturday, 29th June 2019


With thanks to all those Nats members who turned up and volunteered to man the stall.

We had a prime spot at the courtyard entrance and received plenty of interest in the stall and displays, but only had one attendee on the nature walk.  Perhaps the weather was too warm.

Lakeside – Wednesday, 26th June 2019


Attendees: 6 members and 2 guests

 Site Description: Lakeside island and the hill adjacent to Sandy Lane.
We met by the roundabout at the end of Lakeside Boulevarde and took a brief look by the shingle beach at the material Doncaster Council had arranged to be dredged from the lake. The evening sky was cloudy and so we decided to head straight for the island before the light levels dropped too much. On the way, and while we were on the island we looked out for plants, insects, galls and birds, paying particular attention to notable sightings such as a lone fig tree growing on the edge of the lake , a scale insect which was covering all the branches of a small tree and lady fern growing by the side of the wooden fence. There were several orchids in small numbers including Pyramidal, Bee Orchid and Common Spotted and quite a few Broad leaved Helleborine. On an Italian Alder leaf we found mite galls caused by Eriophyes laevis.

Several birds were raising their young, including coot and mallard. Little grebes were around but their chicks which were evident a couple of weeks ago weren’t to be seen.

Here is a list of the birds we recorded

Blackbird Black headed Gull Blue Tit
Canada geese Coot Gadwall
Great Crested Grebe House Martin Kestrel
Little Grebe Magpie Mallard
Mute Swan Oyster Catcher Pied Wagtail
Reed Bunting Swallow Swift
Tufted Duck Wood Pigeon  


As the light faded there was a better contrast between the water and mute swans affording quite a nice photo of the birds swimming towards us on the off chance that we might have some food.

The  water round the perimeter of the island was devoid of life and had a distinct shade of blue, the council having added some kind of chemical , probably food grade colouring, to cut down light penetration and prevent  blue green algae blooms. One can only be concerned about its affect on the birds on the water and any other life in the water.

Leaving the island we made our way to the small mound created by   remodelling the old Municipal Tip. By then the light was fading as you can see in this photo across the lake.

Amongst other plants on the hill,  we recorded creeping cinquefoil, horsetail, bramble, goosegrass, salad burnet, weld, ox eye daisies and fumitory. On various stems we found evidence of recently emerged day flying 5 spot Burnet moths, their yellow cocoons with remnants of the old skin clearly to be seen on several stems. One pair of moths were seen mating.

Nora Boyle

Bempton RSPB Reserve – Saturday, 15th June 2019

Attendees – Four members attended
Site Description – RSPB Cliff top Nature Reserve on the Yorkshire Coast. Home to the largest mainland gannetry and the nesting place for thousands of other seabirds notably kittiwakes, the three auks puffin, guillemot and razorbill and fulmars ,which are members of the petrol family.

Arriving just after eleven o’clock, by the time we had passed through the visitors’ centre we decided to have an early lunch on the picnic benches outside where we were joined by some over friendly jackdaws. We then followed the path down to the cliffs, turning left towards the viewing platforms .  Looking south toward the gannetry. Almost straight way we came across a viewing point where views of nesting kittiwakes with their yellow bills and black feet were only a short distance away. Only a few chicks were observed we wondered how long it would be before others were in evidence.

From the viewing platforms spread out along the cliffs there were fantastic views of large numbers of gannets, razorbills and guillemots with smaller numbers of fulmars and puffins.Tim and Louise set up the telescope they had brought giving us even closer photos. We spent some time observing the differences between razorbills and guillemots; the two auks which some people have problems separating. They nest in close proximity and in some light appear to be similar in colour but closer examination reveals the very distinctive black and white coloration of razorbills which have broad flattened bills with a vertical white stripe near the tip and guillemots with smaller chocolate coloured heads and longer, more dagger like beaks. On the surface of the sea below where there were large rafts of birds the difference in colour was more obvious.

In some sections of the cliffs, gannets were nesting among the other seabirds and pairs could be seen greeting each other by shaking their heads, bill fencing and mutual preening of heads and necks.

After reaching the southern most viewing platform we returned to the visitor’s centre for refreshments before taking the path in the opposite direction which eventually led us to the most spectacular and interesting part of the Bempton experience. I’m referring to the section of cliffs where there is a large gannetry shown live on CCTV in the tea rooms. Below we could see gannets nesting on the surface of the rocks and to the right of the viewing platform we had very close-up views of birds on top of the cliffs, some courting and some still collecting nesting material and all the time birds taking off and landing, showing their amazing ability to land and take off from small crowded places.

Many of the views allowed us to see examples of gannets at different stages in their development, the first year birds being almost black and subsequent years having increasing amounts of white until they mature in their fifth year. In this photograph you can see a third year juvenile in flight, two 4th year juveniles on the left and adults bill fencing on the right.

We were so enthralled with this section of the reserve we lost track of time for a while and when we eventually returned to the centre it was after five and it was closed. We all agreed that the experience was indeed amazing and well worth the visit. For those of you who considered joining us but thought better of it, you missed a treat!

Nora Boyle

Fairburn Ings and St Aidan’s RSPB Reserves – Saturday, 1st June 2019

Attendees – Nine members attended
Site description – Fairburn Ings and St Aidan’s are RSPB Nature Reserves

Although many species of plants were seen on these reserves our main focus for the day was birds. However, the presence of Sainfoin and Water Droplet at Fairburn and Celery-leaved buttercup and Black Mustard at St Aidan’s are worth a mention.

On arrival at Fairburn it was discovered that a Red necked Phalarope had been seen on the reserve, so we set off to try to get a sighting. When we reached the area where it had been seen we found that it was still around but it was quite a long way in the distance and sometimes only its head or tail could be seen.

We then retraced our steps to join the new pathway and continued walking past reed beds towards the area where spoonbills were nesting in the Heronry. We clearly saw several, albeit at a distance. The first hatching in the North of England took place at Fairburn in 2017 when 3 chicks were reared. Spoonbills have not nested regularly in the UK since the 1700’s but they are now returning, possibly due to climate change.

On the way we saw and heard many birds in the reeds including Reed Bunting, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and, another highlight of our list, Bearded Tit. We also heard a Cuckoo, one of the short stay birds.

After lunch we left Fairburn and travelled to St Aidan’s reserve about 10 minutes drive away. There we were directed to a tall post near the Visitor’s centre, at the top of which was a Little Owl. We then spilt into two groups to investigate the reserve.

One took a shorter route round the meadow where we saw a creche of Greylags, consisting of 6 adult birds and 42 goslings, and a Great Crested Grebe carrying at least two chicks with their stripy plumage, on its back.

The other group took a longer route where they saw a variety of birds, in particular a good number of Lapwing, Reed Bunting and nesting Black-headed Gulls. Passing a field where cows were grazing, the group saw a couple of hares frolicking and as they were returning to the car park a Red Kite was flying around being harried by a kestrel.

At the end of an excellent day we had an impressive list of 58 species of birds.
Nora Boyle

Canada Goose Greylag Goose Mute Swan Gadwall Mallard Great Crested Grebe
Shoveler Pochard Tufted Duck Little Grebe Spoonbill Grey Heron
Little Egret Cormorant Red Kite Moorhen Coot Oystercatcher
Avocet Lapwing Stock Dove Common Tern Kestrel Red-necked Phalarope
Wood Pigeon Cuckoo Little Owl Swift Magpie Black-headed Gull
Jackdaw Carrion Crow Blue Tit Great Tit Skylark Green Woodpecker
Sand Martin Barn Swallow House Martin Long-tailed Tit Willow Warbler Chiffchaff
Sedge Warbler Reed Warbler Blackcap Wren Starling Tree Sparrow
Dunnock Blackbird Meadow Pipit Chaffinch Bullfinch Linnet
Goldfinch Reed Bunting Bearded Tit Pheasant    


Back Wood and Pond adjacent to Manor Farm Estate, Bessacarr – Wednesday, 7pm 15 May 2019

Attendees : Five Nats members were in attendance.
Site description : Back Wood is part of Warren Wood and consists mainly of oak trees.
Many of the Oaks have multiple burrs on their trunks. Burrs are masses of shoot and bud tissue which have grown to form a distinctly knobbly trunk. They usually form over a wound, which could be caused by a variety of factors, thereby protecting the tree from further damage at that site. This photograph shows a typical example (click on image to expand).

The woodland floor was covered with typical mixed woodland vegetation, including Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum), Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta), Climbing Corydalis (Ceratocapnos claviculata), and Greater Stitchwort (Stellaria holostea).  Soft rush (Juncus effusus) with its continuous pith was also found; ( Hard rush (J. inflexus) has an interrupted pith).

Adjacent to the wood and Manor Farm Estate was a sustainable urban drainage pond created to take excess water from the estate and managed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. The margin of the body of water consisted mainly of Common Reed (Phragmites australis) and Reed mace (Typha angustifolia) with patches of Ragged Robin (Lychis flos-cuculi), Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris), Water Mint (Mentha aquatica) and Water Figwort  (Scrophularia auriculata) with its winged stems; (Common Figwort  (S. nodosa) doesn’t have winged stems ).

Across both sites we either saw or heard 9 species of birds, including Blackcap, Whitethroat and Song Thrush. Also, from the bulrushes in the middle of the pond, we saw and heard a male Reed Bunting singing. We identified two species of fungi Common Inkcap (Coprinus atramentarius) and Birch Polypore (Piptoporous botulinus), one gall, a Marble gall (Andricus kollari), two insects, the steely blue Alder beetle (Agelastica alni) and the relatively common micro moth the Common Yellow Conch (Agapeta hamana).

Finally, we saw some rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) !

Dawn Chorus in Sandall Beat Wood – Monday, 6th May 2019

Dawn Chorus 6th May 2019
DNS Trip to Sandall Beat 4.30am – 6.15am
Recorders: Louise Hill, Tim Prosser

Weather Conditions: Light enough to read by on commencement. Sun rose at 5.22 at Station 11 into broken cloud sheet.

We recorded 22 species (plus the cockerel crowing at Sandall Beat Riding Stables!):

Blue Tit
Carrion Crow
Garden Warbler?
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Great Tit
Sedge/Reed Warbler (?)
Song Thrush
Tree Creeper
Willow Warbler
Wood Pigeon

This year’s survey was notable for lack of Tawny Owl and Green Woodpecker and suspected presence of Garden Warbler and confirmed Willow Warbler (in fen). We also had a good view of a pair of tree creepers seen on old oak near the Woodman’s House.
Great Spotted Woodpecker was only recorded as drumming.

Doncaster Common – Saturday, 27 April 2019

Attendees : Louise Hill, Nora Boyle, John Scott, Colin Howes
Site description : Rough grassland generally

On a rather blustery and chilly day the group only managed to stay out for about one hour.
The species of note were Pill Sedge (Carex pilulifera) growing as very large tussocks and Green-ribbed Sedge (C. binervis). [The later is a tentative i.d. due to early growth stage, Louise]

Species Name Common Name Species Name Common Name
Carex pilulifera Pill Sedge Cerastium arvense Field Mouse-ear
Galium saxatile Heath Bedstraw Calluna vulgaris Heather
Juncus squarrosus Heath Rush Ulex minor Dwarf Gorse
Ranunculus bulbosus Bulbous Buttercup Lotus corniculatus Common Bird’s-foot-trefoil
Molinia caerulea Purple Moor-grass Lamium purpureum Red Dead-nettle
Carex binervis Green-ribbed Sedge Salix cinerea  
Cytisus scoparius Broom Filipendula ulmaria Meadowsweet
Galium album Hedge Bedstraw Silene dioica Red Campion
Iris pseudacorus Yellow Iris Rumex acetosella Sheep’s Sorrel
Rumex acetosa      
Phylloscopus collybita Common Chiffchaff    


Click on image to expand

Thorpe Marsh Nature Reserve –  Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Thorpe Marsh newt survey report, 17th April 2019.

On the evening of Wednesday 17th April 2019 Louise Hill and Mick Townsend, Doncaster Naturalists’ Society members, and Paul Townsend (no relation), visited Thorpe Marsh to survey some of the water bodies. We began at 8.20 pm and finished at 10.30.

We observed the following numbers of great crested newts, Triturus cristatus, and smooth newts, Triturus vulgaris, at the following locations.

At Applehurst Flash we saw no newts but we found several dozen folded leaves each with a great crested newt egg attached. At nearby Louis’s Pond we observed one female great crested newt and one smooth newt.
Railway Pond is a newt stronghold but parts were rather turbid and in spite of surveying about 70% of it by torchlight we saw only ten great crested newts. Of these nine were males and the other was an egg-laying female.
We saw no newts or eggs in the Mere Scrape. The Scrape has hundreds of fish that may have reduced the presence of newts.

We had bat detectors and observed at least three pipistrelle bats (Pipistrellus species) in Reedholme and one along the main embankment.