Connecting for Nature

Keeping Yorkshire folk in touch with their local biodiversity news

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Experts sought for National Trust Advisory Group

National Trust

Fancy a voluntary role providing advice to the National Trust on environmental matters? Read on. 

The National Trust is seeking applications from suitably experienced individuals from all walks of life who can commit to 10 days per year for their Natural Environment Advisory Group. Particular ecological expertise is welcomed in ‘Coastal Ecology’, ‘Ecological Data’ and ‘People and Nature’. If you think you know someone who might be interested in this opportunity please let them know. They have until 21st June to apply. The advert below has been circulated by the National Trust and is a nationwide opportunity.

“Who are we”

We look after the places and collections you love, from houses, buildings and gardens to coast and countryside. We exist because people share the idea that beautiful natural and historic places matter – for our spirit, our well-being and our relationships. We don’t seek to preserve or present one unchanging view of our country, rather we celebrate its variety. Whether it’s historic houses, farms, coastlines, woodlands, terraced houses or city parks, we stand up for the places that matter to people everywhere. We take our responsibility to protect very seriously, and we want beautiful places to look and feel amazing forever. We also believe that we need to be an organisation that puts people first. We are open to all, whether you love walking in the outdoors, campaigning for nature, immersing yourself in history or simply want to spend time in a beautiful place with family and friends. We want to make sure that, no matter who you are or where you come from, you feel welcome and able to make a difference to the places that matter to you.

“Who we’re looking for”

We are looking for new members to join the Natural Environment Advisory Group, to share their unique expertise and act as critical friends. Natural Environment is one of four voluntary Advisory Groups in the Trust providing advice and provocation to the discussion of strategic topics commissioned by members of the Exec team. The other groups are: Commercial, Collections & Interpretation, and Historic Environment which together cover the areas where external volunteer advice is greatly valued. These groups are highly respected professionals who give their time, both as individuals on site, and working as a group at bi-annual meetings, to advise on strategy, significant projects and acquisitions. Natural Environment Advisory Group members also act as a source of advice and peer review in relation to all aspects of land, outdoors and nature, be that rural or urban, including: coast, countryside and farmed land, wildlife, natural aspects of gardens or built structures, environmental change and impact of major infrastructure. The key areas of Trust strategy this group influences are Restoring a healthy beautiful natural environment and Looking after what we’ve got.

We are looking for new members who are capable of working at both a strategic level at group meetings, and in a detailed way on visits to regional Trust sites. Experience of working on landscape-scale projects and previous involvement in conducting or commissioning research is desirable. Volunteers will be expected to reflect the Trust’s Values & Behaviours at all times, providing insightful and constructive advice in a collegiate and professional manner during meetings and out on site.

We are looking for new members whose expertise and interests cover one or more of the following areas:

  • Ecology, with skills in land, habitat and species management and the adaptation of habitats and species to climate change.
  • Ecological Data with skills in the management and analysis of ‘Big Data’, understanding the place of citizen science in data procurement, and realising the full potential of remote sensing in ecosystem management and monitoring.
  • Coastal Ecology with skills in coastal zone management and the delivery of ecosystem services from coastal and offshore marine habitats and biotopes.
  • People & Nature, with experience connecting and engaging people with the natural environment. This may include citizen science and the role of the natural environment and outdoors in improving health and wellbeing.

We are looking for colleagues who have passion for and extensive knowledge in these areas, who possess a curious mind, and a collegiate outlook. The role requires a commitment of up to ten days a year and is for an initial term of three years, with the potential for a second term, pending agreement from staff and the volunteer in question. Advisory Groups each meet twice per year with an Advisory Groups Conference for all groups in the summer. Further to this, members can be invited to attend property visits to provide advice on specific projects or support strategic pieces of work. The positions are voluntary, but expenses are paid.

Applicants must submit a short CV and a covering letter expressing why they feel motivated to join the Group. This recruitment process is for terms beginning in Autumn 2019 and Spring 2020. There will therefore be one new member starting in October and a further three joining the group the following Spring.

For further information: Contact Isabel Gilbert, Advisory Groups Coordinator  (01793 817574) To apply: Please send a CV and covering letter.

Closing date: 12:00, 21 June 2019
We are committed to equal opportunities.  The National Trust is for everyone and we welcome applications from all sections of the community.

Interviews: 12 & 19 July 2019

NEAG Autumn Meeting: 17 & 18 October 2019


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Helping Hedgehogs

animal animal world bristle close up

Photo by Pixabay on

Hedgehogs are in trouble, declining due to a range of challenges, from habitat loss and road deaths to climate change and reduced availability of food through increased pesticide use in farming. Two conservation charities joined forces a few years ago to set up the Hedgehog Street campaign to inspire the great British public to help hedgehogs by making their gardens more hedgehog-friendly.

Hedgehog Street (Hedgehog Street ) is a joint campaign from the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and the People’s Trust for Endangered Species  They have just launched two free guides for local authorities, providing advice on how to help hedgehogs in your community. This is how they describe them in a recent mailing to local authority planners and countryside departments:

  • Hedgehog Ecology and Land Management – a free guide created for land managers, park rangers, recreational or cemetery groundskeepers, ecologists and similar. It covers the ecology of hedgehogs and tips on how to manage land more sensitively, to help hedgehogs – including advice about ground maintenance, mowing regimes and potential hedgehog hazards on site. It also provides advice on how to easily survey your greenspaces for hedgehogs. Download your free copy here:
  • Hedgehogs and Development – a free guide created for developers, architects, planners and contractors. Hedgehogs are considered a species of Principle Importance under Section 41 of NERC, so it’s worthwhile including hedgehogs in your local plan, particularly as a way to achieve biodiversity net gain requirements and ecological enhancement. This guide provides free advice on how to easily incorporate hedgehogs into ecological surveys, and how to mitigate for hedgehogs before, during and after a build, including how to install Hedgehog Highways. Almost 500,000 people across the UK have signed a petition calling for Hedgehog Highways to be installed in all new developments. The public have spoken, so use this guide to get advice on how to support your local hedgehog population in any future development work, and how you can integrate this advice into your own Local Plan. Download your free copy here:

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Bird Reports

I was pleased to take delivery of not one but two excellent annual bird reports this past week. Bear in mind that these take a lot of pulling together using thousands of records submitted by amateur observers through numerous routes and sometimes collating end of year reports from other natural history groups, so it is quite common for annual bird reports to be a couple of years behind, playing catch-up. That said, they form an invaluable document of the changing fortunes of our county’s avian fauna and are surprisingly enjoyable to read or dip in to (even if you are not a dyed-in-the-wool birder).

The two new arrivals on my doormat are the 2017 Filey Bird and Wildlife Report and the Yorkshire Bird Report 2015. Both are lavishly illustrated with fabulous photos and original artwork. The systematic species by species summaries which make up the main body of each report are book-ended by fascinating articles such as unusual sightings, bird ringing and conservation projects. They would grace any coffee table and if you are not a YNU member or FBOG member, which entitles you to a free copy, then both are available to purchase. (Links below for obtaining copies of the reports for non-members.)

YNU publications  – online shop, for Yorkshire Bird Report and more….

Filey Bird and Wildlife Report

EDIT 3/5/19

Seen on Twitter another great wildlife annual report just published:

“Spurn Wildlife 2018 has now been printed, members of Friends of Spurn please collect your copy at Kew next time you are at Spurn, if not copies will be posted out later on in May”

Link to tweet


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Talking Chalk

A new partnership for the Chalk Landscapes of Yorkshire

A conference-style launch event was held on 18th April at Driffield Showground called ‘Our Chalk Landscape’. The event, supported by the Waterways Partnership sought to bring together a large number of interested stakeholders, passionate about the landscapes and waterscapes of the Yorkshire Wolds, around an idea that a new collaborative partnership could be born. Themes covered in the half-day conference included nature tourism, heritage and archaeology of the Wolds, the chalk geology and its aquifer as a water resource, wildlife habitats such as chalk streams and chalk grassland as well as economic importance of the land and seas. Although still embryonic there was a great deal of passion and enthusiasm amongst the attendees and a corny working title for the initiative was tabled. ‘Chalkshire – Yorkshire’s Hidden Landscape’. Whatever you may think of the name and whether or not it gains traction, this new collaboration to promote, celebrate and look after the unique qualities of Britain’s most northerly exposure of chalk rocks is definitely keen to here from anyone who shares a passion for the area and wishes to get involved in the dialogue. In the first instance you can register an interest with Annabel Hanson.

The conference was the brainchild of Jon Trail, a Living Landscapes Manager at Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, who has seen many different landscape and habitat schemes battle to secure small to medium amounts of funding. Jon felt that a more ambitious, holistic approach encompassing the very fabric of the landscape and all that flows from it (my pun – apologies) could be a more useful way to join forces. The hope is not to duplicate effort or aims of other existing partnerships but to find ways to work together towards common objectives, embracing the inevitable changes facing the countryside at the present time, from climate change and habitat loss to new primary legislation, namely the Environment Act and the Agriculture Bill.

Jon appealed to the attendees to recognise that economic activity has to be part of the solution, whether that be farming, marine or freshwater fisheries, tourism or industry. In other words one cannot fossilize a landscape to protect it as it now is – The Wolds in particular have been shaped by man over millenia and will continue to be influenced by the people who live there, so we must be pro-active and forward-thinking so that we can shape the policies that will dictate what happens in such places.

chalk landscape flyer screen grb (2)

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Buckthorn for Brimstones

A new and innovative project, spearheaded by Whitby Naturalists Club is hoping to benefit the expansion of the breeding range of Brimstone butterfly by providing the foodplant for it to lay egg on. Brimstones are at the edge of their range here in North Yorkshire, though adults are regularly recorded in the Whitby area and across the region.

By planting Alder Buckthorn, a native but uncommon moisture-loving shrub (Frangula alnus confusingly neither thorny nor an Alder), the group hopes to provide stepping stones of habitat for it northward spread. A number of countryside sites including Calla Beck and The Cinder Track will be planted with Alder Buckthorn, with funds from Butterfly Conservation through their Yorkshire Branch, who are fully supportive of the venture. Scarborough Borough Council have obtained 300 bare-root whips of the shrub on behalf of the Club and already the first conservation task has begun the job of planting, with the help of  The Cinders volunteers on 7th March, as part of a habitat improvement task at Middlewood Lane, Fylingthorpe.

The next task with The Cinders, also involves alder buckthorn planting, at Ravenscar station and the approaches to the old tunnel, where Brimstones have been recorded. To join in with this task meet at Station Square in Ravenscar on 28th March at 10.30am, or contact to register with the Cinders group for notifications of all their future tasks on the old railway line.

Numerous members of Whitby Nats have pledged to plant Alder Buckthorn in their garden or land. We may not know if this mission is successful for several years, but BC Yorkshire reps are confident there is every chance it will help the species expand its breeding range. Naturally if you do spot a Brimstone butterfly, do please report it using i-Record or your local Naturalist’s society recorder.

More info on this pdf article by Whitby Naturalists:


The First Buckthorn for Brimstones tree planting site at Middlewood Lane, Fylingthorpe

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Ravenscar conservation task


20190207_135944Earlier this month a record-breaking turnout of Cinders volunteers braved a wild and wet start to the day at Ravenscar old station. The premise of the task was tree planting to the south of Ravenscar, but in view of the weather we elected to stay close to the vehicles and start the task with some clearance work at the station itself. This in the end proved to be very satisfying and rewarding work as we cleared brambles from the old track bed, scraped moss off the platform, cut back fallen trees and planted some holly and birch to improve the understory in the Scots Pine shelter belt.


20190207_111354We also uncovered a footpath ramp leading down off the platform and our chopping and raking revealed some promising grassland which we hope can be managed annually hereafter and even has good potential for a picnic table or two. Including leaders there were sixteen people out on task, which eclipses other popular tasks such as Hawsker Sidings and Fylinghall Station. The Cinders group is really gaining some momentum now, following its launch in September and we look forward to seeing both regular faces and new faces at future tasks.

img_20190207_220255_572-1After lunch we switched locations and walked down the railway line to Bent Rigg Lane, the first bridge over the track going south from Ravenscar. Here in a wide grassy cutting we set to work planting a mixture of tree species including birch, crab apple, dog rose, field maple and cherry. The stretch between here and Ravenscar is one of the most open and tree-less parts of the railway line. Further planting will seek to create pockets of shrubs and trees to improve the connectivity of the wildlife corridor, whilst retaining open views to the sea and the old listening station.

The volunteers really enjoyed themselves and several commented afterward what a varied and interesting task it had been. May all our Cinders activities be so blessed!

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Centenary Wood, Scalby

Centenary Wood will occupy these former meadows at Scalby Mills, North of Scarborough.

A new woodland, commemorating the Centenary of the First World War Armistice

Former meadows close to the Cleveland Way at Scalby Mills are being transformed into a brand new woodland for Scarborough. The Armistice Centenary Wood, begun in 2018 with a symbolic planting of the first one hundred trees, commemorates the end of the Great War. This mixed native woodland will in time grow up to form a wonderful new habitat on former stewardship land just north of Scarborough, extending from the wild, wooded slopes of the Scalby Beck ravine.

You can help by coming to a Community tree-planting event on 16th Feb. The Saturday tree-planting drop-in will run all day from 10am until 4pm. Bring a packed lunch if you fancy getting stuck in for the full day or pop by for half an hour or so and plant a few trees.

Families are welcome for the tree-planting day – we have already had help from children from a local pre-school to plant up a corner and they did a super job! There will be tools and expert guidance provided – though you may bring your own gardening gloves if you wish, or even a spade! Wrap up warmly and wear sturdy footwear as it could be muddy.


Scalby Beck ravine forms will adjoin the southern edge of Centenary Wood.

Where is Armistice Centenary Woodland?

The arrow shows the middle of the new Armistice Centenary Woodland, occupying a strip of land between the footpath and the Sea Cut.

Heading north on the coast road out of Scarborough, just after crossing Scalby Beck the A165 swings round a tight left-hand bend and begins uphill passing Scalby Manor pizza and carvery towards the caravan site. On the left is a layby and opposite that a trackway leading to the meadows. Scalby Manor restaurant has given consent for tree-planting volunteers to use their car park. (They have a ‘half-term’ offer at the moment, until 2nd March, for kids to eat for £1 with an adult main, which families might like to avail themselves of.)

UPDATE: Scalby Manor has agreed a 10% discount off food for tree-planting volunteers on Saturday. Ask for a voucher when you come to the tree planting if you wish to take up this offer.

Scarborough Conservation Volunteers have made a fantastic start on planting the 3000 bare root trees at Scalby Meadows


Scalby Mills meadows used to be regularly cut in late summer but due to their tremendous popularity for exercising dogs Scarborough Borough Council had to stop managing them as meadows. A few years ago the last contract farmer willing to manage the site by taking a hay crop for animal feed gave notice that he could no longer take the hay, owing to contamination due to dog fouling. This sad state of affairs reflects unfairly on the hundreds of dog owners who do clean up after their pets, but the Council’s Parks department has been scratching heads over what to do with the site ever since. In 2018 when some funding for tree-planting within the Borough was secured from North Yorkshire County Council, the idea of Centenary Wood was born.

An oak sapling inside its tree shelter at Centenary Wood

A mixed-species native woodland

Oak saplings were planted first to form a basic structure with much of the work spearheaded  by Scarborough Conservation Volunteers in recent weeks. Thousands more bare-root ‘whips’ of species such as hazel, birch, field maple, bird cherry and crab apple are still to be planted before spring arrives. Ideally bare-root trees should be planted before the end of March. Salt-tolerant sea buckthorn and sycamore have been included in the mix for the seaward end but the very last meadow before the clifftop will be left as rough grassland and has slightly better potential for wildflowers than the other fields to be planted.

Follow the progress through updates on the Connecting for Nature blog. You can also sign up to occasional Connecting for Nature updates by email using the link

A view of the site before the planting of Armistice Centenary Woodland.

The former meadows form a link between the A171 coast road and the clifftops just north of Scalby Mills.

The structure of the woodland was set out with oaks. Smaller species will be planted between, with the help of community volunteers.