Connecting for Nature

A Biodiversity Partnership for Ryedale, Scarborough and the Howardian Hills

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Betty’s Trees for Life fund


A call for applications has gone out to community and greenspace groups in Yorkshire for the Betty’s Trees for Life Fund. This is suitable for the likes of Bloom groups and Friends groups for parks and green spaces as well as Parish Councils, CICs, schools and social enterprises.

The fund aims to support groups working to improve local green spaces and wildlife habitats through tree planting projects, improved access to woodland and environmental management and education projects. The link between accessible green space and well being is well documented and the fund is also interested in projects that aim to use environmental activity to promote good physical and mental health. Improvement projects could also focus on invasive species removal, wetland enhancement

Grants are available from £500 to £4000. The fund is currently accepting applications and there will be two grant rounds in 2019 with decisions on applications for grant awards made in March 2019 and September 2019. Deadlines for applications will be:-

25th February 2019 (for March 2019 panel)

26th August 2019 (for September 2019 panel)

Applications which miss the deadline date will be put forward into the next funding round subject to available funding.

More info and application details on the website of the Two Ridings Community Foundation – the York-based charitable body which administers the grants for Betty’s.

There are also guidance notes to read before applying and these can be found here:


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Spa Bridge repairs work around Kittiwake nests

Spa Bridge, seen here before repair works saw it clothed in scaffolding for the winter, is home to nesting Kittiwakes in the spring and summer.

Spa Bridge in Scarborough is one of many structures and buildings in Scarborough favoured as nesting sites by the Kittiwake, a delicate, ocean-going gull and a species of conservation concern in the UK. The bridge is presently clothed with scaffolding and shrouding while engineers complete essential repairs to ironwork and repaint the bridge over winter. North Yorkshire County Council is undertaking the maintenance and sought advice from the Borough Council Ecologist and Scarborough Birders over the timing of the works. It would be against the law to disturb or remove nests during the breeding season.

The nature of the works is mainly repainting but also some repairs to ironwork where there were cracks noted in routine condition surveys. A quantity of feral pigeon nests have been removed from above the bridge abutments, but Kittiwake nests have been left in situ wherever possible, recognising that this is an important and favoured nest site for Kittiwakes and that the birds would only rebuild if they were removed anyway. No exclusion measures are being put in place to discourage the Kittiwakes.

Kittiwakes take readily to urban windowsills and ledges which for them mimic natural cliff nesting sites. Pairs return to the same nest year on year and add to the previous construction.

Kittiwakes habitually return to the same nest year after year, often adding to the previous year’s construction. Clearing old nests and excluding Kittiwakes from Spa Bridge with netting or spikes will merely displace them to other buildings nearby and quite likely to inconvenience residents and visitors further, such as shopping streets or hotel buildings in the town. A local campaigner and Kittiwake-advocate, Jean Grundy, who intervened last spring when maintenance workers were in danger of disturbing early-nesting Kittiwakes, was keen to point out that the Spa Bridge is in many ways a much more preferable location for the birds to nest than other nearby buildings that they might move to.

Jon-Pierre Winlow, the County Council’s Bridges Engineer who organised the work has confirmed that the work is currently on schedule, planning to finish by 3rd week January, before Kittiwakes return and start prospecting for nesting sites. Hopefully come February the Kittiwakes will be able to appreciate a gleaming new paint job, making their nests the smartest in the Scarborough colony.

Kittiwake nests high up on The Grand Hotel, Scarborough in springtime.

A number of residential buildings in Scarborough town are used by nesting Kittiwakes, particularly if in sight of the sea.

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Conservation Task to tackle former Frog Orchid Site on the Cinder Track

On the 1st November a small team of volunteers will help to restore an important habitat for scarce flora on a steep cutting on the Old Railway Line in the Robin Hood’s Bay area. The task, a partnership between the National Park and Scarborough Borough Council will focus on a specific area of banking which has become colonized by scrub in recent years but formerly held records of Frog Orchid, a species which has not been recorded there for at least six years. The task will take place on Thurs Nov 1st and interested volunteers are invited to contact the Coastal Ranger Bernie McLinden to express interest in participating. People not previously registered to volunteer with the North York Moors National Park are encouraged to register with volunteering team at the National Park by emailing which will give access to this an other tasks in the future.

The benefit of registering is that it provides access to an online volunteering portal which alerts you to further opportunities as soon as they are posted on the system, both for the Cinder Track and other opportunities across the National Park open to all registered volunteers. The National Park’s dedicated volunteer coordinators, Chris and Jo will be happy to explain how it all works and take you through the registration process. This task comes ahead of the launch of a new volunteer scheme to focus on the ecological enhancement tasks on the Cinder Track, to be announced to the press in early November.

Location of task: Cinder Track west of Browside Farm, Robin Hoods Bay.

Date: 1st Nov 2018 Time: 10.30am – 3pm

Meeting point: Ravenscar – opp. public conveniences, from where lift available by minibus – places limited -please contact National Park Ranger Bernie McLinden to ask about lifts on 07976 292889.  The task will continue into the afternoon, and you’re welcome to come for all or part of the time.  Wear old clothes, and bring lunch and drinks as the work site is away from facilities and shops.

If arriving on foot or by bicycle you may prefer to meet us at the task site at 10.45

Task: scrub and grassland management on embankment.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The work site is on a steep slope, which may present difficulties for some volunteers. There may be limited roles for volunteers assisting on the flat surface of the Cinder Track, dealing with the arisings but if in doubt speak to Bernie McLinden.

Details: This task will focus on a specific area of railway cutting where a scarce species of Orchid was recorded up until a few years ago. Frog Orchid used to flower here in til as recently as 2012, with a record of 25 flower spikes in ……. The cutting used to benefit from grazing by cattle of an adjacent landowner, until some remedial drainage works following a landslip changed the configuration of ditches and made this incidental grazing no longer possible. The task itself will begin clearing scrub such as hawthorn, dog rose and bramble from the slope and cutting and raking off rough grass to open up the habitat again. 20181001_130954

The nearby Stoupe Brow and Browside Farm stretch of the track offers superb views of Robin Hood’s Bay.

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Migration Week – bigger and better than ever in Filey and Flamborough

‘Migweek’, the annual festival of bird migration and autumn wildlife inaugurated by FBOG (Filey Bird Observatory and Group) returns this October spanning the 13th -21st of the month and it will be bigger and better than ever – with more talks, walks and bird ringing demos than previous years. In large part this is due to the combined strength of Filey and Flamborough bird Observatory teams, to create a collaborative event across both locations.

We are blessed to have no fewer than three bird observatories on the Yorkshire Coast, monitoring the seasonal comings and goings of migrants. Two of these, Filey Bird Observatory and Flamborough Bird Observatory are within easy striking distance of each other and have joined forces to offer the fantastic autumn wildlife spectacular dubbed Migration Week or Migweek, which is the subject of this post. (The third, Spurn Observatory is something of a Mecca for birders, incidentally and well worth the pilgrimage to the southeastern extremity of the Yorkshire coastline.)

The focal point of Migweek at Flamborough will be the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Living Seas Centre at South Landing, with morning ringing demonstrations throughout the festival, 10-12 daily plus guided migration walks.

In Filey, the walks and ringing demos will be located in their regular spot in Filey Country Park, (the self-same patch graced by Chris Packham recently on his UK Bioblitz tour but that’s another story you can read about elsewhere). There will also be some events at the Filey Dams Nature Reserve, on the edge of town, tucked away behind the housing estate of Wharfdale. The Filey team will be carrying out a marathon of bird ringing all day every day of the festival from dawn to dusk. Their mist nets will be unfurled at first light and checked at regular intervals throughout the day for intercepted migrants arriving into the scrubby woodland.

As if this were not enough there are daily vis mig watches (visible migration) which is where ornithologists set up their telescopes on a coastal headland or watch point and observe the birds streaming past over the sea, often seeing birds make first landfall after their crossing of the North Sea. If you have never experienced it, really it is something else!

Vis-mig morning watches are not confined to the Observatories – there will also be a chance to watch a true officianado of the craft at Hunmanby Gap some of the mornings. Most events do not require booking and all are free to attend, though the evening talks are likely to be very popular and to fill up quickly so booking for these is advisable.

The full programme is on the flyers shown below, also available on the Website of Filey Bird Observatory and a Group.


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Wildlife Conservation event at Brompton


An information afternoon in Brompton by Sawdon promises to be a fantastic opportunity to learn about local wildlife from a range of experts. Organised in support of the Brompton Butts Conservation project, the event was inspired by the discovery of a thriving population of Water Voles in the village, associated with Brompton Beck and ponds.

Invited guest speakers will present a range of short talks on different aspects of iconic wildlife species in the local area and will be available to chat to. A range of stalls will be set up representing local groups with a nature interest. A photography display will also feature and refreshments will be provided for the event. Children will be catered for with nature-themed craft activities, so you can take the whole family along.

The Brompton Wildlife Event is on from 1pm to 5pm on Saturday 29th September and can be found in the village hall in the centre of Brompton village. The best news is that it is free to attend so why not pop in and see what you can learn?

Download the flyer / poster: Brompton Conservation Event Flyer

Brompton Butts flyer pt1Brompton Butts flyer pt2

Edit- Write-up of the event by Val Ford, reproduced, with permission.:

“A celebration of wildlife took place in the Brompton Village Hall on 29th September. There was a huge variety of information on display at the various stalls set up around the room and whether you wanted to know about animals, birds or flowers – it was all there, including the actual presence of water-life swimming in a tray of beck water fished out by staff from the Cranedale Centre! The water was simply teeming with wildlife in every cubic centimetre, enthralling adults and children alike. Next to this stood Graham Bilton and his colleague, locally based wildlife officers for the Police who explained exactly what they do to help protect our precious wildlife.

Visitors could also treat themselves to a wildlife themed afternoon tea with foot shaped sandwiches, birds nest cakes, butterfly buns and delicious chocolate anthills!. At specified times during the afternoon, while people enjoyed their tea, speakers gave their talks and slide presentations. One concerned the local turtle dove project in Sawdon and another our very own water voles in Brompton Beck. The hall was packed for the talks and added a very special ‘local touch’ to the event. The enjoyable afternoon was very successful and a credit to all the hard work of its organiser, Alison Tubbs, her team of speakers and her merry band of supporters.”

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Voles and Vols at Hawsker


A group of volunteers did a sterling job today out on the Cinder Track at Hawsker Sidings, nr Whitby, clearing a grassland site with some excellent botanical interest. The task was supported by North York Moors National Park, Scarborough Borough Council and Whitby Naturalists Club, with volunteers from the local community and the National Park volunteering service.

Over lunch a discussion about the botanical interest of the site was rather upstaged by a very confiding Field Vole who scampered, without a care, among the rucksacks looking for morsels. This new ‘vole-unteer’ appeared to be very happy despite the attention of many camera phones thrust into its vicinity and certainly made for a memorable few minutes of nature appreciation before work resumed.

The sidings are an important fragment of species-rich grassland beside the old railway line, where strip of flower-rich meadow has developed at Hawsker, (near to Northcliffe and Seaview Caravan Park). It is a few miles south of Whitby on the former Scarborough to Whitby Railway route – now a popular permissive bridleway called The Cinder Track.

A small but keen group of volunteers picked up loppers, rakes, bowsaws and hayforks to clear recently mown vegetation and to prune back an encroaching hedgerow which is shading some of the grassland flora. About half the vols were new to conservation volunteering and half had volunteered before with the National Park so it was an ideal mix.

The work party, which continued until around 3pm, involved raking and gathering-up arisings on the fragile ground following a cut with a tractor-mounted mechanical flail by the Council’s Parks Department. Some pruning of the adjacent hedgerow was also carried out to expose parts of the grassland becoming shaded by encroaching hawthorn. Numbers only just made double figures but the groups achieved a great deal, not only gathering up all the hay, but also cutting back some scallop-shaped bays in the hedge line to help the flora and create nice sheltered microclimates for insects such as butterflies.

Another task is planned at the site in mid October – date to be advised. Please do come along – tools, instruction and good company are provided! Please contact to find out more or register interesting this or other tasks on the Cinder Track. We hope to meet plenty more vols (and voles) at subsequent work parties up and down the old railway line.

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Hawsker Sidings – volunteer task on the Cinder Track


This Thursday join staff from North York Moors National Park and Scarborough Borough Council and members of the Whitby Naturalists Society to help manage an important fragment of species-rich grassland beside the old railway line.  A small strip of flower-rich meadow has developed at Hawsker Sidings a few miles south of Whitby on the former Scarborough to Whitby Railway route – now a popular permissive bridleway called The Cinder Track.

On Thursday 13th September, volunteers are invited to come along for the day , or just for the morning if preferred to grab a rake or a pair of loppers and enjoy some good company among fellow nature-lovers. Meet at the car park of the Seaview Caravan Park at 10am, a few minute’s walk from the work site. Over lunch there will be a chance to hear about the botanical interest at the site and news of a soon-to-be-launched volunteering collaboration on the Cinder Track. The work party will continue in the afternoon, for those who wish, finishing by 3pm.  Work will mainly involve raking and gathering up arisings on the fragile ground following a cut with a mechanical flail. Some pruning of encroaching hawthorn bushes will also be carried out.

Please do come along, tools and instruction will be provided – you may like to bring your own work gloves, though spares will be available. Sturdy footwear is advisable and rain gear if the forecast is questionable. Lifts may be available from Whitby. Please contact National Park Senior Ranger Bernie McLinden, Mobile: 07976 292889.

We look forward to seeing you there!