Connecting for Nature

A Biodiversity Partnership for Ryedale, Scarborough and the Howardian Hills

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Preventing Crayfish Plague

Invasive Signal Crayfish have now been found at a number of locations on the River Rye; the result of either deliberate release or poor biosecurity measures. These are a threat to our native White-Clawed Crayfish. With this in mind Duncan Fyfe, EA Catchment Coordinator reminds all who have an interest in the wider water environment – be it flood risk and land drainage, fishing or ecology –  of the importance of taking biosecurity very seriously.  

Failure to do so can result in rapid and widespread ‘invasions’ of a host of unwanted plant and animal species that can have a devastating impact not only upon native wildlife but upon flood risk too. Invasive Non Native Species (INNS) such as Himalayan Balsam will out compete native plant species and when they die back in the winter they leave bare ground, exposing river banks, streams and ditches to erosion. The Environment Agency and Natural England have been working with the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and East Yorkshire Rivers Trust through the Derwent Restoration Project to map the extent of INNS problem on the Derwent and develop an action plan to control the spread.

Signal crayfish are not as immediately visible as Himalayan Balsam but the potential impacts are no less real and are serious for both ecology and flood risk. Until very recently the only known and established population on the Derwent was on Settrington Beck. However, they have now been found at a number of locations including the Seph and Riccal.

Signal Crayfish represent a very real threat to our native White–Clawed Crayfish – a protected species that is declining in this country. However, many rivers and streams in Yorkshire still contain good populations of White-Clawed Crayfish which is why its important to protect them. The invasive Signal Crayfish, introduced from North America are a larger, more aggressive species which outcompetes our native crayfish and can impact upon the wider food chain. Once established they may burrow into the banks of ditches, streams and rivers exacerbating erosion and bank collapse. They also carry a plague, caused by a water mould which is fatal to White-Clawed Crayfish.

Crayfish plague can be transferred between rivers by equipment and clothing if you enter the water. However, there are things that you can do to stop the spread of crayfish plague by taking appropriate biosecurity measures. All who work outdoors on the Derwent should be doing this as a matter of routine.

Biosecurity Measures to prevent spread of Crayfish Plague and other INNS.

The mantra is Check, Clean, Dry!

  • It is good practice to do a visual check of all machinery, equioment and clothing, such as waders before you leave the site – Signal Crayfish have been known to cling to machines. Himalayan Balsam or other invasive plants can be carried off site too in the tracks of machinery
  • A disinfectant may be used to clean kit, alternatively ensure nets, and all equipment is allowed to completely dry before putting into another watercourse.


Leeds University has developed a free on line training tool on biosecurity training which is available on the Leeds university website:



I have also attached a fact sheet on the Signal Crayfish and there is a link below to the Non Native Species website that has in turn lots of information about the Check Clean Dry Campaign and the whole host of other invasive species we need to be mindful of.                                  


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Bioblitz events

You may have heard on social media about broadcaster Chris Packham’s “Bioblitz 2018 – Nature reserves are not enough!” campaign. His mission is to harness citizen science to monitor the state of biodiversity across the UK. Chris and his team are visiting 50 UK sites over ten days. More detail of the whole campaign and the itinerary may be found on Chris Packham’s website:

The objective of a bioblitz is to record as many species as possible (usually within a set time, such as 24hours). Everyone is welcome regardless of experience and experts will be on hand to help. There are three stops in Yorkshire, which you may be able to support. Two are within easy striking distance of the Connecting for Nature patch.

On Wednesday 18th July Filey Bird Observatory and Group (FBOG) is playing host. More details are described on a post on the FBOG website here. All enquires can be directed to Mark Pearson, Comms. Officer for FBOG, who will update the page with more event details as they are confirmed but the line-up is already impressive, including bird ringing, cetacean watches, bat walk, moth trapping, botanising, seashore hunts and even storm petrel ringing (after dark on Tues night) The main public engagement events will be based out of Filey Country Park on the afternoon of Weds 19th. There is even a Bioblitz Bingo for kids! It is hoped the Chris Packham will be able to visit Weds tea-time, but his schedule is tentative. Keep an eye on the FBOG Filey Bioblitz event listing for updates to the details.


On Thursday 19th July Chris Packham and the UK Bioblitz Team will be visiting Nosterfield Nature Reserve nr Ripon (grid ref SE 278 795). Chris is expected to visit only briefly during the morning but the Nosterfield Bioblitz actually commences at 5pm on Weds 18th July and runs until 5pm Thursday. Moth traps with be running overnight and presumably keen naturalists will be out at first light. The YNU will be represented there too. See their post about the Nosterfield Bioblitz.

Staff from North East Yorkshire Ecological Data Centre (NEYEDC) are coordinating the collation of records and training people in iRecord, a self-service biological recording website and app, at their base camp from the Nosterfield Quarry Visitor Centre. Records from the Bioblitz will go straight onto a dedicated database.

According to Chris Packham’s website they will also be visiting RSPB Fairburn Ings in West Yorkshire on Thursday 19th July. A link I’ve found to the Fairburn event here, indicates it will be on from 10am-4pm. The RSPB’s reserve info page has details of facilities and entrance fees for Fairburn Ings.


13.07.12 Wyedale verges 2 Burnet moths on vetch

Moths and Butterflies, like these Six Spot Burnet moths are among the many groups of plants, animals, fungi etc which may be recorded on iRecord, the app often used by Bioblitzers.



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Marine Invaders!


A marine invaders spotter sheet – this one is for Wakame seaweed

In September 2017 the Capturing Our Coast project (funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund) launched a new campaign called ‘Marine Invaders’ with the aim of engaging a national cohort of citizen scientists to determine the national distribution of a suite of marine non-native species (NNS). Marine Invaders is an ongoing campaign that can be adopted by anyone with an interest in the marine environment or NNS. Survey protocols and identification guides have been produced and are freely downloadable (from so no formal training is required. Citizen scientists can choose from three habitats in which to survey: rocky intertidal, sandy shores or artificial structures.
The Yorkshire Coast is an important region to examine for the presence of NNS as, on the whole, this area is considered to be relatively pristine. Located where two North Sea circulation cells meet, the area around Flamborough Head provides a plentiful food supply due to the upwelling of plankton and nutrients, a feature termed the ‘Flamborough Front’. The marked difference in water temperature of these two cells also defines the northern and southern limits of many species. For this reason, the Flamborough Front also acts as an invisible barrier to some NNS migrating north.
On the Yorkshire Coast there are relatively few NNS compared to the rest of the UK and especially the south coast. Confirmed NNS records include algae, crustaceans and sea squirts. The Australasian barnacle (Austrominius modestus) is one species whose numbers appear to be on the rise across the Yorkshire Coast. This species competes with the native Northern Rock Barnacle (Semibalanus balanoides) and can tolerate higher temperatures, turbidity and lower salinity levels.

During the ‘Beast from the East’ several live Slipper limpets (Crepidula fornicata) were washed ashore at Barmston. Introduced from the United States, this species has the potential to physically alter the seabed habitat. Previous records for Slipper Limpets had their most northerly distribution as Spurn Point however the recent wash-up could indicate that there are established populations offshore north of this.

The Orange-tipped sea squirt (Corella eumyota) which originates from the Southern Hemisphere has also been found on several Yorkshire shores from Runswick Bay to Filey Brigg. Found on the underside of boulders or hard surfaces, this species can smother other animals in the vicinity and fouls the hulls of ships.

Non-native species of algae on the Yorkshire Coast include Wakame (Undaria pinnatifida), a species of kelp considered one of the world’s 100 worst invasive species. This is now well established in the Humber Estuary and outcompetes our native kelp species. Wireweed (Sargassum muticum) is a brown alga from Japan. The majority of UK species records for algae are from the south and west coasts, however in 2017 there was a confirmed report of wireweed found attached at Newcastle. With such close proximity to the Yorkshire Coast, this is one species that we could start to see appearing in our rock pools in the not so distant future.

Many of the initial marine NNS introductions are thought to have occurred in ports and harbours although some introductions have occurred through the transportation of other species such as oyster. Biosecurity is important to help stop the spread of NNS. Even people on the shore or coastline can be potential vectors, but three simple steps can help reduce the risk of this happening:

1. Check your clothing, boots and equipment for signs of living organisms.

2. Clean and wash everything (with hot water where possible) and if you do find any organisms leave them in the water where you found them.

3. Lastly fully dry all of your equipment, clothing and footwear.

Through the Marine Invaders campaign, over 420 individual 10-minute timed species searches have been conducted by citizen scientists around the country, producing over 45 confirmed NNS sightings. This work contributes to that of the Great Britain Non-native Species Secretariat (GBNNSS) in tackling one of the world’s top four greatest threats to our oceans. You can join the campaign too by visiting the project website ( or by contacting the CoCoast Yorkshire team ( – the more ‘eyes on the ground’ the more habitats we can monitor!

Nicky Dobson University of Hull.

The text of this article first appeared in Yorkshire Naturalists Union News Brief April 2018.

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A note about Communications

Hopefully readers will be aware that our most frequent means of regular communication with our Connecting for Nature supporters is via a dedicated Facebook group. It is a public group, meaning that anyone may request to join it and keep up to date with biodiversity happenings in Ryedale, Scarborough, Howardian Hills and adjacent areas.

If you use Facebook please join up and more importantly share our Facebook Group with others who may appreciate it. The group address is

We also have a twitter account @CFNature and an Instagram account @ConnectingforNature but they are less active as I have limited time to spend on these. Twitter is a bit ad hoc, but Instagram I try to post on average once per week and usually manage this.

The Facebook Group enables everyone to contribute and we warmly encourage this. Regular news and updates or even just nice nature photos now and then will be very welcome. If you are involved with an another nature or conservation group, please do ‘share’ your group or page with the Connecting for Nature group, (and vice versa) and post on it from time to time.

Connecting for Nature covers both Ryedale and Scarborough together with the Howardian Hills. Areas within the North York Moors National Park are subject to their own Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) but in practice we are more of a forum for bringing together local groups with a conservation interest to share ideas, inspiration, events, ask questions, find people with expertise etc. so the geography is not so exclusive.

I aim to get more community nature projects and local groups featured on this blog/website but day to day priorities do get in the way! In an ideal world I’d like to have new post every month but I get round to it when I can. Another aspiration is to compile an email update two or three times a year, using Mailchimp to send to our network. Any contributions about local groups or projects are always welcome. If you are not yet on the mailing list, use this link to sign-up: CFN mailing list

Another thing you could do if you choose is to subscribe to this blog, that way, each time I publish a new post, you get an email to alert you. Be advised this is usually considerably less than once a month, unless I have a backlog of things to put on!

Tim Burkinshaw, June 2018.


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Cutting Edge Conservation


Free training courses next week near Ripon on grassland conservation for biodiversity. A fantastic opportunity for anyone who can make it.

Cutting Edge Conservation is a week dedicated to creating your own meadowlands in the heart of North Yorkshire. Based in the award-winning conservation area at St John’s, Sharow, the week is for anyone, from those with a garden through to those in charge of a churchyard! The church has benefitted recently from a major restoration grant from HLF and as part of this the churchyard, rich in biodiversity is being used as a training ground for workshops and talks and demonstrations on managing meadows to enhance flora and fauna.

For details of all the events and how to book follow this link:

Given that this is only days away and there are still free places I am giving further details here. The courses are:

Monday 11th June, ‘Caring for God’s Acre‘ sharing insights and experiences with enhancing churchyards and meadow grasslands for wildlife.

Tuesday 12th, ‘Managing for Biodiversity‘ with expert ecologists to advise on the species which can benefit.

Tuesday 12th evening, a ‘Bat Talk and Walk’ with John Drewett of North Yorkshire Bat Group. “Get to know some of our fascinating nocturnal species with a talk from John Drewett, Chair of North Yorkshire Bat Group. We will then take to the churchyard to see if we can use our new-found knowledge to find some bats for ourselves!”

Thursday 14th am ‘National Moth Day, Moth Release‘ “Join Dr Charles Fletcher as we release the results of the previous night’s moth trap and discover the kinds of species we support.”

Thursday 14th,one-day ‘Scything Workshop‘ with a nationally renowned expert. “Join Steve Tomlin for a day learning about the humble scythe, the conservation tool making a big comeback across the world.” (Spaces limited for workshops but a free evening talk on scything has been arranged to accommodate a larger number of people.)

Thursday 14th evg, free evening talk on scything available for all.

On Friday 15th ‘Spring Flower Hay-Making and Hand Baling’ “Putting into practice all we’ve learnt over the week. See the scythes at work and enjoy traditional crafts across the churchyard.”


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World Oceans Day

Support_World_Ocean_DaySaturday 8th June is World Oceans Day.

This post appeared as a Thunderclap Campaign by the Marine Conservation Society, which we are sharing so that you may support it too.

The 2017 Great British Beach Clean highlighted that 8.5% of debris found on the beach was related to what we flush down the toilet. Considering that over 255,000 pieces of litter were collected in just 1 weekend as part of the MCS survey that equals over 20,000 items incorrectly being flushed down the toilet. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The majority of items incorrectly flushed down the toilet are caught by filters at the waste waster treatment plants; the recorded items found on the beach survey are those which are either too small for the filters or are the result of a sewage overflow after heavy rain. These numbers suggest that 1000’s of people are incorrectly flushing plastics down the toilet every day. So, what types of plastics are being flushed? Below are a list of commonly flushed items, all of which are made of plastic or contain plastic fibres.  Many of these are found by beach clean volunteers washed up on our beaches:

·         Cotton bud sticks

·         Wet wipes

·         Tampon applicators

·         Sanitary towels

·         Nappies

To celebrate World Oceans Day on June 8th we’re working with partners across the UK to raise awareness about this source of plastic pollution and asking everyone to take a stand against plastic pollution and #binit4beaches instead. Will you take the pledge to flush only the 3P’s; pee, poo and (toilet) paper?

Join our Thunderclap to show your support and help reduce Plastic Pollution in our oceans today!

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Helmsley Swifts

swift box

As part of UK Swift Awareness Week, the Helmsley Swifts group is holding  a free evening event at All Saints Church, Helmsley on 21st June.  “A Midsummer Swift Eve” will commence from 7.30pm. There will be a short presentation, followed by walk around the town to look at Swifts, Swallows and House Martins. Light refreshments will be offered. You may also like to Follow @HelmsleySwifts on twitter. An article on the Visit Helmsley website is also very useful on the origin and aims of the Helmsley Swifts group.