Connecting for Nature

Keeping Yorkshire folk in touch with their local biodiversity news


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South Cliff Gardens Vacancy

South Cliff Gdns websiteAn exciting vacancy has arisen for a Community Engagement Officer to join the Parks for People “Saving South Cliff Gardens” National Lottery Heritage Fund project.

Scarborough Borough Council received a Stage 2 pass from the National Lottery Heritage Fund in April 2019 and has been awarded a Delivery grant to restore the gardens on the steep hillside above the seaside town’s South Bay. For the right person this job is a prime opportunity to implement ambitious aspirations for revitalising the iconic coastal green space.
The main duties of the posts will be to co-ordinate, develop, manage and deliver the Parks for People project activity plan at the South Cliff Gardens, Scarborough. The post-holder will develop a creative and annual program of exciting events and activities within the Gardens to engage with a wide range of audiences. Central to the role is to co-ordinate the recruitment and leadership of volunteers, to create an environment where everyone is welcome and to address barriers for involvement in the gardens and the Park’s activities. The Community Engagement Officer will need the experience to mentor existing volunteers, support and encourage their personal development keep them engaged in meaningful activities.

It is anticipated that this will be a 4.5 year project with a fixed term contract. Salary: £24,313 – £26,317 per annum. Post to commence 7 October 2019 to 31 March 2024. 
For more information and to apply online, go to https://www.scarborough.gov.uk/jobs

You may also wish to visit the website and blog for the Saving South Cliff Gardens project.

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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 Isabel.gilbert@nationaltrust.org.uk  (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

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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: www.hedgehogstreet.org/hempguide
  • 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: www.hedgehogstreet.org/development


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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 volunteers@northyorkmoors.org.uk 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: http://whitbynaturalists.co.uk/files/buckthorn_for_brimstones_project_sheet.pdf

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


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Conservation Task at former station

Clearing vegetation revealed the original platform edge of the station which last saw trains in 1965

In early December a small team of volunteers known as ‘The Cinders’ met up to carry out conservation work at an old station near Robin Hoods Bay.

Fyling Hall Station was one of the stops on the former railway line between Scarborough and Whitby, which is now a popular walking and riding route for local people and visitors alike. The Old Railway Line, as it is known locally was branded ‘The Cinder Track’ a few years ago in a nod to its original surfacing material.

The work party originates from a new partnership between the North York Moors National Park and Scarborough Borough Council to encourage conservation volunteering along the 21.5 mile route. A key objective of the collaboration is to harness the successful volunteering formula developed by the National Park and target the restoration of the most valuable habitats along the old railway track. The initiative will focus efforts on the patches of trackside land with botanical or other species interest, such as wildflower rich grassland that has suffered from lack of management. The new volunteer group will be deployed at the very best sites along the Cinder Track for flora and fauna and will return annually to manage specific sites where the habitats need a little extra conservation effort to restore their botanical potential.

Tools and instruction are provided. Volunteers provide the muscle.

With the National Park having so many successful volunteering groups already thriving, the Borough Council is really excited to launch this joint initiative. A great deal of interest and passion for the Cinder Track was demonstrated by local people as a result of recent consultations on a restoration plan. The Cinders task programme offers a brand new opportunity for local people to volunteer to improve their much-loved route.

This month’s work focussed on the old platforms lying adjacent to the Cinder Track permissive bridleway. They had become so overgrown that people could walk right past without recognising their former purpose. The verges at the old station are also a habitat for a scarce type of orchid called the Broad-Leaved Helleborine, but have become colonized by brambles in recent years, so work also focussed on improving habitat for this botanical interest too.

By training as a Task Day Leader you could help to run one of the future Cinders tasks

Eight volunteers cleared a pathway along the old track bed so that people can see and appreciate the platform structure. They also carried out vegetation management for ground flora. It was particularly pleasing to see Broad Leaved Helleborine bearing seed and Sweet Woodruff as well as violets among the wildflowers waiting to capitalise upon the newly cleared areas.

The platform itself is now more visible and more accessible, with a walking path along the old track bed where trains once pulled up. A little more clearance work is needed to make it possible to walk along the top of the old platform but we tried to strike a balance between opening the site up and retaining the overgrown, ivy-clad charm. Who knows, maybe next spring we shall see more Helleborines at the station?

The station platform in summer 2018, illustrates how overgrown it had become

There are openings for more volunteers to join the group as well as for those with previous experience to train as volunteer ‘task day leaders’ (Free training organised by the National Park). The next task will be early in the new year. Feel free to come along and give it a try. There is no obligation to attend regularly, though we hope you want to. The only requirement is to bring a packed lunch and some old clothes and sensible footwear. All instruction and tools are provided as well as fresh air, good company and a little ecological insight about the species we are helping to benefit thrown into the bargain.

An old mattock head was found half-buried on the platform.

Interested volunteers are invited to register with the North York Moors National Park volunteers service, so that they can be notified of future tasks and receive their personal login for the My Volunteer portal. Email the volunteering team at the National Park on volunteers@northyorkmoors.org.uk.

The benefit of registering is that ‘My Volunteer’ alerts you to further opportunities as soon as they are posted on the system, both for the Cinder Track and across the National Park. 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.


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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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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 www.capturingourcoast.co.uk) 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 (https://www.capturingourcoast.co.uk/) or by contacting the CoCoast Yorkshire team (cocoast@hull.ac.uk) – 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.