Kirkheaton Bio-Blitz Walk 19th May 2019

Clare Walters writes:

On a mild but overcast Sunday morning 11 of us met at the top of the cemetery to walk around the East side of Kirkheaton and record all the butterflies and birds we saw or heard. The aim was to begin an audit of our wildlife so we know what we have and which are the richest areas in the parish. This means we can then focus our efforts on protecting and enhancing the best bits of the  countryside around our lovely village.

In the cemetery we recorded wrens, blackcaps, blackbirds, a song thrush, gold crests and a chiff chaff.

Along Laneside we complied a similar list, and also saw a chaffinch.

As we walked up Long Tongue Scrogg we heard a Greater Spotted Woodpecker drumming. We then learned a little about the local names from John Taylor, a local historian who was one of our party: Laneside used to be called Bellstrings and Scrogg means marsh. Several of our group reminisced about their childhoods playing in the area. John pointed out the remains of an old pit hidden in the undergrowth. Near the top of Long Tongue Scrogg there are some lovely flower-rich pastures. These are pretty rare these days and are vitally important for our declining insects which in turn act as a food source for our swallows.

There is a lovely wooded ravine at the North end of Laneside quarry. Here we found some woodland flowers including Yellow Archangel, Bluebell, Wood Sorrel and Green Alkanet. Some of the group saw a young tawny owl roosting just yards from the path.

There was a kestrel and two buzzards hunting over the quarry and in the bottom of the clay pit we counted 4 lapwing which are nesting on the bank sides. Also seen was a white throat, swifts and swallows.

Birds seen or heard on the walk from left to right
1st row: lapwing, tawny owl, buzzard & wren    2nd row: white throat, black cap, swift & swallow   3rd row: gold crest, chiff chaff, chaffinch & greater spotted woodpecker
4th row: kestrel, blue tit, greenfinch & goldfinch

The butterfly count was low as the day was rather overcast and cool, but we did see two tortoiseshells, an orange -tip and a common blue.
It was so lovely to take our time and notice the richness of the area. There will be further walks later in the year, and a bat survey at some point which will be advertised on this site. Join us if you can!
Clare, who led the walk, is a local parish councillor, environmentalist and YT volunteer.