March 2018 Is feeding birds harmful?
10th May 2017 Planning application to develop
Milner Field Farm WITHDRAWN
March 2017 Milner Field Farm at risk
February 2017 More Station wildlife areas to come
January 2017 Death of Mari Friend
November 2016 Salmon expected to return to River Aire in Saltaire
September 2016 Sty Lane -Hammer Blow
Bradford Beck trail unveiled
State of Nature 2016 published
August 2016 Marbled White
March 2016 First results from big garden
August 2015 Parks
Milner Fields farm, Gilstead
Shipley town centre development
March 2015 Something for nothing - Low Moor
Caring for bats
January 2015 - Badgers bring funds
National pollinator strategy
July 2014 - Butterfly news - Marbled
Whites in Shipley
Help needed - Eldwick Oaks eaten
March 2014 - Plans for Shipley Town
December 2013 - End of autumn
Hirst Wood regeneration
Prince of Wales Park
November 2013 - St Ives news
13th March 2018 Is our bird-feeding harming birds?
We spend about £200 million each year feeding garden
birds. Around 48% of households put out food.
For the most part this is beneficial for us, and for the
birds we feed, but there is a downside. The possible harms are revealed in a
newly published article in the journal “Philosophical Transactions of the Royal
summarises the results of 25 years of careful observation, combined with data
from bird post-mortem studies. Risks identified were:
are close together at feeders.
which would be separate in nature, meet at feeders.
feeds are nutritionally poor, producing overweight, under-nourished birds.
food, food waste and droppings build up at feeders.
This means diseases can spread further and faster, and
disease control is less effective.
Some bird species are at particular risk. Greenfinches
come in for special mention in the research. The Greenfinch population has
fallen drastically, coinciding with the spread of a disease called Finch
greenfinch at feeder
Another risk of harm is exposure to predators. Predators
such as sparrow-hawks can access feeding birds more easily.
Should we stop feeding birds?
Simple measures can reduce the possible harms. Stopping
feeding would lead to problems for the birds dependant on us.
The researchers recommend reducing harm by feeding a
variety of feeds, bought from approved makers, only putting out enough food for
2-3 days, and washing feeders before refilling. Washing should be done outdoors
using a bucket of soapy water, and feeders should be dried before use.
The UK's favourite Nature book has been announced
FIRST Fingers in the Sparkle Jar by Chris Packham
SECOND Tarka the Otter by Henry Williamson
THIRD Common Ground by Rob Cowen
10th May 2017 - Planning application to develop
Milner Field Farm WITHDRAWN
Milner Field Farm was built as a model
farm in~1872 on the instructions of Titus Salt jnr. who lived in the nearby Milner
Field, a large mansion set within its own grounds.
The house was demolished in 1952 and
little now remains. The Farm has been continually worked by tenant farmers. It
has been home to the current family of farmers, the Downs, for 114 years.
Robert Marnock, one of the outstanding
English horticulturalists and garden designers of the 19th century was involved
in the design of the Estate
The boundary of the Farm and many
landscape features remain as they were in ~1872.
The Estate has close historical and
geographical links to World Heritage Saltaire. It sits within the buffer zone
of the World Heritage site. Local historians regard it as the single most
important link to Saltaire and its founding family within that zone.
There is no formal public right of way
through Milner Field estate, but it is used extensively by the public.
The farm produces milk some of which
is sold locally.
The estate including the farm, is
owned by the Hartley Property Group and they have applied to develop an “Innovations
Centre” on the land.
The use of the land is constrained by
the terms of the agricultural tenancy,
which provides some security to the tenants, and the fact that it is dedicated
Where the idea to build an “Innovation
Centre” is unclear. If the bid is successful the tenancy would be broken leaving
the Downs with no home or livelihood. Farming would end, and the greenbelt
status would be lost.
Local support for the farm is huge,
and BUWG has joined in voicing opposition to the bid.
Perhaps surprised by the level of support,
the bid has been revised to include “green”
development of the estate. Given that the core of the bid was not ecological we
continue to oppose the bid.
Forster Square Station to get Wildlife Area?
Forster Square Station, and possibly Frizinghall Station, have the potential for development of wildlife areas.
On Friday December 9, on behalf of BUWG, Susan met with Tom Jones, a Senior Transport Officer from the Council, to discuss next steps at Forster Square.
We will look in more detail at the site, possibly in June 2017, to see what may be possible in future.
It is with great sadness that we learnt of the death of Mari Friend at age 80.
With her husband John, she founded Bracken Hall Countryside centre, where she inspired a love of the natural world in many visitors.
She saw the wonder in small things , and captured it in her drawings and publications.
We miss her.
Her husband John writes:
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/dec/23/mari-friend-obituary24th November 2016
November 2016 - Salmon expected to return to River Aire in Saltaire
"The end of the beginning" of efforts to return salmon spawning to the upper reaches of the River Aire was the assessment of Kevin Sunderland,trustee & former chair of the Aire Rivers Trust on the formation of the Trust in 2011. Kevin reviewed progress made in the 5 years since his last report to BUWG.
Water quality of the Aire, poor since tanneries began dischargIng
waste into the river in Medieval times, is now good.
The end of industry and the improvement of sewage treatment are major factors contributing to this change.
In the last 5 years most of the biggest barriers to fish movement between the sea and Saltaire have been reduced or removed.
Work is still ongoing, and funding is still required to remove some of the remaining weirs, but salmon are expected to be found around Bradford in the summer/ autumn of 2017.
25th September 2016 - Initial Planning Permission has been granted for the Sty Lane site.
The permission only allows for removal and re-siting of the swing bridge, but this work will make accessible the land on which more than 400 houses are to be built.
BUWG has long opposed the development which will remove land from the greenbelt, damage habitats, and harm the landscape adjacent to the 5-rise locks.
Greenhill Action Group(GAG) is looking for ways to overturn the permission.
25th September 2016 - Unveiling of Bradford Beck Trail.
1 pm - 4.30 pm Water themed activities in City Square.
September 2016 State of Nature 2016
More than 50 wildlife organisations shared data and resources to present a detailed picture of the state of nature in Britain.While there were some positive reasons to be cheerful, the overall picture was of fragmentation of, and loss of, habitat.
The major cause of decline was intensification of agriculture, planned and subsidised by Government
The sowing season has changed from Spring to Autumn
There is increased exposure to agricultural chemicals – fertilisers, herbicides, and pesticides
Ponds and hedges have been lost
Climate change was expected to be the major future risk.
Urban wildlife was given special mention, both as an area of concern, and as an area of possible improvement.
Development of brownfield sites squeezes out space for wildlife, non-native invasive species often are first seen in urban settings, and gardens are getting smaller.
Deliberate planning of verges, green areas, and gardens can create new habitat and link existing wildlife areas.
The report cites provision of through routes for foraging hedgehogs, and a Bristol project aimed at changing ordinary streets into wildlife corridors as evidence that decline can be reversed
See the full report -http://www.rspb.org.uk/Images/State%20of%20Nature%20UK%20report%20pages_1%20Sept_tcm9-424984.pdf
August 2016 - Marbled White butterfly colony in Shipley.
Since 2012 marbled white butterflies have been seen near Shipley station. This year on our walk 5 were seen. This established colony needs conservation.
First results from big garden birdwatch 2016 LINK
Parks and gardens
In July, Bradford Council announced it was stopping funding for floral,
displays and closing the Peel Park greenhouse.
The campaign to continue with floral displays received support from Alan
Titchmarsh, who began his career working as a council gardener in Ilkley.
The council suggests that a different approach, with low-maintenance
planting,is better for wildlife. This of course depends on what precise
wildlife is to be supported, and what sort of habitat you are seeking to
Shipley town manager
A further blow in Bradford Council’s cost-cutting has been the loss of
the Shipley town manager. Yvonne Crossley has been a supporter of Shipley
Station wildlife meadow, and ran Shipley in Bloom.
We wish her every success in the future and are sorry to lose her.
On the verge
Visit their website to find out more, and to join the campaign.
Getting something from nothing.
What happens if you leave Nature to its own devices? At the AGM of BUWG
Martin Priestley reported the evolution of a species-rich “new” site for
wildlife at Low Moor which has developed from a bare, brownfield site. The site
now needs official recognition to protect it.
In the 1980s Martin visited the Low Moor tip. Gulls were attracted to
the tip and so it was possible to spot several species.
The tip was eventually covered & left, regenerating itself. Much of
the site has developed into meadowland, with some patches of young trees (15-20
years old). Martin has counted 60 species of plants and grasses, but feels many
more would be found by more expert eyes.
The whole area was fenced off, but now has access points.
The new site is probably a continuation, southwest of the existing Low
Moor site 1.5 miles away, of an urban migration route from North East to South
Some years ago Martin found a Common White Throat at the site in
June. That autumn Lesser White Throat passed through South Bradford. One was
seen in Raw Nook and at the same time another was spotted at the tip site,
supporting the suggestion of a wildlife corridor.
A local group held a meeting to discuss their plan for a new greenway
through the tip site, to join up with an existing route in Cleckheaton.
They also wanted to establish new wildlife habitats.
Martin was asked to help, and decided to do a monthly wildlife report on
the new site. He started recording in June and had been on site for 5 minutes
when he saw two small heath butterflies, rare in Raw Nook. Over time he started
to see more and more common blue butterflies. He found 43 males in one area
constituting a confirmed colony. In all 11 different species of butterfly have
been reported, together with several species of day-flying moth.
Unfortunately there is no water on the main part of the site - a single
Brown Hawker dragonfly is the only one recorded.
In Sept after 9 visits Martin filed a report which he felt gave an idea
of what is on the site, but he believes there is plenty more to record.
Horses on the site were an issue & the council agreed to fence off
the common blue site, but went on to put the fence some distance away from the
In Oct 2013, with Bradford council backing, the site was officially
opened. An article in Butterfly Conservation magazine “Argus” praised the
A visit by BUWG was late in year and so didn't see much, but could see
the potential of the site. We will arrange to revisit in summer. Keep an eye on
the website for details.
Members are urged to help build up a database of what they see there -
make a list of sightings and let Martin know.
The aim is to make it an official local wildlife site, which will
protect it. Railway Terrace not far away is Bradford's first Local Nature
Reserve (LNR - proper title, arranged by council, protected by government).
The site is off Dealburn Road, directly opposite Low Moor
It is open to public - as you walk up main path there are side paths
which are good for exploring!
Caring for Bats
Every year volunteers across West Yorkshire rescue hundreds of injured
bats, care for them and return most to the wild.
Injured pipistrelle bat
- small tear in wing
- cold and wet
With the right care this one survived.
The West Yorkshire Bat Group is looking for volunteer bat carers.
For more information please contact Maggie
Badgers bring funds.
BUWG funds have been increased by the transfer of monies left in the
account of Bradford Badger Group after the Group’s demise.
This is thanks to the efforts of Peter Britton, who supported the move.
We know Peter would like some of the money to be used to support
projects involving badgers and we will try to do this.
National pollinator strategy:
for bees and other pollinators in England
This new plan for pollinators has been set out by the Secretary of State
for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Elizabeth Truss. She has asked for
people to let their lawns grow and provide more flowers to feed bees. She has
drawn together a variety of organisations - Network Rail, the Highways Agency
and the National Trust - to pledge planting of bee-friendly flowers.
The strategy doesn’t mention pesticides. Neonicotinoids have received
publicity recently for their probable damaging effect on bees and their nests.
Meanwhile you can see, study and download the strategy, and supporting
July 2014 - Your Help Needed!
At the end of May, in poor weather, a hardy group from BUWG visited the
Prince of Wales Park in Eldwick.
The lower end of the Park, including several mature oak trees, seemed
fine. The top of the Park is scrubland with heather, bracken, bilberry, and
encroaching young oaks.
Many of these trees were severely defoliated - branches were covered in
small web tents studded with frass, suggesting caterpillar damage.
Autumn – my last butterfly and Shipley in Bloom.
The leaves were still on the trees at the end of October and, as I
write, the leaves were only dropping off most of the woodland areas at the end
My last butterfly sighting of importance was a female Common
Blue in the large field outside Shipley Station on September 23
The results from the ‘Shipley in Bloom’ judges were as follows.
Under Areas of Achievement – “The Butterfly Meadow
near the railway station is most unusual, attractive and effective. Glad
to hear of co-operation with the railway company and other bodies.”
Shipley again received a Silver award.
Hirst Wood Bogland (near Hirst Wood Locks)
As mentioned in our September newsletter, ‘BEES’ (Bradford Environmental
Education Service) has produced a document detailing the future management of
this small area for Nature Conservation. We understand they have already
started work on the site.
Sty Lane Update
As mentioned in the last newsletter, the developers have again appealed
to the Secretary of State to review his position. In the meantime the
developers produced another plan to display to the public. (I’m sure
nobody will support them.) In the T&A for December 2 2013 a heading ‘Make
site no-go plea over development’ “Bradford Council has been urged to
reverse the status of a green field site allocated for housing in Bingley to end once and for all a long
and costly battle between residents and developers.” The Greenhill Action Group
(GAG) has sent a letter to representatives of the Council asking for the land
to be taken off the housing list. The Council says legally it is not
allowed to do this. The future of Sty Lane is still in doubt.
Results of the latest appeal are pending.
Manywells and Orchid Site, Cullingworth.
On September 20 we were involved with a site visit to Manywells with Mark
Woods, ecologist, and Steve McBurney from the Manywells
Development Company and members of the Cullingworth Village Council to look at
an area above the existing orchid site. where Mark wants to move the bee
orchids (and will include the species of Common Blue Butterflies also).
The reason for this suggested move is that Manywells Developers would
like to build extra houses on the existing orchid
site. Mark thinks the existing site will deteriorate, especially with the
To give Mark his due, he has had experience of moving plants (and
butterflies) before and knows his ‘stuff’. The latest technology will be
used to dig out a huge area containing Bee Orchids, and Common Blues larvae
over winter. A 2 foot deep slice of land will be transferred to the new site,
which will be prepared and dug out to receive the orchids.
We are concerned for the loss of the original habitat, and our stance at
the moment is that a small section of orchids (Common spotted) should be moved
as a ‘trial piece’ and we should have both sites, since Mark
did discover 2 blues on the ‘new’ site when the sun came out!
A planning application has not yet been submitted to the council (early
We attended an open evening on October 23 at Cullingworth Village Hall
when the orchid site was discussed. There is time to make a decision
since it would be a few years before the orchid site would be built on. The
buildings surrounding the area would be built first.The decision is pending.
Friends of the Prince of Wales Park
During September Alan Mirfield gave us the talk about the park. We have
to praise all the hard work done on the park to open up the views, clear the
path and steps and to clear the quarry area back to the existing stones.
Already simple plant fossils have been found on some of the stones and
an old fossilised tree trunk on the far end of the quarry was
As reported in the September newsletter, bracken was pulled up over the
summer, but also permission was given to spray and remove oak saplings
due to come into leaf, stopping the light to the bilberries.
The saplings were successfully removed during November, and the very
small ‘Christmas trees’ were also removed and given out to the public to take.
As the wildlife lead I am concerned for the future of the woodland near
the top entrance which is part of the Wildlife Area. The wildlife
sub-committee do not want it cleared, tidied up and opened up, as it is a
valuable "natural" area important for wildlife, and not a garden.
Friends of Bracken Hall Countryside Centre - update
We hope that early in 2014 we get positive news for the future of
Bracken Hall that will include a public access, information and education role.
The Friends group, under the Chairmanship of John Dallas, has continued
to promote the Centre through a programme of activities while Baildon Town
Council has been attempting to negotiate with Bradford Council.
It has been somewhat frustrating for us as there has seemed to be a lull
with no real information forthcoming for the last several weeks, since the good
news that Bracken Hall had been registered as ‘an asset of community value’
giving a bit of breathing space for Baildon Town Council to put together a
We have made good links with Baildon through the Council, Neighbourhood
Forum, Baildon Children’s Centre, Local History Group, Shipley Glen Tramway,
‘Walkers are Welcome’ and the Old Glen House Tearooms – all of which should be
a help if we get back in to Bracken Hall.
We have also been able to talk to members of the public on the Glen.
Our understanding (December 2013) is that Baildon Town Council and other
interested parties are in discussions about a multi-use solution for Bracken
There is likely to be some commercial activity with scope for volunteers
and groups to provide facilities and activities in Shipley Glen to promote
Bradford’s countryside, wildlife, history ...
I am sure that some detail will soon be made public – via the Baildon
Town Council website and the T&A. Then the work will start!
Thanks to all who have supported us this year. New members always
welcome –just £1 to join!
Friends of Bracken Hall Countryside Centre
What a difference a friend makes …
The Friends of St Ives shared three areas of their work with members of
BUWG at its October meeting. Susan Hart and Kath Gabbitas, of the Friends
group, outlined some of the group’s successes.
These included attracting funding of more than £250,000, opening and
staffing the visitors’ centre on the estate, and organising a programme of
walks and talks.
The Friends group was formed ten years ago with the aim of protecting
and preserving the estate.
The group also contributed to the popular playground at St Ives, which
attracts children who also enjoy the walks and wildlife to be seen in the
Some of the walks, such as the fungus foray, bring in large numbers of
Organised history walks around the estate offer the chance to find out
more about its history, including the story of the Jacobean house which was
sited in the grounds of what is now the nursing home to the sale of the estate
to what was then Bingley Council for the grand sum of £39,000, back in
Regular visitors to St Ives might be surprised to learn that a coppice
pond was once the major water supply for the town of Bingley, that 13 farms and
two fulling mills were once sited on the area and that in the 12th century,
land was granted to Rievaulx Abbey in exchange for prayer.
Recent innovations include a herb garden themed in keeping with the
historic estate, with areas which are related to textile dying and medicinal
herbs, for example.
The visitors’ centre is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 11am until
3pm, staffed by volunteers, and leaflets available include one on the ponds and
watergardens formerly found on the estate.
The Friends group is actively involved in attracting wildlife to the
area and displayed an impressive range of photos capturing some of the beauty
of the estate and its flora and fauna.