Latest news 

January 2021

It's bad news for biodiversity as the Government has just approved use of a neonicotinoid in sugar beet farming in England.
The emergency application was approved by Secretary of State George Eustice despite a ban on the use of the nature-damaging chemicals across the EU being supported by the same Government in 2018.
As BUWG has previously highlighted here, neonicotinoids are pesticides which cause harm to the environment, with particular concern about their damaging impact on bees.
Campaigners are angry that only days after leaving the EU, the Government has agreed to use an emergency provision within the law to permit neonicotinoid use again.
The Wildlife Trusts organisation has created a petition urging the Prime Minister to overturn the decision. You can sign it here.
Joan Edwards, director of public affairs at the Wildlife Trusts, has saidIt’s absurd that as the UK Government commits to spending £3bn of international climate finance on restoring nature and biodiversity, it is also approving the use of nature-destroying neonicotinoid pesticides here in the UK. The Prime Minister is right to say that we will not achieve our goals on climate change, sustainable development or preventing pandemics if we fail to take care of the natural world that provides us with the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe. But the UK Government cannot claim to be a ‘world-leader’ on protecting and restoring nature whilst supporting the use of these damaging pesticides.”

January 2021

With a 3rd national lockdown, all our usual events have been postponed. But have a look at our Local Events of Interest page for info on some online activities of interest taking place this Spring.

July 2020
A Marbled White butterfly has been spotted in a field near Shipley station.
During Coronvirus lockdown, and in line with government advice, members of BUWG have continued to monitor butterfly species in the area, and the Marbled White was seen on 5 July.

Picture of male Common Blue butterfly at Shipley station butterfly meadow

At Shipley station butterfly meadow, a Common Blue was seen on 6 July (see photo), as well as a Small Tortoiseshell, Ringlet, Red Admiral, Large White and 
many Five-spot Burnet moths (see photo below). 

Picture of 5 Spot Burnet Moths at Shipley Station butterfly meadow


August 2019 

New species for Shipley Station Butterfly Meadow.

The Brown Argus butterfly (Aricia Agestis) has been spotted for the first time ever in the butterfly meadow at Shipley station.

This butterfly is one of few species which is expanding its range as the UK heats up.

Research published by Butterfly Conservation in The State of British Butterflies 2015 shows that the expansion is not simply a response to more heat. The butterfly in its more Northern range has stopped using its traditional caterpillar food plant – Common Rock Rose – in favour of Dove’s Foot Crane’s Bill.
Also, spreading North may render it less vulnerable to wasp predators.

Previous news stories - scroll down to read the full story:

July 2019             Blue butterflies back at Shipley station
Sept 2018            Northcliffe threat - public parks threatened by                               crematorium plans 
August 2018         Heatwave
April 2018            EU bans Neonicotinoid pesticides
                           Brilliant news for pollinators                                                   
March 2018          Is feeding birds harmful?

July 2019
Blues Back
Blue butterflies have been more common in Shipley station meadow this year.

This has been a relief for organising open days.

Over the past several years, bad weather, including the Beast from the East, had meant that no butterflies could be seen. In last year's heatwave, the vegetation was burnt out, and providing neither food nor shelter for butterflies.

This year, at least four pairs of Common Blue butterflies were mating. 

In addition, the meadow supported numerous pairs of Ringlet butterflies.

Squadrons of Five Spot Burnet, a day-flying moth, have been seen at every stage in their life cycle: 
from mating and egg laying, 
to caterpillar and pupating, 
and final emergence as an adult moth. 
The open day was slightly early in the year for Marbled Whites but we expect to see them very soon.


Northcliffe crematorium threat may be lifted
if Councillors accept planning officers recommendation at a meeting of Bradford Council’s executive on January 8.

Traffic issues make  final approval of the site for development unlikely.

While this is good news, it does not affect the other 4 sites including Littlemoor, and does not rule out further attempts to develop Northcliffe.
The Park at Northcliffe, & Littlemoor Park in Queensbury are on the list of possible properties to be the site for a new crematorium.
At Bradford Council’s Regulatory and Appeals Committee meeting held on 19th July 2018 a list of five possible sites for a new crematorium were considered
Two public parks were listed- Northcliffe and Littlemoor - but due to commercial sensitivities 3 sites on private land were not identified.
The committee agreed to conduct feasibility studies on all five sites.
The Friends of Northcliffe are urging protest to stop the scheme before it starts. Please protest this plan by using the Friends petition at:
A paper version of the petition is downloadable from the Friends website.
You can also protest to Mike Priestley, the officer who deals with property held by the council in Trust, and is the link with the Charity Commission
                   Mike Priestley
                   City Hall
                   Bradford BD1 1HY.  .
Mr H N Rae MP, later Sir H Norman Rae MP bought the land, now known as Northcliffe Park, giving them to Shipley Urban District Council to be used as public playing fields. 
A plaque on the main gate records their opening on 12th June 1920,

the gift of Sir H Norman Rae MP,
given as an open space for recreation and benefit of the public, forever.
Norman Rae (or Northcliffe) Playing Fields is a registered charity – charity number 515034  

with its charitable objectives being:

"The lands and woodlands conveyed by the indenture shall  be used at all times hereafter solely and entirely as an open space for the recreation and benefit of the public and for no other purpose whatever and not for the purpose of profit and all income derived from the estate shall be used for the maintenance development or improvement of the estate.”
Similarly Littlemoor Park, Queensbury, property of the Foster family, was given to Bradford Council to be managed as a Charitable Trust.

Deed of gift dated 17th September 1936 
Extract from the Central Register of Charities:


For the purposes of a public park and recreation ground for the benefit and use of the inhabitants of Queensbury and the public,

                                                                                                                             Littlemoor Park woodland
and to be associated with the Silver Jubilee of his late Majesty King George the fifth
and in the memory of the said Herbert Anderton Foster”.
Abusing the trusteeships held by the local authority  by ignoring the expressed wishes of the donors, and of the local population is unacceptable. Please make your feelings known.
July 2018            Heatwave

In early July the 1st  Shipley Brownies, arrived at Denso Marston  Nature Reserve ready for Pond Dipping. 

Unfortunately in all the preparations one thing was missing - the pond!

The Brownies are a dauntless bunch and went on to see dragonflies , a toad and a frog in the reserve.

Denso Marston was not the only location to suffer in the recent heatwave - Brown Trout and Bullheads needed rescue above and below the dry waterfall at Janet’s Foss,  Malham

My garden pond, established for 11 years, saw the water-level  fall by  a centimetre  a day . It has never before suffered so much.

What has been the effect of the heatwave on other species? 

Effects  vary with species, especially in the timing of weather events relative to life cycles.

In early Spring a few weeks of warmth were followed by the Beast from the East bringing snow in April. For the first time Frog spawn was frozen in our pond. Frozen frog spawn can revive when it thaws and carry on with development.

Flowers bloomed and faded in the frost.  This reduced the food available to caterpillars in turn impacting on bird-feeding.

My impression is that, for example, where butterflies did well in the conditions, they did very well,

 Large Whites in groups of 5-6 have been ever present in our garden.

Large White

The Holly Blue is an occasional visitor in most years, but recently has been flying daily, often in pairs. 

Holly Blue  

On the other hand those species which fared badly did very badly. 
Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Red Admiral were seen only in small numbers.

The Station Meadow suffered a lot, becoming completely parched. The Birds-foot Trefoil flowers were bleached white.

Will species recover? For butterflies I hope the Big Butterfly Count will provide data to answer some of these questions.


28 April  2018 The temporary EU ban on the use of neonicotinoids (NNC) has been made permanent in a long awaited decision   

The decision was based on increased scientific evidence of harm to bees, but use of NNC will still be permitted in closed greenhouses. 
When buying potted plants customers are urged to find plants not exposed to nnc, or to grow from  seed.

It is important that the UK continues the ban after Brexit

13 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 Society B.”

The paper summarises the results of 25 years of careful observation, combined with data from bird post-mortem studies. Risks identified were:

·       Birds are close together at feeders.
·       Species which would be separate in nature, meet at feeders.
·       Some feeds are nutritionally poor, producing overweight,               under-nourished birds.
·       stale 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 trichomonosis.
                                                                                                                                                     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.

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