From the Undergrowth: The birds are saying farewell...

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Autumn migration is in full swing and all are feeding up ready for leaving our shores with good numbers of Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Whitethroat and Willow Warblers on the reserve and all the resident species such as Goldfinch are in good numbers, indicating a very good breeding season. August 29 turned up a Spotted Flycatcher and the 30th a Common Tern passing through.

Around Calderdale, Ringstone Reservoir has had three Little Egrets and three Shelducks, and Fly Flatts 14 Common Scoters and the last sighting of a Swift is August 28 unless you know different! If so let us know. Also a few Redstarts are moving through Calderdale. In the last few days it has been very quite on the reserve. Although there are a lot of Speckled Wood butterflies around, it looks like a second brood. Also there have been a few late Common Blues.

On the 30th a bat and moth night took place and fifty-one people of all ages met in the car park.

Robin Dalton, from Calderdale Countryside Services, began with a health and safety briefing followed by short introduction about bats outlining the types and habits. Children then took part in a short question and answer session, learning that one bat can eat 3000 insects in one night, we then set of into the reserve.

Arriving at the top meadow Robin explained how the bat detectors worked. At this point a Kestrel appeared and hunted the meadow seemingly not bothered by our large group, coming very close and hovering for five minutes.

Bats were a bit elusive at first but as darkness fell the detectors became more active. Then the first sightings after a while on the bailey bridge, torches whizzed around trying to follow the bats in flight - not an easy thing to do.

It was decided that the bats flying under the bridge were Daubenton bats. Other species are Pipistrelle and Noctual.

At the moth trapping area the light was starting to attract plenty of moths - twenty two species in total, including some exotic sounding ones like Canary-shouldered Thorn, Mother of Pearl, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Flounced Chestnut and Angle-striped Sallow.

The return journey to the car park also proved productive in finding large numbers of the “Bridge Spider”. This spider (Larinioides sclopetarius) is a close relative of our common garden spider being in the same family –Araneidae.

Their body length can be up to 14mm long. They are very active at night building and repairing their orb webs ready to catch flies, and at this time of the year usually have lots of young scampering around the web.

In the daytime they disappear into their retreats for safety. If you wish to see these large spiders on the Bailey Bridge on the reserve then you will need a torch. In the next month the work on North Loop should be finished with an end to the large earth movers and wagons and peace will be restored to the reserve.