The Birds in Your Garden

The more I learn about migration the more unbelievable I find it. The number and variety of birds which travel vast distances to breed is staggering. From humming birds flying between Mexico and Alaska, to gulls which circulate between Newfoundland and Chile, returning via Africa.

Cuckoo – photo by Pete Curran

Cuckoo – photo by Pete Curran

Many garden birds take part in these epic voyages too. Cuckoos are probably the best known, but Swallows, Swifts and House Martins make much the same journey and are a lot smaller. All these species are now on their way back, many of them already in southern Europe, and are being tracked by the BTO, using a range of data loggers, to help understand better where they migrate to, and by which routes, and maybe learn why their numbers are in decline.

During these early months of the year, we see short-range migrants moving through our gardens. Birds such as Siskins, Chaffinches and Goldfinches are moving northeast towards their breeding grounds, having spent the winter in the south and west of the country.So far this year most of the numbers reported are lower than usual, suggesting that fewer birds came across the North Sea in the first place.

Blackbirds from Fennoscandia and northern Germany also spend their winters here and move back east in early spring. I’ve seen Redwing and Fieldfare in my garden recently, possibly forced away from their usual feeding locations by the snow, but also starting to make their way back north-eastwards to breed.

As you mayhave heard, The Yorkshire Arboretum stillhostsa flock of around a hundred Hawfinches, a very rare event. They will presumably be returning to their breeding grounds soon, though there is always the hope that a few may stay and breed.

Migration habits are changing everywhere. Climate change allows many species to overwinter closer to home, as exampled by German Blackcaps wintering in southwest England rather than around the Mediterranean. Ever more species are breeding in the UK as well as in continental Europe, witness the spread north of Little Egrets which are now to be seen regularly in Yorkshire.

At the other end of the journey, both climate change and population growth are affecting our migrants’ summer quarters. Increased populations need more food and fuel, so forests are rapidly being eroded and land use is changing, with farming becoming more widespread and intensive. All of which reducethe availability of food for wildlife.

Food is key to migration: birds consume a vast amount of energy flying long distances, often across hostile terrain such as the Sahara. To do this they must fatten up before their journey, and then refuel on the way. Climate change produces ever more extreme weather conditions, which often mean insufficient food is available to migrants at their point of origin and en-route. We know that this is one of the major causes of migrating Cuckoomortality through Spain, where droughts and wildfires have caused major problems recently.

On the brighter side though, now is the time to keep your eyes peeled. You never know what might choose your garden to rest and refuel in on its way back home! Particularly if we have some strong winds to blow them off-course.

If you find the lives of our garden birds interesting and would like to join in and count the feathered occupants of your garden, please contact me or visit the BTO Garden BirdWatch website(www.bto.org/gbw). If you know of an organisation not a million miles from York which would like a talk on garden birds call: Mike Gray 07596 366342 or gbwmike @gmail.com.

Amblers Walks

The Boroughbridge Amblers have some walks planned during the next few weeks. On Thursday 15th March, there will be a walk of 4.5 miles at Markington and South Stainley. For further details, contact the walk leader, Viv, on 01423 326182.

On Tuesday 20th March, there was planned a walk of 5 miles at Boston Spa. Unfortunately this has been cancelled. Linda has kindly offered to lead a walk from Wetherby instead, 3/4 miles, contact her on 01423 322988.

For all walks, meet up in Back Lane Car Park, Boroughbridge, for a 10am departure. Lifts are available and transport sharing is encouraged. Everyone welcome!

Mark Knight to give FORA talk

Mark Knight from Cambridge Archaeology Unit,
Current Archaeology Archaeologist of the Year 2017, will give a talk for Friends of Roman Aldborough on Saturday 10th March 2.30pm, at Aldborough Village Hall.

Mark Knight specialises in prehistoric landscapes, as well as Neolithic and Bronze Age pottery. His first experience of archaeology was six years working with the Exeter Museum’s Archaeological Field Unit as a result of the Manpower Services Commission. Encouraged by the unit’s then director, he left to study archaeology. After completing his degree in 1995, Mark joined the Cambridge Archaeology Unit and began researching the prehistoric Fens, a landscape that still absorbs him some 20 years on. Mark directed the Must Farm excavations for the Cambridge Archaeological Unit.
Archaeologists say the excavations have revealed the best-preserved Bronze Age dwellings ever found in Britain.  Large circular wooden houses collapsed in a dramatic fire and plunged into a river, preserving their contents in astonishing detail and have now provided an extraordinary insight into domestic life 3,000 years ago. The settlement, dating to the end of the Bronze Age (1200-800 BC), would have been home to several families who lived in a number of wooden houses on stilts above water.

The result is an extraordinary time capsule containing exceptional textiles made from plant fibres such as lime tree bark, rare small cups, bowls and jars complete with past meals still inside. Also found are exotic glass beads forming part of an elaborate necklace, hinting at a sophistication not usually associated with the British Bronze Age.
“Must Farm is the first large-scale investigation of the deeply buried sediments of the fens and we uncovered the perfectly preserved remains of prehistoric settlement. Everything suggests the site is not a one-off but in fact presents a template of an undiscovered community that thrived 3,000 years ago ‘beneath’ Britain’s largest wetland,” says Mark who will share the remarkable stories of its discovery and the questions it now raises with all those who are fortunate enough to attend what promises to be a fascinating talk.
Visitors £5  FORA members free.

Walkers are Welcome

IMG_0433Plans are well in hand with the programme for  this years  Boroughbridge Walking Festival to be held over the Easter weekend 2018. Organised by the Boroughbridge Branch of Walkers Are Welcome the Festival will include walks for all levels  and members of the family and this year will include a charity walk for Hearing Dogs for the Deaf.

IMG_0429The popular Myton Walk with afternoon tea is on the programme once again, this time concentrating more on the village history and the Battlefield.
It is planned to hold a new walk at Copgrove and a walk around Boroughbridge finding out the history of the churches.
For more information  about the walking festival visit the website Boroughbridgewalks.org.uk or find the group on Facebook.

Village Roots Revisited

On Friday 12th January 2018, local historian Tony Hunt will deliver an illustrated lecture updating his history of Marton cum Grafton at the village’s memorial Hall, starting at 7.30pm. Followed by a virtual tour of a little visited private museum with new information about its curator, and a re-launch of the Village History Group. Ticket price: £7.50 (includes glass of wine/soft drink and nibbles). Tickets on sale at Spellows Village Shop or telephone Tony Hunt (07977 447712) or Keith Lumsden (07876 136975). Proceeds to be divided between Christ Church and the re-launched Village History Group.

Community Carols

carolsatthehallThere will be Community Carols at The Coronation Hall Sunday 10th December at 6pm. Organised by All Saints Church, Kirby Hill. Mulled wine, orange, & mince pies! There will be a collection in aid of Candlelighters.

ROECLIFFE WI – A VILLAGE INSTITUTION

In March 16th 1933 Roecliffe WI was inaugurated by Lady Lawson-Tancred. Miss Tankard of Whixley outlined the object and aims of The Women’s Institute.  The first bank account was in the Penny Bank and the first social evening was held in December with optional fancy dress. The first President was Mrs Greene, Secretary Lady Lawson-Tancred and Treasurer Miss Troller.

Trawling through the minute books from 1933 onwards, the most striking thing is the degree of social change between then and now.  Lack of transport meant that social life revolved around the village and its inhabitants and Roecliffe WI was at the forefront of organising socials, whist drives, plays, concerts, dances, children’s parties, etc.  They had a captive audience as there was no competition from television, foreign holidays, trips to London, visits away to look after grandchildren, etc.  Money was limited and entertainment was home-made and local.  Outings were arranged for members, their families and guests.  Speakers spoke mainly on craft-related items or home economic topics, but the wartime minutes make for interesting reading. During the Second world war, in common with WIs throughout England and Wales, Roecliffe WI raised funds for Red Cross, WI Ambulance Fund and local causes such as the Searchlight Unit. It knitted copiously for the troops and provided gifts for all the local boys who were called up. It began First Aid classes for those at home.

Throughout its time Roecliffe WI has been the champion, and often the instigator, of many local initiatives. These include bringing electric lights to the village, starting a bus service, creating safe footpaths, supporting the first Parish Council, filling in the unsafe pond on the village green, campaigning for more council houses, planting trees on the green, providing and maintaining seats in the village and proposing that Roecliffe become a conservation Area.
In more recent times, Roecliffe continues to be a reservoir of a multitude of skills and hobbies, demonstrated in our successful entries of craft, baking and flower arranging classes in the Great Yorkshire Show, and in our very successful and enjoyable Murder Mystery evening.
Like WIs throughout the world, Roecliffe WI has been a powerful voice both locally and nationally. Their hard work, fund-raising and lobbying have changed the face of society as well as educating and inspiring women for more than 100 years. The organisation is now enjoying a resurgence and renaissance and proves that the original values and mission are as relevant today as in the beginning. Visitors and new members are always welcome at our monthly meetings, held on the second Friday in the month in Roecliffe School.

Contact Helen Davison 01423 325677/07879333563.

Matinee Film Club

We will run a trial showing in October on a Monday, January 22 at 2pm in Coronation Hall.  Cost £5 including tea and biscuits.
For more details contact Jane Barber on 01423 325 808 or e-mail chair @ yorevision.org.uk if you are interested.