Boroughbridge Walking Festival

The Boroughbridge Branch of ‘Walkers Are Welcome’, who held their sixth Annual Walking Festival over the Easter holidays, would like to thank everyone for their help and support in making it another successful weekend.
The walking weekend was attended by over two hundred and fifty walkers and included two new well attended walks at Helperby and Copgrove. Sadly, the weather on Easter Monday meant numbers were down for the family walk with children’s activities at the Yorkshire Wild Life Trust Staveley Nature Reserve and Myton on Swale, however several hardy folks still turned out.

The Charity Walk this year was for the Hearing Dogs for Deaf people.

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The Ghost walk which was staged with the help of the Hightimers drama group depicted Lady Lawson Tancred, starting the women’s land army in the First World War, Archie White winning his VC, the fairy of the Devils Arrows and a knight from the 1322 Battle of Boroughbridge.

A big thank you must also go to the Festival sponsors: the local businesses, the Boroughbridge Chamber of Trade and Boroughbridge Town Council.
Plans are already being discussed for the walking festival at Easter next year.

The Birds in Your Garden

On the excuse that House Martins and Cuckoos could be garden birds, I’m going off-piste to talk about a topic that fascinates me – tracking birds, whether when migrating or just moving around feeding.

One of the BTO’s aims is to push the frontiers of technology to learn more about bird behaviour, and whilst trackers of one kind or another have been around for more than 20 years they are still evolving and miniaturising at pace.

Trackers weigh from 0.3 gram up to anything a bird as big as a gull can easily carry. Some can transmit their position to a remote receiver, whilst others require the bird to be recaptured or recovered, if dead. All require the bird to be caught for installation purposes, which can in itself pose a number of problems!

cuckooPhoto: BTO

The smallest trackers are geolocators which are a combination of a light sensor, a memory chip and a clock, allpowered by a battery. These tiny devices use light levels to plot local day length which, when combined with the sun’s position above the horizon,gives an estimate of latitude and longitude to within about 150 km. Good enough on a 5,000 km journey. Heavy cloud cover or the bird being in shade can lead to inaccuracies, but over a period will even out. Changes in light levels can also be used to tell when a bird moves onto or off its nest, which is useful when monitoring breeding.

Next up in size and accuracy are tags which use GPS. These weigh from about a gram upwards, the smaller ones only storing data internally for later analysis, whilst the larger ones can transmit their data. The accuracy of these systems can be anything down to 20 metres depending on how sophisticated they are. Mass production has made these tags cheap enough to allow large samples of birds to be tagged at once, vastly increasing the amount of information collected.

Finally, there are the satellite and mobile-phone-based trackers used on larger birds such as Cuckoos and gulls,which can transmit their data. Those using mobile phone networks are larger and heavier at 12 grams or more as they need much more power, but as they have lower transmission coststhey are often the favourites. Some satellite tags use solar panels to charge their batteries and can cost as much as £2000 each, as well as incurring high transmission costs.

The choice of which tag to use for which purpose depends on many factors: the size of the bird, overall cost, ease of recapture etc. All this data has many uses:locating food sourcesduring migration, looking at flight patternsto work out likely conflicts when siting off-shore wind turbines, discovering breeding sites and many, many more. It’s exciting stuff and we’re learning a lot. If you want to know more, or follow the cuckoos on their way back here, look on the BTO website.

If you find the lives of our garden birds to be of interest, 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

Boroughbridge Business steps in to support local Junior Football Team

Boroughbridge Junior FC under 11s team has a new kit thanks to local business Rabbit Hill Country Store and Rural Supplies.

Rabbit Hill Country Store and Rural Supplies, based just off the A168, south of Boroughbridge, sells products needed for outdoor jobs – from farming consumables and animal feeds to workwear, maintenance products and planting.
The sponsorship deal sees the under 11s wear the company logo on their team kit. The team, which competes in the Nidderdale Junior League, has grown recently and now has a squad of 15 players drawn from Boroughbridge and surrounding villages.

Gemma Fisher, Rabbit Hill Country Store Manager, said:“We are delighted to support the team by sponsoring their kit. As a local company, with employees living and working in the area, we are pleased to lend our support to community activities. Sport is so important to young people, in terms of adopting a healthy lifestyle and creating social groups, so anything we can do to help is very rewarding.”

Chris Fahy, Boroughbridge Juniors FC chairman added: “Without the support of the community and sponsorship from companies like Rabbit Hill Country Store and Rural Supplies, we wouldn’t have such a thriving club. The lads look very smart in their new kit and will represent the town well when they play opponents across the district.”
The team is always open to new players and is recruiting players for the 2018/19 season. People interested in bringing their child to a training session can get in touch by contacting bjfc2014 @gmail.com, via the club Facebook page or by visiting the club website.

Boroughbridge JFC is an FA Charter Standard club which means it provides a high-quality football experience with FA trained and vetted coaches. Games and training sessions take place at Boroughbridge High School and Boroughbridge AFC on Aldborough Road on Saturday and Sunday mornings, providing games and training for around 150 children from the town and surrounding villages. Boys and girls of all abilities from five to seventeen years are welcome and the club also runs an Ability for All (disability football) team.
www.boroughbridgejuniorsfc.co.uk

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.