July 2020

AEG Photo competition

The response to our decision to hold a wildlife photo competition during the lockdown has been splendid with over 150 pictures being submitted by the 31st May deadline.

The competition was designed to help our members through a very difficult period and at the same time take advantage of everyone’s enforced free time to start building a photo archive of village wildlife. The theme was “Spring” and entries were invited under seven categories: Birds, Bees, Butterflies, Other animals, Wildflowers, Landscape and Children (aged 11 and under).

The winning picture of the “butterfly” category chosen by judge Diane Morris was taken by Mel Taylor and this picture went on to become the overall winner, judged by John Fontana and Harry Jevons.  Diane commented “the photo shows the butterfly’s mottled green underwings with a hint of orange on the upper wing to identify it as a male, and captures it taking nectar from ladies smock, it’s main food plant”.  A delighted Mel said “I’m grinning from ear to ear – not something that has happened much in recent months”

The “birds” category was won by Anne Hodgson with a picture of a grey heron on the River Wharfe above High Mill.  Judge Chris Acomb liked its composition, particularly the diagonal of the ‘log perch’ against the upright position of the heron. The winning “bees” photo of a tree bumblebee was taken by Ian Benson.  Judge Maurice White admired its balance of colour and shade with the tones of the bee in clear natural light.

The “other animals” category attracted a diverse range of entries including roe deer, frogs and mating hedgehogs.  The winner was Mary Jenner’s picture of a frog in a garden pond.  The category was judged by Jan Hindle who commented “the viewer’s attention is drawn immediately to the eye of the frog at the centre of the photograph and the close image allows us to appreciate the textures, particularly of the frog’s skin”.


There were over thirty pictures submitted in the “wildflower” category.  Choosing a winner was consequently difficult, but judges Nicky Vernon and Heather Burrow picked out a photo of a wood avens flower by Don Barrett as the winner.  They remarked “the photo is beautifully crisp, nicely lit and interesting. You can even see the shadows of the stamens on two of the petals. It repays study, and tells you all you need to know about a Geum flower”.


The “childrens” category was also well-subscribed with pictures of wildflowers, butterflies, and landscapes, but the winning entry, by seven-year old Evelyn Klatt, was of a “little brown mouse” captured close to the Saw Mill Pond footpath.  Head judges John Fontana and Harry Jevons also judged the childrens category.  John said that with children as young as five in the competition, rather than technical skills, they were looking for photos that most portrayed wild life in its natural environment, and where images were composed in a way that made the subject stand out.

Landscape” was the most popular category, such that judge Geraldine Thompson opted to declare three joint winners.  The rules for this category required pictures to be taken of landscapes within the parish boundaries or seen from within parish boundaries.  Mike Valiant’s picture of the moon indeed followed the rules!  Geraldine commented “an unusual and striking image of tremendous contrast between the cool crisp clarity of the moon’s surface and the deep impenetrable indigo blue of the mysteries of limitless space beyond”.  On Debs Griffiths’ picture she remarked “a rare and serendipitous opportunity to capture the extraordinary dramatic colourful light at early dawn during a narrow timeline in the short life of the cherry blossom” and on the third joint winner by John Fontana she said “this is a quintessentially Addingham spring scene familiar to local walkers”.


In addition to the eight winning entries there were 40 pictures highly commended by the judges which can be seen here.  The Environment Group wishes to thank everyone for their entries and thanks especially the judges for their help, thoughtful judging and constructive comments.   There may well be another competition next year, lockdown or no lockdown.


The Bat Group.

We have well established groups for monitoring our village birds, butterflies and bees.  We now have a bat group.  Co-ordinator Pam Wells writes:

“The Bat Group is a new departure for Addingham, my partner Malcolm and myself. We have lived in the village for some time and each year during the summer months, seen bats flitting amongst the trees in the dusk. Our greater interest began after meeting Maggie Brown from the West Yorkshire Bat Group at the AEG’s annual environment weekend in the Memorial Hall last year.

During the last few months Malcolm has been involved in local wildlife surveys, and it was during a conversation with Rick that Malcolm and I agreed to form a local bat group on the clear understanding that we are not experts – far from it –  but we are learning as much as we can with a great deal of welcome advice from Maggie, a real bat expert in Otley.

We have been delighted by the response to the group and it is encouraging to discover the amount of interest and potential involvement of so many people. Hopefully, before too long, we will be able to meet together and discuss how we would like the group to progress.

Meanwhile, Malcolm has put together an interactive map on which we’re recording our sightings, you can see it at Addingham Bat Map. Why not join us in the group so that we can add your sightings? it won’t matter at all if you don’t know the species, every record is immensely valuable in helping us to build a picture of our local bat population.

I am learning as much as I can about bats in general. In July we will be getting our bat detector and aim to visit various bat haunts as indicated by the map and discover the different species we have in the locality.

We’d love to hear from you if you would like to join the group, just drop an email to aeg@addingham.info and we’ll be in touch.”


The Swift Group

We also have a new swift group co-ordinated by Jessica Penrose.

Every spring we look forward to the return of our swifts.  They were back from Africa on schedule this year at the beginning of May.  Hopefully they are now having a successful breeding season here in the village.  Nationally swifts have declined by about 50% since 1995 so we need to do all we can to take care of our Addingham populations for the relatively short time they are with us.

One of the most important things is to make sure their regular nesting sites are available when they return and are then not disturbed during the nesting season.  But where are the sites?  We know there are some nests in the eaves in Victoria Terrace but we’d like to identify all the others.  If you’re interested in swifts and would like to help please email aeg@addingham.info and we’ll put you in touch with Jess.