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by Gill Smith

2005 was in many ways a strange year. It opened with a fabulous display of northern lights on 21 January, with big glowing red and green patches, some searchlight-like rays, and rolling green “sausages” running roughly E-W across the sky for several minutes around 7p.m.

We had a long, cold early spring. Despite one warm period in mid-March many of the trees had not turned green until the very end of April, the hawthorn did not bloom until the third week in May and the ashes were not in leaf till the first week in June. 20th June saw the tremendous thunderstorm centred on Arden Moor that caused terrible flooding on the Rye at Helmsley and around Hawnby. This obviously had a serious effect on all riverside habitats, producing new river cliffs and piling huge rocks up in the riverbed which will be there for a long time to come, as well as washing out trees and depositing new layers of silt in many places. It will be interesting to monitor the colonisation of these new habitats.

The Society held a variety of field trips to Rievaulx, Shunner Howe, Upper Bransdale and Wykeham Moor, which are reported in this Newsletter. It was particularly exciting to see clear evidence of otters on our trip to the Rye in April, including fresh footprints.

We have a very interesting article on birds in Slingsby over the past 150 years and a light-hearted look at stoats and weasels. Michael Thompson reports that he has received an unusually large number of reports of partly or wholly white stoats (known as ermine) this winter (2005/06).

We have again received reports from some of our members, and I encourage everybody to submit records and observations. As I said last year these do not have to be of rare or unusual species: information on all our plants and animals, lichens and fungi, their habitats and behaviour is welcome. What is commonplace now may not be so in the future and it is interesting and valuable to have up to date observations. Please send your records either to the relevant Recorder or to the Editor.


February 2006

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