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by John Farquhar

We have had a second year in which the weather has not been kind to naturalists or to many kinds of wildlife. ‘Flaming June’ was used in a perjorative sense yet again, as it was so cold and wet, and heavy Autumn rains have added to the financial problems faced by farmers – and to the amount of mud on our roads. On the credit side rivers and ponds were full, and fungi flourished.

The Society too continues to flourish – again we have had a very interesting and well- attended programme of indoor meetings. The summer excursions too took us to a variety of habitats, and it is a pity that they attracted fewer people: the reports later in the Newsletter show what you missed if you weren’t there.

We do now have a Botany recorder, but we also have a vacancy for mosses and liverworts, as Philip Bowes, one of our longest-serving members, wishes to step down. Here is your chance to become an expert in a small but fascinating part of Ryedale’s flora – all you need is a hand lens, and a good pair of wellies.

Which reminds me that I found a slow worm this summer, and realised that no one in the Society deals with reptiles and amphibia.

Our cover this year is a very poor reproduction of the photograph which won the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award in 1998 for Manfred Danegger. Backlighting by the morning sun, and the scatter of dewdrops, make it obvious why it was the winner. I hope that you saw the original in its full colour in BBC Wildlife.

It is often thought that these mad March hares are two males, competing for a female, but in fact the combatants are an unwilling female beating off an over-persistent male. Michael Thompson writes about his involvement with a national survey of hares elsewhere.

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