Walkers Are Welcome Rosedale Abbey is part of the “This Exploited Land of Iron” Project. Click for more info.

Wild Rosedale

Rosedale is a wild and rugged landscape and is teeming with wildlife. In this section you will find posts relating to nature and events that celebrate our rich countryside.

Autumn in our hedgerows

A real autumnal feel walking through the dale this weekend.  Birds and mammals taking full advantage of the seasonal bounty along our hedgerows.  Hazels Corylus avellana full of cobnuts and Guelder Rose Viburnum opulus laden with shiny red berries.  Good to be out.  Updale Natural History Recorder

Hazel cobnuts

Guelder rose berries

Stunning male Redstart

The redstart is a stunning bird, both the male and female have a striking red tail which constantly quivers. The female is predominantly brown but the male is grey with a black face, white crown and red breast. It is a migrant bird, coming here to breed in the Spring and Summer. Rosedale seems to have had a good number here this year. This male bred up on the old railway line on the east side and is still being seen along with its juveniles Updale Natural History Recorder

Male redstart

Striking red tail

Silent on the wing

Young Barn owls are in the process of fledging now.  They will have been coming out of their nests over the last few weeks, flexing their wings whilst waiting for the adults to return with food.  Not only do Barn owls nest in barns and purpose built owl boxes but they also use hollows in trees.  Barn owl feathers are not waterproof so they don’t fly and hunt in the rain and therefore you are more likely to see them quartering fields during the day if it has rained all night.  Rosedale has a good population of barn owls and barn owl boxes are always welcome to encourage them to stay.  Updale Natural History Recorder

Barn owl at entrance to nest in hollow of tree


A late flowerer, Sneezewort Achillea ptarmica is found in damp grassy areas. It’s delicate pale colouring is delightful to see in rough grassy areas. And yes, it’s strong smell is known to cause sneezing. It’s dried leaves were once used as snuff to clear the head! Updale Natural History Recorder


Beware the dangers of Hogweed

Hogweed is a very common roadside verge umbellifer in flower during the height of summer but can flower all year round. People, particularly children should be aware of the dangers of this plant. Last week our caretaker, Annie Wilkinson was strimming a verge in Thorgill for road safety reasons and strimmed Common hogweed Heracleum sphondylium. The sap from the plant sprayed on to her arm and caused serious and extensive blistering which subsequently required medical attention. On the sunny day the reaction was made worse because the skin is hypersensitive in bright sunlight. Common hogweed isn’t much more than 2m tall and the stem no more than 5cm thick.

There is the possibility the hogweed could be Giant hogweed Heracleum mantegazzianum and whilst this should not be ruled out completely examination of the plant suggests this unlikely.

Giant hogweed, which is usually found along river systems but not always, has been in the press recently due to its aggressive and invasive spread through the countryside and like Common hogweed contains the harmful sap. However, Giant hogweed is a much greater danger as reaction to its irritant chemicals in the sap is more severe. Even just brushing against the bristles on the stem or leaves can cause severe skin irritation and getting sap in the eyes can cause blindness. Giant hogweed is a huge plant, growing well over 3m tall with very large flower heads and thick stems of over 10cm. There is a really useful guide to identification of Giant hogweed under Species information at nonnativespecies.org. Whether it is Common hogweed or Giant hogweed exercise extreme caution or stay well clear. Updale Natural History Recorder

White flower heads of Common hogweed

Full plant of Common hogweed standing about 1.6m

Lesser sea spurrey

The name of this tiny mat-forming plant, Lesser sea spurrey Spergularia marina suggests it should be on the coast but what is it doing here in Rosedale?  It has found itself sporadically along the old railway line on the west side heading north from Chimney Bank.  It is usually found on coastal sands and salt marshes but is increasingly establishing itself on the side of roads where salt gritting takes place.  Walkers’ boots then help it migrate on to tracks.  It has tiny five-petalled flowers which only open for a few hours each day.  Blink and you will miss it.  Updale Natural History Recorder

Mat-forming lesser sea spurrey

Deep pink five-petalled flower

The fascination of a swarm of honey bees

Becky Hebron has had a swarm of honey bees in a hawthorn tree alongside her chicken huts for a few days and it was safely recovered by our Rosedale beekeepers Sheila Gray and Pete Widlinski. It is getting late in the season for honey bees to swarm but obviously the queen was ready to move on and thousands of the worker bees duly followed. Wherever the queen lands to rest the workers gather around her forming a clump. Meanwhile scout bees are sent out to find a suitable place for the new colony to live. This swarm could be upwards of 10,000 bees.

Pete and Sheila had fixed sticks in the bottom of a cardboard box to which the bees could attach themselves as they had done in the tree. Suits donned and with great expertise the pair encouraged the honey bees in to the box which was then turned upside down and left on the ground close by for a few hours so that any loose bees could join the swarm through small gaps. The bees will then be introduced to a new hive. Grateful thanks to Becky, Sheila and Pete. Updale Natural History Recorder

Swarm of honey bees

Carefully does it

The bees are in the box

Great spotted woodpecker

Great spotted woodpeckers are sometimes seen on peanut feeders. However, at this time of year they may bring their young which is a real treat. The adult will take peanuts to a juvenile close by. The juvenile has a red crown and greyish breast and belly. Grateful thanks to a local resident for these stunning photos.  Updale Natural History Recorder

Juvenile great spotted woodpecker waiting to be fed by male adult

Female great spotted woodpecker

Well I never

Don’t be tempted to dismiss the Green-veined White butterfly as just another ‘Cabbage White’. The underwing is a delicate beauty, the vein edges highlighted with a dusting of dark scales. But it gets better. Male Green-veined Whites flutter about seeking females perched among leaves. On finding his beau the male showers her with a ‘love dust’ strong enough that we can pick up the lemon verbena scent. Females are programmed to mate but once however, some are promiscuous and go looking for males, mating up to five times in their short lives. During mating the male also transfers proteins and nutrients which allows these promiscuous females to live longer. Who would have thought.

It’s a common butterfly on damp grassland and open woodland and they don’t do well in droughts. So now this rain has eased go and have a look. Updale Natural History Recorder

Green-veined white butterfly