Naturalists from across Yorkshire paid a rewarding visit to a Dales farm where encouraging wildlife is a priority.

Specialists in spiders, bees, flies, moths and butterflies, and plants, were amongst the group from the Yorkshire Naturalists Union who visited Lower Winskill Farm, above Langcliffe.

The working farm, owned by Tom Lord, is farmed both for commercial gain, but also in a way that looks after the wildlife of the dales, especially the wild flowers and the butterflies they attract.

The naturalists, including members of the Craven Conservation Group, were delighted in the afternoon sun to see the rare northern brown argus butterfly which lays its eggs on rock-rose. A group of lepidopterists had set up moth traps the previous evening which were emptied in the morning.

(Image: Judith Allinson)

Entomologists - those who study insects - Derek Whitely and Steve Garland walked to Stainforth Beck and were impressed with the special insects they found living on the tufa deposits; while Judith Allinson led a small workshop on the special limestone grasses.

Farmer Tom Lord gave the group a presentation on managing the species rich grassland and on the Whitefaced Woodland rare breed of sheep which he has been using the last two years. He said they were the nearest to the breed of sheep breed that would have been used in the area in past centuries, and were bred for their wool.

(Image: Penny Relf)

Penny Relf of Butterfly Conservation Yorkshire said: "There were 88 species of moth recorded at the event including the very scarce Thyme Pug. It was pleasing to have great sightings of Dipper, on Stainforth Beck, also a pair of Ravens and Peregrines. It was a lovely day out meeting fellow naturalists and learning about the history and ecology of the area."

The Yorkshire Naturalists' Union started more than 160 years ago - at a time when Middlesbrough supplied most of the world with steel. It is an umbrella organisation for the almost 40 Natural History Societies in Yorkshire and for keen naturalists.

(Image: Judith Allinson)

In the late afternoon, after tea and cake, a plenary session was held in the barn at the farm when the members reported back what they had found. This was chaired by Judith Allinson and Terry Whitaker, both of Craven Conservation Group and both former presidents of the Yorkshire Naturalists Union.

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