Excursions are not just for experts, they are a fabulous way to get involved in field work, see interesting places, share knowledge and learn from others – plus they are very sociable and enjoyable events. If you have never been to one, now is the time to start!
Excursions are the five special field meetings held every year, one in each of Yorkshire’s five vice counties. Members from all the different sections get together to record wildlife in a location chosen by the local VC Excursion Secretary and at the end of the day there is a meeting over tea and biscuits in a local pub or village hall to discuss what has been found. This is always a very informal and enjoyable affair with each section reporting what they have found and passing around interesting specimens.
The location for these meetings is chosen to provide a habitat which will appeal to a range of wildlife interests; sometimes we are specially asked to survey a site or to provide conservation advice. The records from the day are made available to the landowner or manager and also to the local records centre and vice county recorders. An account of the excursion is published in the Naturalist with volunteers from each of the sections writing a brief summary of their findings.
The arrangements for the five meetings all appear in the May edition of the Naturalist and are flagged up in the diary of events on the website. There is no need to book a place to come – just come along to the specified meeting place with a packed lunch and suitable footwear and clothing for a day in the field. The Excursion Secretary will start the meeting by giving an introduction to the site and outlining the arrangements for the day, after which members will go off in small groups, representing the different interests, before gathering for the tea and meeting.
The YNU has been arranging excursions since at least 1877 and the published reports can all be found in the online database of the Naturalist. It is fascinating to look back at previous accounts and to be able to compare them with more recent visits.
Sarah and Ken White
VC Excursion Secretaries for VC61 and 64
Members examining the contents of the moth trap at the VC 64 Upper Wharfedale excursion in 2010 (left) and Herb Paris Paris quadrifolia found on the VC61 Jeffry Bog excursion in 2015 (right). This plant had not been recorded in the VC since the 1970s.