MANT Newsletter No.4

ISSUE 4 Summer 2023


Photo Francesca Bridgewater

Weston Wood Update:

MANT is still going through the slow process of buying the Woods, and hope to exchange contracts any day. Meanwhile the Friends of Weston Woods, the umbrella group involved in the purchase including Otley 2030Wildlife Friendly OtleyClimate Action IlkleyAddingham Environmental GroupYorkshire Rewilding NetworkWharfedale Naturalists, Woodland Savers and Protect Earth, have been continuing to fundraise through events at Ilkley Carnival, Chevin Funday and the Otley Wildlife Arts Festival as well as further online fundraising. We still have to repay the loan from the philanthropist Julia Davies of We Have The Power, which enabled us to put in a competitive bid in a very short time. Unfortunately, due to the complexity of the Title for the Woods, the legal fees are much higher than expected, so we need to raise money to cover them too. We are currently in need of around £65,000.

Otley Road Fields:

An unmissable opportunity arose in May to try to acquire the fields next to Otley Road. MANT ran a crowdfunder and persuaded the Parish Council and another individual to put in a joint bid. Sadly we did not win, but it was encouraging to discover what could be achieved by working together. If anyone donated to the Otley Road fields Crowdfunder and would like their money returned, please contact or 07940917331 with your Bank Account Name, Number and Sort Code.

Normal activities of MANT have continued unabated. Miss Porritt’s field was opened to celebrate the King’s Coronation, with the opportunity to learn about surveying and identifying the wildflowers and bugs there. The highlight of the bird walks was the Dawn Chorus walk in May – a magical experience. MANT have been involved in the Menston Parks Group, and are currently working with all interested parties to enhance Menston parks for wildlife and humans. Read on for more details, and information about future events.

Donate to repay Loan for East Wood


  • Working Party Sunday 24th September 2023 2pm. Activity will be sowing wildflower seeds at Francesca’s house – Willow Dene, Bradford Road, Menston. LS29 6ED. Do NOT park in The Fox, they now have cameras and fines. Please note this has been moved from the 3rd Sunday this month. 
  • Bird Walk Friday 25th August 9am for 9:10 outside Kirklands. Please note these are now on the fourth Friday of the month.
  • Ilkley Car Free Day Sunday September 17th – come and support our stall
  • MANT Annual General Meeting Wednesday 27th September at 7:30pm in St John’s Parish Rooms
  • Weston Wood Online Auction in autumn – dates tbc. Please see website for details.

Two Trustees wanted

After just two years in existence, MANT is expanding the number of Trustees who run the charity. If you would like to get stuck into really making a difference to nature, please get in touch. Open to anyone over 18 who is enthusiastic about helping wildlife and creating and enhancing wild places, and who is prepared to roll their sleeves up! If you have expertise in fundraising or social media that would be fantastic, but not required. A willingness to help the charity thrive and to give MANT some of your time with a commitment to nature is all that is needed!

If you want to help, but are not ready to be a Trustee yet, we are always happy to have volunteers, either on Working Parties, or in other capacities to run the charity. Please contact if you are interested.

If you would like to be involved with raising funds to repay the loan for Weston Wood, in any capacity, please contact us.

Miss Porritt’s Field

Photo Francesca Bridgewater

The field is already showing signs of improved biodiversity with several of the wildflowers we planted last year flourishing, and some large areas of the vital yellow rattle taken hold, which will weaken the grass so allow more flowers in. There is also a fine bug hotel amongst the trees, where the cows can’t get at it.

King Charles’ Coronation was an excuse to open the field for a day of discovery. Much fun was had collecting bugs in nets, and identifying wildflowers. The children also simply enjoyed exploring the space in a less than manicured environment.

The field has also been host to some Brownie, Guides and Scouts groups, who relished getting up close to minibeasts. We hope these sessions will become regular events for all the Guides and Scouts groups in the village.

Everyone will be delighted to hear that our favourite cows, Annie, Jonie and Kai will be back munching the grass down this autumn. They need a permanent water trough, so if anyone has a spare bath lying around, please let us know!

Visit to East Keswick Wildlife Trust

We were delighted to have a chance to take a party to visit East Keswick Wildlife Trust, and be shown around by Melanie and David Smith, the masterminds behind the Trust. A fascinating morning ensued, with the amazing work done by the Smiths and their team apparent in the teaming wildlife and varied wildflower species we saw. The Trust looks after several different habitats, from ancient woodlands to wood pasture and traditional meadows. And Melanie and David are a font of wisdom on all things connected to wildlife and nature. 

We hope to arrange another visit next year, so if you were unable to come this time, you will have another chance. An opportunity not to be missed!

Working Parties

Photo Francesca Bridgewater

The main thrust of the recent Working parties has been balsam bashing in High Royds. Boosted by the success of some areas where we concentrated on eliminating the invasive plant last year, we have worked hard to expand these areas. A very satisfying task! Thanks to all who have given time and energy to make a difference. All participation is gratefully received. The next working Party has had to be moved due to the Ilkley Car Free Day, and will be on Sunday 24th September at 2pm. We will be sowing the wildflower seeds that we collected in August. Venue Willow Dene, Bradford Road, Menston LS29 6ED

Nature Notes

Swifts, house martins and swallows

For this newsletter we are looking at the differences between these three species. Swifts don’t arrive until May and leave around the end of August, while the other two spend longer here, arriving at the end of March and leaving in October. They all come here from sub-Saharan Africa to breed, returning to the same nest site each year.

The swift is dark brown all over with very long scimitar shaped wings. They are totally aerial and live their whole lives on the wing apart from when they start to nest, age 2-3 years.

House martins are smaller with a distinctive white rump, white underside, shiny dark blue back and a slightly forked tail. They are a more compact shape and make a chirrup while flying.

The swallow is elegant, flying with a swooping motion over meadows. If you are close enough you might see the reddish chin and pale underside. The tail has long streamers. They will happily perch on a telegraph wire when you can hear their conversational twittering song.

Swifts nest in gaps in roofs at the top of tall buildings. The kind of spaces they need are becoming more difficult for them to find as tall old houses or warehouses are being knocked down or have their roofs “improved” so as to eliminate gaps. However we do have them in Menston thanks to our stock of big old Victorian houses and this year MANT put up several swift boxes to encourage new birds to nest. You can see them around the surgery on Main Street and hear their screaming parties high in the sky on a fine evening.

We also have house martins in Menston making their mud nests in colonies under eaves, particularly in High Royds. This is the bird we chose for our MANT logo, placed in front of the clock tower. Have another look and you’ll recognise it!

You will only see swallows round the edge of the village as they nest in barns and farm buildings.

Times are tough for all of them as the supply of insects they need while here continues to dwindle. As ever, our message is to encourage insect life by avoiding using chemicals in your garden. Have a wide variety of plants that support insects throughout the year and try not to tidy up too much!

Bird Walks around Menston

Photo Francesca Bridgewater

Please note that MANT’s monthly bird walks have moved to the fourth Friday of the month! Led by Andrew Kelly, one of the trustees, these walks tend to take just over an hour, ending at the Cornerstone Café. Free to members of MANT. A donation from non-members would be gratefully received. Sorry, no dogs, as they tend to frighten the birds! You can just turn up, but it is helpful if you can contact Andrew on to say you are coming.

Give us money for free!

Finally, if you haven’t already done so (or badgered your family and friends to do so), if you shop online, please consider signing up to @giveasyoulive for us this year. Every time you make an online purchase, order a grocery delivery, book a trip or switch your energy providers, you can generate donations that support our work, for free >