House martins zooming over the Fauna fields this afternoon. About six I think but going ever so fast!
I was in the West Field this morning having a look at the hedge we laid and ‘gapped up’ this winter. Things seem to be coming along fine. It is noticeable just how few flowers there are in the previously heavily fertilised field, unable to compete with the grass. However, it was nice to see a few bluebells coming up in the hedge bottom and toward the northern end of the field there are quite a few cuckoo flowers as well as lots of the inevitable chickweed. I did notice a little common vetch and common mouse ear as well.
Lapwings again in the Flora Field and that very noisy woodpecker in the Wood.
Yesterday late afternoon (13 May), when inspecting the 4-metre stretch of wall on Aldcliffe Road, demolished by a drunk driver in the early hours of Sunday morning, I saw an oystercatcher exploring the crop area and a heron next to the scrape.
The demolished wall has been fenced off for now. Repairing it won’t be cheap!
Looking over the fence into the Hay Meadow I noticed red clover, Good King Henry, Ribwort Plantain and LOTS AND LOTS of yellow rattle.
There is white mustard in the Pads hedge. Temptation to forget about these more ‘weedy’ plants. There is also columbine which might well be a garden escapee but aqualegia vulgaris is an indigenous wild flower. Not sure how we draw the line?
I don’t think anyone has reported the wildlife seen and heard on Andy Lees walk and talk around Pony Wood last Thursday (8th). We saw the lapwings once again, heard a woodpecker, probably larger spotted and had a really good sighting of a brown hare along the boundary of the Flora Field and Lower Sowerholme.
Here is Jonathan’s message to Orchardeers
There’ll be a volunteer session at Fairfield Orchard, Fauna and Flora this Saturday May 10th, starting at 10.00am and finishing at 1.00pm or thereabouts.
There’s much work to be done at this fecund time…
1. Mow the grass.
2. Cut back the nettles around fruit trees in the Orchard.
3. Position logs in Pony Wood for use as seating.
4. Stake the larger saplings planted in Pony Wood and the Extension.
5. Continue to flatten out the ruts left by machinery in Big Meadow.
6. Make further adjustments to the pedestrian gate at the ‘treble gates’ to improve its working.
7. Repair the broken rail at the cattle crossing.
8. Work on the redundant Flora fence to retrieve a) useful posts, b) useful lengths of wire netting and c) identify what is scrap.
9. Retrieve further redundant spirals and canes from the Pads footpath.
10. Cut back self seeded sycamore saplings along the hedgeline between the Paddock and the Sunnyside Lane path and various self seeding saplings in the Orchard.
11. At the end of the session put up some of our tables in the Orchard for the ‘Blossom Picnic’.
Firewood enthusiasts may be interested to learn that the gates of the Paddock and the Lower Sowerholme (ex-Gleeson’s) fields will be open for firewood collection.
The Blossom Picnic, as advertised in Ruth’s e-newsletter and a ‘Jacob’s Join’ style affair, will take place from 1pm in the Orchard.
Everybody is very much invited to bring some lunch and stay on after the session. See if you can’t tempt some families and friends to join us too. All welcome.
Looking slightly further ahead, I’ve been asked to mention that the next Lancashire Wildlife Trust event is a bird song guided walk, an introduction to identifying the songs of our resident and migrant birds.
The walk will be around the Heysham and Middleton reserves, where up to 9 species of warbler are now singing, and much else besides! The walk is on Weds 14th May, starting at 9am at Heysham nature reserve.
The event is free of charge though booking is required. Please call 01524 855030 to do so.
And that’s your lot from me,
Whilst it was still bright and sunny, we wandered round the boundaries of the nature reserve early yesterday evening. The woodpecker in Pony Wood was going at it hammer and tongs, the sound carrying far across the fields. After hearing from Jon Carter about the decline in recent years of greenfinch numbers because of a virus, Paul was delighted to see a couple as we paused on the Long Pads path. They were perched briefly on a wire fence at the boundary between Flora Field (new name for the arable) and Lower Sowerholme (formerly known as Gleesons field). But we couldn’t spot the grey partridge in West Field, and were starting to think that the lapwings had moved on. Just as we were about to get to the end of the reserve by the Aldcliffe Road houses, we heard a brief call: two displaying together over the ridge of Flora Field. One promptly landed at the top of the field, silhouetted against the skyline, distinctive crest showing clearly. Magical.
I was in the Sowerholme section of Fauna this morning and there is lots of a small white plant which I think is large bittercress. There is no public access to that part of the reserve so it’s difficult for people to check my identification. However, if you on that part of the Fauna path do look over the fence into the Hay Meadow. There is lots of another small white plant which I can’t clearly identify. It may be one of the sandworts.
Lots of butterflies and frogs in Sowerholme but the two of us working there aren’t good on these.
In another part of the reserve, over the wall from Aldcliffe Road, there is lots of ribbed plantain on the bank and ivy leaved toadflax in the wall.
A walk around Fauna and Flora today revealed the following flowers which I don’t believe have been reported this year
- Ransomes in the Orchard and by the big ash tree on the Fauna path
- Dusky crane’s bill in the Orchard
- Forget-me-not in the Orchard
- Green alkanet in the Orchard
- Common comfrey in the Pads / Big Meadow hedgeline
- Common vetch along the Long Pads
- Common plantain in the Hay Meadow
- Nice display of bluebells in Little Wood
As well as this, lapwings seen and heard around the ploughed field for the third consecutive day and a particularly noisy woodpecker at work in Pony Wood