Four members of the Fairfield Association visited Lancaster Beekeepers’ Apiary on 27th July 2014 as part of the HLF Adult Education programme. We joined a guided tour offered as part of the Beekeepers’ Annual Open Day. The tour began with kitting us out in ‘bee suits’ followed by informative talks by the Chair and Health and Safety Officer. We were then taken in small groups to inspect hives which were dismantled for us as the beekeepers explained the working of the hive. We all survived for tea and cake and purchases of honey.
The apiary has been constructed by the Beekeepers’ experts and is a very impressive site with wonderful views toward Ingleborough and good facilities not only for the bees but also for the training of new beekeepers. Whilst I don’t think any of us were tempted, we all admired the work this group does to preserve and develop beekeeping in the district. A successful and informative visit.
There’ll be a volunteer session at Fairfield Orchard, Fauna and Flora this
Wednesday evening, July 30th, beginning at 6.30pm.
As usual, the meeting point will be the Storage Building on the footpath
at the Sunnyside Lane end.
Tasks on this occasion include…
1. Cut back nettles and other growth alongside the paths in the Orchard.
(N.B. these are overhanging the paths badly but we should not be cutting
too many of them down given the clearance of the nettles around the apple
2. Continue trimming the grass around the base of the new saplings in Pony
Wood and the extension.
3. The team going to Pony Wood should look out for and trim back brambles
overhanging the Pads footpath. There is also a sycamore branch fallen in
the recent wind which needs cutting off and moving from the path. Finally,
the team should bring back fencing posts for future use near Anna’s Pool.
Meanwhile, this just in from the Builders’ Bags desk…
We are short of builders’ bags (the sort that sand and other building
materials is delivered in). They have multiple uses for clearing
vegetation but we have used our stock storing some scythed hay. If anyone
has spares can they simply put it over the fence in front of the Storage
Got woken up last night about midnight by some almighty screeching coming from the nature reserve. Thought initially our cat was having a set-to. However, the source turned out to be a couple of owls. One was clearly seen in silhouette at the top of the semi-dead oak tree in the Hay Meadow by Lucy Brook just down from the Cromwell Road gate. It was tawny owl sized, but the noise was not what I was expecting from a tawny. A google search however turned up a clip of tawny owls fighting:
Searching also suggests that such noises are typically made by males, and it could be that a juvenile is trying to encroach on another’s territory. Is this plausible, Jon?
Came across Common Fleabane in the Big Meadow today, see the wildflower photo collection. There were also lots of large brown dragon flies which I remember from previous years but don’t know exactly what they are.
I also put up two birds which were certainly partridge size and shape. As they flew off toward Lower Sowerholme I got an impression that their colouring was two shades of brown, body and wings. My birdbook information is consistent with my observation but I can’t be confident as it all happened quickly.
On July 10th a group of 9 of us visited Brockholes ( Lancashire, Manchester and N. Merseyside Nature Reserve) where we were given a guided tour by one of the very knowledgeable conservation volunteers. It was an idyllic summer evening. We had good sightings of hares but otherwise probably a little hot for wildlife.
The reserve was created from farm land and gravel pits so has a range of habitats and is much bigger than the Fairfield reserve. It is a lovely place to visit – interesting for us to see what they are achieving ( just a couple of years ahead of us), with a range of activities for children and adults. And traffic permitting less than half an hour down the motorway to junction 31.
Whilst working in the Big Meadow bog it has been good to see quite a lot of St John’s Wort and Meadow Vetchling in among all the ragwort. Walkers down the Pads footpath will have seen the striking tall purple plant which is Purple Loosestrife. There is also a bit of Selfheal around the edges.
Just a note that I have added Bird’s Foot Trefoil to the wildflower photo album.
Two rather different birds around the outlet to Alder Pond yesterday. A passer by thought they were water rails which is consistent with my bird book. Here are two inadequate photos taken with my phone. They certainly were not the usual resident mallards and moorhen.
A fresh range of flowers to report: Plenty of rosebay willowherb about and also the rather less common great willowherb. There are examples of purple loosestrife in both the Orchard and Big Meadow. Also in Big Meadow are specimens of slender speedwell. In Upper Sowerholme and the Orchard there are honeysuckle and wild angelica. Down the Pads footpath are lords and ladies coming to the end of their season.
In the wildflower photo gallery a flower is labelled as Deadly Nightshade. A colleague thinks this is a mistake and it should be Woody Nightshade or Bittersweet. I will correct this when I have time!
We have seen a song thrush on several occasions near the north entrance to the Orchard, yesterday it was bashing a snail on a stone to get at the meaty bit.
The illustrated buttferfly is very common at the moment. I am not good on butterflies, a colleague thinks it may be meadow brown.