Not on Fairfield nature reserve but near enough to be interesting. Going south along the canal, past the cutting and the bench, there were three fieldfare feeding today on the Haverbreaks terraced field (on the east side of the canal). My understanding is that this is quite late for fieldfare to be in the UK, so thought it worth a mention. They couldn’t be breeding could they?

Flowers and birds

Seen in the last day or two: a  kestrel hunting over Big Meadow (29th May) and a heron landing in Upper Sowerholme (30th May).

Plus some flowers:

White mustard at the Fauna / Orchard crossroads


Solomon’s Seal (by Lucy Brook)



Oil seed rape in the West Field


Salad Burnett in the Orchard


Yellow Flag Iris in the Orchard


Red clover in the Orchard



Volunteer session 27th May

Apologies once again for posting this late. My excuse this time is that we were on holiday when Jonathan sent the message out. Here is his message

Greetings All,

There’ll be an evening volunteer session at Fairfield Orchard, Fauna and
Flora, on Wednesday May 27th, commencing at 6.30pm at the Shed.

Our tasks for this occasion…

a) Continuing to build the fence around the Shed.
b) Weeding the Shed green roof, especially removing sycamore saplings up
c) Replacing the lid on bird box 4.
d) Reviewing the safety of the fallen goat willow in the Orchard.
e) Digging out ragwort from the Hay and Carr House Meadows.
f) Removing the brambles enveloping some of our hedges.
g) Pruning back a bush obstructing the path near the fruit circle.
h) Cutting out a protruding stump endangering the mower near the fruit
i) Making a repair to the barbed wire near the cattle crossing.

We have three other items requiring your attention, which for the sake of
convenience I will number 1, 2 and 3:

1. The *Ragwort Working Party* will continue this year’s work on the dates

For the benefit of newcomers, the Fauna component of the Nature Reserves
still has a problem with infestation with the toxic plant ragwort. We are
obliged under our Stewardship agreement with Natural England to combat
this problem.
The work will be a mix of glysophate spot spraying and digging out.
Those not wanting to engage in spraying will have ample opportunity to
contribute by digging out.
If you do opt to spray full training will be provided.
There are morning and afternoon sessions on the dates below, starting at
9.30am and 2pm respectively. The meeting point is at the Shed.
Tuesday 26th May
Wednesday 27th May
Friday 29th May
Monday 1st June
Tuesday 2nd June
Wednesday 3rd June
Friday 5th June
Saturday 6th June

After June 6th progress will be reviewed and a decision made on how to
proceed to the next

2. *Wildflower Working Party*.

We wish to extend wildflower plots on the Reserves.
The first step will be a plot around the Fauna Stones. This will need the
turf removing and then preparation of the bed before an autumn sowing of
the seed.
Rather than trying to do this within our regular volunteer sessions, we
hope to establish a Wildflower Working Party.
If you would like to be part of this or want to know more before
committing then please email Ian at or
phone him on 07811 970 595.
For this to work we really need a working party convenor who can organise
things. If you think you could do this then contact Ian.

3. *Claver Hill*.

The local Claver Hill project has asked FA members to support their bid
for funding in the Aviva Funding Scheme.
This works by a voting system, with a deadline at the end of May.
To view details of Claver Hill use this link:

To cast votes you have to register from this web site with Aviva. It is
very straightforward.
The FA has decided not to apply through the Aviva Scheme so there is no
conflict of interest for FA members.

And that’s your lot for this time,

Best wishes,

Wildlife today

Whist working in the Reserves today we have observed three roe deer (this morning in Upper and Lower Sowerholme, this afternoon as brazen as you like in the middle of the Flora Field); a heron stood in the middle of the School Pond; two song thrush in the hedge alongside Lucy Brook; four lapwings calling over the Flora Field; two partridges set up from the Flora Field.

Baby otter attacked by swan

This afternoon near the swan nest towards deep cutting we saw a baby otter. Unfortunately so did a swan, which attacked the otter relentlessly and nearly killed it. The otter was stunned but eventually made it to some cover, where we heard it mewing for several minutes.

Roaming Roe Deer and Other Wild Tales

Last weekend two Roe Deer were spotted on Dallas Rd. then last Tuesday one (the one with the crooked antler) in an Aldcliffe Rd. front garden, towards the chippy. On Wednesday they both came into my back garden, ate the meadow buttercups in my newly created wildflower meadow and stripped the bark and lower branches off a recently acquired Corckscrew Hazel of which I am exceedingly fond.  I was probably not as cross though  as the owner of the chicken whose feathers were strewn over the FAUNA path – a fox presumably. And  the little black cat which was hunting in Big Meadow maybe deposited  a present of a little vole in some-one’s  slipper that  evening.

Back to the deer, Jon thinks that as they live by Freeman’s Pools they are getting accustomed to the sight and sounds of people and may more often stray into the urban area.

A Herd of Deer?

What number constitutes a herd? Disturbed two deer in Upper Sowerholme this morning. However, by the time I came round into the Hay Meadow, numbers had grown to three, running around Big Meadow. They then crossed Lucy Brook into Lower Sowerholme and were headed towards Flora Field.

Bird Walk May 21st Evening

We didn’t spot any unusual species but thanks to Jon and other knowledgeable members of the group we continued to get better at identification from song and flight pattern. We saw 21 different birds on the reserve, a family of swans on the canal and a brown hare in Flora Field. Species list:

Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Herring Gull, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Mallard, Shelduck ( a flock – quite a dramatic sight over Lower Sowerholme) , Moorhen, Heron, Sparrow Hawk (female), Starling, House Sparrow, Gold Finch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Robin, Magpie, Crow, Jay, Jackdaw.

We also bumped into some-one who had seen the otter on the canal that morning.

Jon has offered a walk in July when there should be some young around.

Thanks Jon

Another deer sighting

David Herrod sent me this photo he took of a roe deer in the reserve south of Lucy Brook on 19th May – it was pouring with rain and raced off ‘at tremendous speed’ so definitely another action photo to go with those recently taken!