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Southern’s in trouble…

Since 2016 in a damp area at Toad Holes Beck there has been a good population of Southern Marsh orchids peaking at 8 during 2017. However, I have noticed over the years that this area has become overgrown with Brambles, Nettles and Himalayan balsam and in 2019 none of these beautiful orchids could be found.

So on Saturday it was our group’s work day and we teamed up with Peter Gurney and Tia from YWT to tackle the problem. The first phase carried out by Peter was to strim the area of Bramble etc and then we all got to work raking away all the cuttings.

First phase clearing the vegetation to help the orchids

Naturally wildlife was never far away with Tia observing a possible Field Vole, then a Queen bee ( possible Buff -tailed ) was found, observed and put back quickly followed by a calling Great Spotted Woodpecker.

A special thank you to our friends from the YWT for their help and equipment and the tea and biscuits!!!

So in spring we will monitor the area and cut if required and fingers crossed the southern’s will return.

Storms bring destruction and joy…

It was certainly wellington weather today as I walked the patch. Caldene fields were soaked with water and mud which attracted 2 feeding Pied Wagtails. The path into Raw Nook NR was totally flooded but unfortunately the storm had brought down a Goat Willow tree.

However, there was good news and bad news as the pond is back to it’s fullest….just like the old days. But sadly I know that because of the leak in the pond it will soon dry out. This will be devastating news for spawning frog this spring if that happens….

Old faithful returns…

Hedge planting…

At Toad Holes Beck there is to be a new wildlife hedge planted on land which is owned by the Woodlands cricket club just off the footpath leading to Dyehouse road.

Today I met Stuart Tordoff groundsman at Woodlands on the site and gave him a hand digging over the soil. Stuart was telling me that there is about 150 sapling to be planted. These will consist of Hawthorn, Field Maple and Blackthorn. All of these trees/shrubs will be excellent for increasing bio-diversity in the area…

Also in the autumn our group could under plant the hedge with spring bulb and wild flowers to enhance the hedge further….So well done Stuart and a big thank you to Woodlands cricket club!

Moth Leaf mines…

Since the new year I have been trying to get to grips with the difficult subject of moth leaf mines. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leaf_miner


So today I went to Raw Nook Nr looking for Coptotriche marginea which is a common species and can be found during the winter on Bramble. The first patches of Bramble prove fruitless but near to the Heather I found two.

I have to be honest as I am learning about leaf mines I thought I had better get a second opinion and thankfully I was right. Whilst I have not actually seen the moth because I have found the evidence of breeding I can add this common species to my moth list.

There were also a nice pair of Goosander at Toad Holes Beck and 7 Bullfinches including 6 stunning males together..Wow

Workday surprise…

On Saturday our group cleared over growing vegetation from a footpath at Toad Holes Beck that runs at the back of the pond. It was a lovely but cold morning but we all soon got warm as some tackled the Bramble and other started litter picking.

The path was given a good make over and is now ready for Spring.

We all had a nice treat when a low skein of Pink-footed geese flew over to the S/W. Also I noticed in an area that we had cleared of Himalayan balsam in the summer a nice patch of new Rushes that had appeared. I have checked them out and believe they maybe Jointed Rush Juncus articulatus However, I have contacted Peter Gurney from YWT who is more botanically minded than me for his opinion.

The Elves are back…

Yesterday I visited Raw Nook Nr. The site was fairly quiet with Robins in full song inspired by the mild weather. Talking of the mild weather speaking to a dog walker he told me that during the last couple of early evenings he had seen a Bat flying around on the reserve. The bat is probably a Pipistrelle which has temporally woken up from hibernation.

What was nice to see was the lovely Scarlet Elf Cup mushrooms which are now showing really well. They can be seen from the main path. I counted at least thirty on show.

Did you know that in European folklore, it was said that wood elves drank morning dew from the Scarlet cups. Now who am I to say there are no wood elves down in Raw Nook Nr….hang on what that in the photo….

2019 visible migration statistics…

Pink-footed geese moving N/W

My visible migration is conducted from the watch point at Caldene fields, Low moor and gives a good indication of individual species and numbers of species passing through and beyond our immediate area.

2019 was an average year with a total of 72 species recorded. Field observation hours totaled 238 whereas I spent 212 hours in the field during 2018.

Highlights: Individual species observed : Ring Ouzel, Curlew, Harrier Sp, Great White Egret, Rose-ringed Parakeet and Whooper Swan.

+ = increase on 2018 total. – = decrease on 2018 total.

Autumn totals of Finches observed: Goldfinch 3,560+ . Linnet 61-, Greenfinch 315 +, Bullfinch 130 +, Lesser Redpoll 30 -, Brambling 26 -, Siskin 161 +

Thrushes: Redwing 22,035 +, Fieldfare 12,773 +,

Starling: 5,332 –

Pink-footed Goose: 8,716 +

End of year bird watch…

Today I thought i would have a bit of fun and see how many birds I could observe in the Low moor & Oakenshaw area. I started at Caldene fields and quickly found the normal garden birds followed by Pied Wagtail and a nice feeding Grey Wagtail.

Raw Nook Nr produced a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a number of Bullfinch. I entered TH Beck and had a quick scan for my old mate the Otter..but no luck. However, I found a Water Rail which will probably over winter at the site. My list stood at 30 species. I then went to Harold Park lake and added Mute Swan, Tufted duck, LBB Gull and Canada Goose.

Tufted Duck at Harold Park lake

I then moved onto Park dam and found 3 Little Grebe but sadly no Great Crested Grebes were found at either site. So the final tally was 37 different species with no sightings of a Greenfinch or Fieldfare.

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