New all-weather footpaths in Cabin Wood. Our visitors will know that the footpaths that run through and around the perimeter of Cabin Wood are grass and wood chip or, in wet weather, mud!
With funding from the People’s Postcode Lottery we decided to lay an all-weather surface on the main footpaths. This would be a major and time-consuming project but fortunately we had help from a local group from the Prince’s Trust as part of their 12 week Team programme.
13 young people, with their supervisors from Ormskirk Team 12 arrived on 24 October. They soon mastered the skills of constructing the footpath and were well within schedule to complete the main footpath resurfacing.
We were lucky to have 2 weeks of mainly fine, dry weather to complete the project and we were able to resurface some of the minor footpaths within the wood as well.
Some of our own volunteers worked with the Prince’s Trust Team over the 2 weeks and were essential in helping to achieve a successful project. The Team 12 supervisors also commented that this was the best community project that they had undertaken!
Her Worship the Mayor of West Lancs Borough Council Liz Savage was guest of honour at the Completion Celebration where the students gave a presentation and took her on a guided tour. The above photo is of the Team 12 students, their supervisors, Jonathan our Reserve Manager and some of our volunteers together with her Worship the Mayor.
We hope you will come and visit us to see the new paths for yourselves!
Amazing aerial views of Gorse Hill Nature Reserve. Sam from Stratus Imagery Ltd visited the Reserve yesterday and took these great images posted on YouTube
click here to view
See also our facebook and twitter pages, links are on the Home Page
Apple Weekend was a great success. Thank you to everyone who came and supported our event on 8th and 9th October. We had approximately 700 visitors. The weather played its part as well; it stayed dry and, on Sunday especially, we had lovely warm sunshine. Here are some photos taken over the weekend:
Hay barn becomes apple barn or, as one child asked
“Why have you hay in your apple barn?”
Over 300 people went on the orchard tours
One tour had 80 people!
What a surprise in the orchard – this Ribston Pippin was in blossom in October!
Is it late or is it early?
Apple juicing and tasting were very popular again this year
As always refreshments went down a treat, especially the homemade cakes!
The fine weather enabled us to have an outdoor cafe area.
Yet another Water Shrew! Plus some sunbathing insects.
Believe it or not we caught our 3rd water shrew in 3 consecutive months in our small mammal survey. This one lacks obvious distinctive white ear tufts.
Water Shrews have stiff hairs on their back feet and the underside of their tail to aid swimming. If you look closely you can see its nostrils on the upper side of its snout so that it can breathe whilst swimming.
The day was sunny and surfaces were nice and warm for sunbathing, especially the metal gates into the meadows. This Common Darter took advantage of the warmth
and shared the top of a gate with this fly.
This Marmalade Hoverfly was enjoying the sun in Willowbank Wood ride. Marmalade Hoverflies are possibly the most common and widespread in Britain and can be seen most months of the year. Theyare found in gardens, hedgerows and woodlands in sunny spots.
Although the 5 Acre wildflower hay meadow has been cut for hay, we left a wide margin around the pond. This Common Blue butterfly flitted from plant to plant in this margin looking for food.
It rested for a few minutes and then very obligingly opened its wings to enjoy the warmth of the sun
Creatures small and tiny! A little sunshine and time to look around, it’s amazing what you can see
This Speckled Wood was in pristine condition in Bluebell Wood
and this Common Carder Bumblebee was making the most of the wildflowers in the rides
In North Wood this Common Green Shieldbug nymph stopped to rest in the sunshine
as did these Scorpion flies
There are 3 species of Scorpion Fly that live in the UK and are difficult to tell apart – we have used the general term Scorpion Fly for these photos.
Mating for the male Scorpion Fly can be dangerous – the female could kill him – so he presents her with a dead insect as a gift as part of the courtship – better safe than sorry!
The moth trap in Cabin Wood attracted these shieldbugs
This Birch Shieldbug actually found its way into the trap
Life in the meadows can be full of drama, this Cat’s-ear flower was the battleground in this life and death struggle.
Walk along the public footpath up to the Outcrop and peer into the brambles and the nettles – you might see this little (5-7mm) Nettle-tap moth. Its around from April to November and flies by day.
A windy day for a walk, plus Water Shrews, butterflies, dragons and moths. The West Lancs Walking Festival walk at Gorse Hill was on 7th August, this was one of our normal monthly Sunday opening days so we attracted other visitors as well as those for the walk into parts of the Reserve not normally open to the public.
We had 22 visitors on the walk and, despite the very strong winds we managed to walk up to the highest point on the Reserve. Unfortunately the strong winds meant that we did not see any of the dragonflies that normally patrol the ponds in the more exposed meadows but once in the calm and shelter of North Wood butterflies smothered the buddleia and surrounding vegetation enjoying the sunshine.
We also managed to see some dragonflies in this woodland, mainly Common Darters
until we neared the end of our walk in the relative shelter of 5 Acre pond where a male Emperor Dragonfly was patrolling.
After our walk the Cabin Cafe was a welcome sight!
Our small mammal survey in Bluebell Wood always provides one or more surprises every year, this year is not an exception. The woodland is edged by Aughton Cliff Brook and also includes grassy rides and a series of ponds as well as mixed woodland and hedgerows. The usual species we encounter are Wood Mice, Common Shrews, Bank Voles and Field Voles. We occasionally find a Pygmy Shrew and Water Shrew.
Until this year we had not found a Water Shrew since 2012 so we thrilled when we found this charming shrew with its white tufts in July.
This month we found another!
Our moth survey is also keeping us busy, especially now the weather is warmer.
Here is a selection of our recent moths:
(This micro moth flies in the daytime and was photographed in North Wood)
Dawn Chorus 30th July and a colourful moth! It was just getting light as we set off at 4.45 a.m. and, unlike some other years, it was pleasantly warm at this early hour. There was hardly any wind, the rain stayed away and the sun came out. Perfect bird watching weather.
Just out of the driveway we came across this juvenile Robin hopping around looking for food.
The Outcrop is always a good vantage point to watch for birds and we were rewarded with a flock of 40+ Lapwing flying close to the perimeter of the Reserve and another large flock flying much further away. These birds are on the Conservation Red List as an endangered species.
Walking along the public footpath we came across a flock of Linnets on the telegraph wires enjoying the sunshine. Several flocks of Linnets were seen during the morning, approximately 70 birds in total.
Our sightings list for the morning:
Swallows, Blackbirds, Robins, Yellowhammers, Tawny Owl, Carrion Crows, Wrens, Woodpigeon, Chiffchaffs, House Sparrows, Song Thrushes, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Pheasants, Greenfinches, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Magpies, Bullfinches, Jays, Blue Tits, Whitethroats, Linnets, Willow Warblers, Lapwing, Stock Doves, Long-tailed Tits, Mallards, Tree Sparrows, Corn Buntings, Starlings, Black-headed Gull, Goldfinches (including juveniles), Swifts, Collared Doves, Coal Tits, Great Tits, Chaffinches, Dunnocks,
37 species in total.
Our moth trap last week again attracted numerous moths. We had 37 macro moth species, the most colourful was this Garden Tiger
When it is disturbed it shows this very colourful red hindwing with black spots
Tigers have stripes not spots, the stripes are on the abdomen!
An evening out in Parbold, new bee hives, lots of moths and butterflies and the start of haymaking.
Parbold Wildlife Group visited our nature reserve some time ago and now the summer is here they invited us to join them for an evening walk in their meadow and woodland. The Chapel Meadow site is at the far end of Bramble Way in Parbold and there is plenty of room to park.
Tuesday 19th July was one of the hottest days of the year so far and the sun was still strong as we gathered at 7pm for our stroll.
Margaret gave a brief overview of the history of the site before we set off
and soon we were ambling along the perimeter path of the meadow identifying a variety of wildflowers and grasses in the evening sunshine.
Leaving the meadow to explore the woodland area we wandered down the track towards the canal bridge where we stopped to admire the views and then turned back towards the meadow and the copse.
In the wood we found this amazing slime mould, the colour has not come through very well here but it was a bright greeny/yellow. Yet to be identified!
After our walk we adjourned to the Red Lion in Newburgh for some well earned refreshment.
We had a lovely evening and would like to thank Parbold Wildlife Group for inviting us and making us so welcome. Their meadow is well worth a visit, you can find details on their facebook page (see link above).
Our woodland rides are full of wildflowers at this time of year and we are pleased to say that Brian, a local beekeeper, has brought a couple of his hives to Willowbank Wood. They arrived on Friday 22 July and the following morning Brian came to check on how they were doing.
The wildflowers surrounding the hives were full of bees, clearly they had settled in well.
The moth trap is in full swing and had attracted a couple of hundred moths one warm night last week. These are just a few
This Acleris forssakaleana is a micro moth just 6-8mm long! Tiny but beautiful.
We not only found moths in the trap. This Shaded Broad-bar is a grassland moth and can be seen during the day in our meadows.
The sunshine also brought out the butterflies.
This Green-veined White was feasting in North Wood on flowering buddleia
this Peacock had found some ragwort in the woodland,
thistles proved popular with Gatekeepers
although others preferred to sunbathe!
Summertime of course also means haymaking time so our volunteers have been out and about pulling any patches of thistles and ragwort in the meadows to ensure nice clean hay. This last weekend saw the start of some of our meadows being cut and, providing the weather holds for flicking and drying, the hay can be baled. Fingers crossed for dry weather!
National Meadows Day and a lovely surprise in our small mammal survey.
We put out the photo displays in the meadow for National Meadows Day the day before the event. It poured with rain as we trudged around the meadow in our wellies and waterproofs putting up the boards and signs. We were keeping our fingers crossed for a fine day for the event itself.
The rain cleared overnight and Saturday was dry with some sunny spells, although very windy. This enabled the Teddies and their Friends to have their picnic in the centre of the mown maze in the grass.
Activities included making a buzzy bee
and there were places to sit and just enjoy the views
For more photos of the event just visit our twitter page.
Our small mammal survey is showing that we have a healthy population of Common Shrews, Woodmice and Bank Voles in Bluebell Wood and in our survey yesterday we also had 2 Field Voles, which is a promising sign as numbers of this species have declined.
Our lovely surprise was to find a Water Shrew, the first since 2012!
To follow up news of our Top Bar Beehive and the rescued swarm of bees (see below). The original nest of the rescued bees had fallen to the ground killing many of the bees and it was thought possibly the queen as well. Unfortunately we found that the queen had been killed in the fall and there was no time to introduce a new queen to the surviving colony before they abandoned our new beehive.
Busy, busy, busy! Life is never dull at Gorse Hill, there is always plenty to do.
Fred G, one of our volunteers made this magnificent Top Bar Beehive – this type of beehive has been featured on Gardener’s World on BBC (for those of you who watch it). We have sited it in Margaret’s Meadow and on Saturday 18th June a local beekeeper brought a rescued swarm of honey bees to see if they would take up residence. We await developments.
Our survey work continues. Mixed news on the nest box front. This nest box, well hidden from predators, was used by a pair of Blue Tits, 7 chicks hatched (you can just about see all of them in this photo) but only 5 fledged. A Coal Tit nest had 12 eggs, 12 chicks and all 12 fledged!
Our moth trap continues to yield plenty of moths to identify – these were some of the easier ones to put a name to!
Paths have been mown in the 5 Acre wildflower meadow in preparation for our National Meadows Day event on 2 July. You can now gain access to the meadow from one of the paths in Cabin Wood and you can meander along these grassy tracks amongst grasses gently waving in the wind and get close to the wildflowers and visit one of our new ponds to watch dragonflies and great diving beetles.
This photograph was taken in the 5 Acre meadow when we held our Wildflower and Butterfly walk on 12 June. Fortunately the weather stayed dry, albeit a little chilly. The walk was led as usual by Hilary Bedford who identified the grasses and wildflowers not only in that meadow but also on the public areas of the Outcrop. If you walk along the public footpath see if you can spot the Bee Orchid, Heath Bedstraw and Pineapple Weed. We thank Hilary for a very entertaining and interesting walk.
Wildflowers attract bees, butterflies and a variety of polinating insects
When you come and visit us you will also have new picnic benches to sit on! We have put some in the picnic area outside the Visitor Centre, some by Seldom Pond in Cabin Wood and one in the 5 Acre Meadow together with a bench.
These benches were bought with a grant from the Postcode Local Trust (Postcode Lottery) and also from theLancashire Environmental Fund Green Grant.
A successful newt evening. The weather was kind to us as we gathered to hear Jonathan tell us about the newt population on the Reserve and in the twilight we set off for Seldom Pond armed with torches, nets, tanks and trays.
As we all gathered on the boardwalk, darkness soon fell and the torchlight penetrated the depths of the water.
It was fascinating watching the newts rise to the surface for a gulp of air and then swim back down. We watched Ramshorn snails crawling on the vegetation, Caddisfly larvae, Great Diving beetles and dragonfly larvae swimming.
Some of the newts were gently scooped up in nets and put in tanks for us to look at more closely
We released the newts and other creatures back into the water and returned to the Cabin for well earned refreshments.
More surveys started and some apple blossom in the orchard. A busy season of surveys ahead.
The small mammal survey work started last month continues and the nest box monitoring survey is well underway.
Many of the boxes have nests in various stages and eggs laid and incubated. These survey findings will be reported to the BTO.
Our moth trap has started to yield results now Spring is here. We did not have the new Robinson moth trap this time last season so the moths we are finding at this time of year are new for our records. (More photos can be seen on our Gorse Hill moth sub page)
This Hebrew Character has very distinct markings
and the scale pattern on this Common Quaker shows really well in the sunlight.
This tiny little micro moth is approximately 5mm long. It flies at dawn and in sunshine from late March to May. It is a lovely bronze colour with shinning purple spots on its wings. If you look closely you can see the spiky scales on its head and face.
Our Heritage Orchard is coming to life, the cold weather set back the blossom. Hopefully this Irish Peach will produce some more apples for us this year.
Bluebells getting ready for their ‘big day’ and other news. The recent cold spell has delayed our bluebells a little but many are now showing through and coming into flower just in time for our Bluebell Sunday Walk on 1 May.
Our bluebells are not just confined to Bluebell Wood, these are showing well in our car park entrance to Cabin Wood and
these in Willowbank Wood will also be seen on our Sunday walk.
It’s not just bluebells coming into flower, this Lesser Celandine can be seen along the public footpaths. Did you know that Wordsworth was so fond of this flower that he had them carved on his tombstone?
Mark was out and about with his camera again and captured this wonderful image of a peregrine flying overhead.
Survey season is with us again and we will soon be busy monitoring nest boxes, moths and small mammals.
We started our small mammal survey with a small test run in our new woodland in Gorsey Croft; the highest point on the Reserve. The weather brightened for the opening of the traps on Saturday 9 April following cold, wet and windy weather. We found 2 Bank Voles, 1 Woodmouse and 2 Field Voles. A good start to the season.
New bird species for the Reserve and other news. On Saturday 2nd April a Nuthatch was seen in Cabin Wood at one of the feeding stations. This was the first recorded sighting of a Nuthatch on the Reserve and is a sign that our woodlands are maturing. The next day we heard our first Chiffchaff of the season. A good weekend!
Apart from short section, all our internal hedges have now been layed. This includes Cabin Wood so visitors can now see the panoramic views across the Lancashire Plain.
The prolonged period of wet weather made our footpaths in Cabin Wood very, very muddy. Fortunately we managed to chip lots of the brash created by our hedgelaying and have spread this on the perimeter paths
and the paths leading to Heron Hide overlooking Seldom Pond.
Throughout Cabin Wood a wide variety of lichen can be seen, this was close to the perimeter path by the newly laid hedge.
We are opening access from Cabin Wood into the 5 Acre Meadow, the first step was to take out small sections of the perimeter hedgerow to enable two pedestrian gates to be put in. The ideal time to make a start was when we were hedgelaying and whilst the uprooted sections of hedge could be replanted elsewhere.
Most of our ponds, including the new ponds put in at the end of 2014 beginning of 2015, have frog spawn.
We have experimented with a new millet seed mix for our Tree Sparrows based on a recommendation by our friend Liz. We usually have a number of Tree Sparrows visiting the feeding station at Seldom Pond in Cabin Wood so we have located this new millet seed feeder there. It is proving popular with our Tree Sparrows and visitors can watch them feeding at this station from Heron Hide as well as the from seating area by the pond.
Snowdrop Sunday a successful day. We would like to thank everybody who supported us on Snowdrop Sunday. We had 110 visitors! Although everywhere was very muddy the weather stayed fine.
What have we been doing? Work continued right up to Christmas and, although there was some time off for festivities, Jonathan and a hardy band of volunteers cracked on with our plan to lay all internal hedges over the winter of 2015/2016, obviously out of season for breeding birds and whilst growth is dormant (so we don’t kill the hedge!). A few years ago we laid the hedge on the boundary between Triangle Wood and Triangle Meadow and started, but did not finish, the hedge bordering North Wood. We have a lot of hedges and work continues!
Hedgelaying, in simple terms, involves partially cutting through stems (pleaching)
laying them over and weaving them together to produce a thick living barrier which regrows from the base.
Once layed a hedge will only need regular trimming for up to 50 years!
Other news. The weather has been very wet and mild so all our ponds are full and the ground is very soft and muddy. Most of the daffodils in daffodil Walk have flowered and leaf buds are bursting on the trees. The hard frost and ice on Saturday 16th January must have come as a bit of a shock!
The water level in Seldom Pond in Cabin Wood had risen up to the boardwalk and the small island with its oak submerged – this froze!
Photos from 16 January
Also on 16th January our local bird ringer Chris decided to brave the bitter cold in the very early morning to come and do some mist netting and ringing.
Birds fly into this very fine net and drop down, unharmed into pockets either side of the mist net. The birds are then carefully retrieved and popped into bags for safety and to help them keep calm.
Chris puts a ring on their leg, takes wing measurements, weighs them and checks their muscle/fat and general health. He records all these details against the ring number and lets the birds go. All this takes a matter of minutes.
Chris mainly caught Blue Tits, Great Tits and Robins but also this beautiful female Bullfinch. As you can see she was not distressed at all by her experience!