Apple Weekend 7th & 8th October – shame about the weather!
Every year we have enjoyed glorious weather for our October Apple Festival so our luck was bound to break at some point, unfortunately it was this year.
Saturday was extremely wet. We are grateful to the hardy souls that ventured forth to support us.
Many of our apples had been harvested and were ready for sale. Some apples had been juiced, bottled and pasteurised.
Taste before you buy is a regular feature over our weekend.
As always it was very popular.
Some of our heritage apple varieties can double as a culinary or dessert apple depending on your taste. Yorkshire Aromatic, a culinary variety proved very popular as ‘an eater’ with lots of the children but too sour for their parents!
Sunday saw the weather improve and so did our visitor numbers. Whist we did not get sunshine, it was dry and not too chilly.
The orchard tours were popular again this year, including the quiz for the younger generation to find apples to match the clues.
Jonathan was on hand to tell visitors about the trees, the history of the orchard and the varieties, giving pruning and planting tips.
The Northern Fruit Group, who visited in February to advise and help with pruning, were on hand in the barn to advise visitors and help with any issues they had regarding planting, diseases and maintenance of their trees as well as helping to identify apple varieties. Their help was greatly appreciated.
Our bottles of apple juice sold well and this year we have used screw top caps.
There were regular apple juicing demonstrations throughout both days with samples of freshly squeezed apple juice to taste.
In one of our woodlands (Willowbank Wood) Brian, a local beekeeper, has put some of his bee hives. Some visitors will have seen them if they have been on any of our guided walks in that part of the Reserve. On Sunday, Brian brought some of the honey he had harvested for us to sell in the cafe, it was snapped up in no time!
We thank all our visitors for making our Apple Festival a success despite the weather. We also thank our volunteers for all their hard work in the preparation for the event and for their assistance over the weekend.
An overdue catch up! Time has flown by and as always we have been busy.
We hear rumours of Roe deer in the area but have never actually seen one ourselves until May this year. A complete surprise and very long distance images
but the white chin and white rump identify the species as Roe deer.
It has been seen in other areas of the Reserve since these images were taken.
In March we posted an image of the swift nest box built by Jim and Louise Bentley from Bolton & Bury Swifts. Finally in May it was attached to a telegraph pole, trundled across the Reserve and erected in one of our far meadows, the solar panels wired up and swift calls are intermittently played.
Abundant on bramble flowers were Volucella pellucens, one of the largest flies in Britain
they had plenty of bramble flowers to choose from across the Reserve.
They could also have a change and visit the pale pink or white Dog roses
In June we held our annual Wildflower and Butterfly Walk, led as always by Hilary Bedford. We walked through Cabin Wood to Seldom Pond
and then down into the 5 Acre wildflower meadow. Stopping at the pond there were Broad-bodied Chaser dragonflies and a male Emperor dragonfly
There were plenty of wildflowers to see, especially in the 5 Acre meadow
The walk moved up to the Outcrop
These Burnett moths left the safety of the long grass for a close up photo!
and we found ladybird larvae along the public footpath.
On 2 July we held our Meadows Day for the second year running. It was a free event with a chance for visitors to wander around the 5 Acre wildflower meadow. Our cafe did a good trade in teas, coffee and homemade cakes
and the children enjoyed making buzzy bees and visiting the teddy bears picnic maze.
We were so lucky with the weather – it rained the day before!
You can see more images on our twitter feed – see link on the Home Page
Our moth survey continues more or less all year, weather permitting, but the trap has been moved into the 5 Acre wildflower meadow to make the most of the abundance of wildflowers attracting moths before it gets cut for hay. We regularly attract over 300 moths to the trap in this location! Here is a very small selection:
The Drinker and Ghost moths are ancient species and do not have mouth parts to enable them to feed
This Spectacle moth has to be viewed head on to see why it lives up to its name
Spring has well and truly sprung and some surprise finds!
Mid March some of our snowdrops were still in flower and putting on a show. We have taken the opportunity to plant more snowdrops ‘in the green’ in Cabin Wood in preparation for our Snowdrop Sunday next year!
Hawthorn is now in full leaf and in some parts of the Reserve flower buds are forming.
Needless to say Blackthorn is in flower across the Reserve and
so are Goat Willow catkins.
Goat Willow is commonly known as pussy willow after the silky grey male flowers that look like cat paws.
Bees are buzzing around the bee hives in Willowbank Wood now there are some flowers around
and frog spawn has been seen in Seldom Pond in Cabin Wood. Usually the frogs spawn close to the boardwalk but this year chose a different part of the pond.
At the back of the barn we are building a lean-to so that we can store the ‘outdoor’ educational equipment and materials that need to be kept dry.
Jim and Louise Bentley from Bolton & Bury Swifts have kindly constructed a swift nest box so that we can, hopefully, provide a nesting site for swifts.
Once it is attached to a pole, the swift tower will need to be erected. It will be quite a challenge! We will keep you posted.
The first strange sighting on Saturday 11 March was this slime mold . Spotted in North Wood on the stump of a Scots Pine. It looked like someone had squirted foam on the top of the stump and it had a spongy texture. A possible ID is Tubifera ferruginosa.
The following Saturday it had turned to ‘brown dust’ – presumably spores.
The second strange sighting on the same day was this Great Diving Beetle in the moth trap!
To give a sense of scale the diameter of the container in 4.5 cms.
It was quite a shock to find this hiding under the egg boxes at the bottom of the trap. The trap was only a few yards away from Seldom Pond – a more suitable habitat for this beetle!
The more usual finds in our moth trap:
Pine Beauty moths usually rest with their wings close to their bodies but this one posed nicely to let us see the beautiful colours!
We started moth trapping on 2/3 March so these are new species for our records.
January and February 2017 catch up. The new all-weather paths in Cabin Wood had their first taste of winter weather and, apart from one or two small puddles, have
stood up well and look good.
The path leading down from the stone frog sculpture towards the exit in Cabin Wood looks inviting in the dappled sunlight. The path leading from the car park to access the 5 Acre Meadow has had a new gate fitted, as have the other access points from Cabin Wood into the meadow. (Please keep the gates shut, especially when sheep are in the meadow!)
Some internal paths in Cabin Wood are still being covered in wood chip to add a natural look in contrast to the all-weather paths and are quieter to walk on when trying to catch a glimpse of an elusive bird!
In front of Seldom Pond, where the ground can get very wet and muddy, we decided to construct a boardwalk path made of railway sleepers, raised on concrete blocks and covered in wire to prevent slipping. Unfortunately the very cold and then wet weather halted the work and an alternate safe route has been made from wood chip.
Seldom Pond on a sunny February morning looks tranquil and the lack of leaves on the trees allows for lovely reflections.
At this time of year when birds are looking for food we can usually count 3 or 4 Robins around Seldom Pond at feeding time. These 2 Robins are particularly cheeky.
Other cheeky and friendly creatures on the Reserve at the moment are the grazing sheep. We manage our wildflower hay meadows over the autumn and winter with sheep and the bird feed round volunteers can always be assured of a warm welcome from them, especially when struggling to open and close gates!
A variety of fungi can be seen on standing dead wood as well as on the ground. New life and colour are emerging across the Reserve:
These daffodils are in ‘Daffodil Walk’ leading down to the Heritage Orchard.
This new pine cone looks like it has been made of plastic!
Gorse is flowering across the Reserve.
Hazel catkins are opening on many of the Hazel trees.
On 4th February we held our ‘Pruning Day’ where people were invited to come and help us prune our Heritage Orchard, experienced ‘pruners’ to add their expertise and ‘novice pruners’ wishing to learn.
A small group arrived for each session and Jonathan ensured all novices had sufficient knowledge before being let loose with the secateurs!
We could not have wished for better weather; the sun shone for most of the day, although there was still a cold nip in the air.
We were especially grateful to Joan from the Northern Fruit Group
she travelled all the way from York to help us with the pruning and instruction. Her knowledge and hard work were invaluable.