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.