What a caterpillar!
This caterpillar is a Pale Tussock moth larva and was found in our Heritage Orchard. The Tussock moths get their name from the tufts of hair on the back of the larvae as can be seen in this photo. The hairs can cause skin irritation in some people.
You would imagine that such a bright caterpillar would turn into a really colourful moth – the most colourful feature on the male Pale Tussock is the strongly feathered orange-brown antennae!
The female moth is even paler!
Apple Weekend. What a mixture of weather! Saturday we had sunshine, Sunday we had rain. We thank all our visitors who came on both days to support our Apple Festival Event.
We also thank all our volunteers who came and helped over the weekend, not all are in the above photo.
This year our apple sales were in the ‘Old Barn’
We managed to clear an open space to put out our tables and displays of apples
We had a coconut shy this year which proved popular with both ‘young and old’.
Some of our first visitors arrived right on opening time
Our apple juice demonstrations were in the ‘New Barn’ this year and we had a new small demonstration press which made it much easier to show the juicing process close up
Freshly pressed apple juice could be tasted
Our pasteurised apple juice was for sale
The bottles have a new bright design label this year
Our cafe was open selling tea, coffee, juice and delicious homemade cakes and was always busy.
The orchard tours of the Heritage Orchard were popular, with Jonathan barely getting a break between the tours
Saturday tours were in the sunshine
You needed to be wrapped up for the Sunday tours!
Last but not least the apple spiralizer which peels, cores and slices the apple was a popular attraction again this year and is a fun way to get children to taste and eat apples.
Apple juice continues to be on sale £3 a bottle and we will still have apples for a few weeks at £1 per lb. So pop in any Wednesday and Saturday.
Before the Rains.
A window of fine weather allowed us to start cutting for hay
Once cut the grass needs to be flicked to aid drying and disperse wildflower and grass seeds
This is our 5 acre wildflower meadow after cutting. What a difference!
On a brighter note – Guelder Rose berries really shone
and blackberries were ripening nicely.
Oak trees developed acorns
and Rowan berries competed for colour with Purple Loosestrife.
We even found a well hidden Brimstone butterfly. Can you spot it?
Our latest refurbished sign – a beautiful painting by Lelia of a Little Owl.
Yellowhammer Walking Route Re-launch and early August sights.
On 4 August West Lancs Borough Council re-launched the Yellowhammer Walking Route. We had been working with Lisa from West Lancs Council regarding the new map and leaflet and the launch was scheduled to coincide with our usual Sunday opening.
Yellowhammer Route Sign
Photo by Su Haselton
To help mark the route Derek had the idea of making two sign boards; he carved out the lettering which Mitch painted, Lelia painted the Yellowhammer and then Mitch varnished the boards. We put out one of the boards at the start of the route through the Reserve in time for the inaugural walk.
The walk set off from the railway station car park in Ormskirk about 11 am and arrived at Gorse Hill just over half an hour later. We provided tea/coffee and cake for the 40+ walkers.
Chris, one of the Council’s Parks and Countryside Rangers headed up the walk.
The Mayor Cllr Gaynar Owen came to support the inaugural walk and joined Jonathan for the photo in our 5 Acre Meadow.
The Town Crier helped the launch at the Station car park and came to see them off on the second leg of their walk.
Many of the visitors had not seen or heard a Yellowhammer so we had a display board giving information about this iconic Red Listed bird; a bird of conservation concern.
Jonathan gave the walkers an overview of Gorse Hill Nature Reserve and what we do to help provide habitat and conserve birds species such as the Yellowhammer as well as other flora and fauna.
Soon it was time for the walk to continue on the rest of the Yellowhammer route.
Outside the Cabin we have a small buddleia and this time of year it really attracts insects, especially butterflies.
This year there are lots of Painted Lady butterflies and our little buddleia is becoming a real visitor attraction.
Seldom Pond in Cabin Wood is a beautiful place to sit when the weather is fine and at the moment there is an abundance of Water Mint
Photo by Su Haselton
and Teasels are beginning to show their lilac/purple flowers; already attracting a hoverfly. Did you know there are over 280 species of hoverflies in Britain? (Information from NatureSpot)
In the centre ride in our newest woodland Gorsey Croft we found this small patch of Scarlet Pimpernel growing . These tiny flowers close up in bad weather leading to it’s common names of ‘shepherd’s weatherglass’ and ‘old man’s weathervane’. (Information from Plantlife)
Photo by Su Haselton
Several of our Pendunculate oak trees have Knopper Galls. These galls develop as a chemically induced distortion of growing acorns caused by the Knopper Oak Gall wasp (Andricus quercuscalicis) laying its eggs within the buds.
What have we been doing?
Our Blossom and Bluebell Sunday opening on 5 May was a great success with over 70 visitors in the afternoon and the Heritage Orchard and our English Bluebells in the woodlands put on a great show. We were delighted so many people came.
May also saw our Dawn Chorus event. As usual we gathered in the darkness at 3.45 am, many of us still sleepy! Graham Clarkson led the walk again for us this year and we were pleased to welcome new people to this event. Overall we identified 35 bird species during the walk including the iconic Yellowhammer and the not so colourful Corn Bunting. We thank Graham for leading the walk for us and also to Fred who cooked the very welcome bacon barms for our breakfast.
Quietly one May morning on the bird feeding round a Roe deer clearly did not expect to see anybody in the woodland.
We held our first combined Newt and Moth Evening on 15 June and welcomed 17 visitors. It was still quite light when we started so we were able to enjoy a magnificent sunset watching the sun go down over the Lancashire Plain. Once we had set up the torches and the moth lights darkness soon took effect. Unfortunately not many newts showed themselves in the pond but there was plenty of other aquatic life to see.
We attracted eight species of moths: Middle-barred minor, Common Swift, Mottled Beauty, Brimstone, Common Wave, Light Emerald, Silver Ground carpet and a male Pale Tussock.
The bright yellow Brimstones and the pale green Light Emeralds were the favourites with the younger generation.
We held our annual Meadows Day yesterday with 90+ visitors coming along. The weather was beautiful enabling our visitors to enjoy the meadow, the wildflowers and insects at their best. We also put some tables and chairs outside for people to sit and enjoy their drinks and cakes.
Hilary led two walks in the 5 Acre meadow, not only identifying a wide variety of wildflowers and different grasses (who knew there were so many!), but also pointing out and catching several interesting insects for people to see close up.
As usual the Teddy Bears and their pals turned up for a picnic
Children could also make buzzy bees and if you look at our Twitter feed (just follow the link on the Home Page) you can see some of the wonderful creations.
Thank you to all our volunteers for their hard work yesterday, to Hilary for her interesting walks and to our visitors for coming to support us.
What else have we spotted along the way?
This lovely Four-spotted Chaser was in the long meadow grass in Rough Hey on Saturday.
Also on Saturday, in Margaret’s Meadow, this male Six-spot Burnet moth (the lower insect with the red spots) was paying very close attention to a newly emerged female.
Several Nursery Web Spider (Pisaura mirabilis) webs could be seen yesterday in the meadow but Hilary managed to find one where the spider was on top of her web guarding her eggs.
Welcome to 2019. Spring has definitely sprung and at the moment the trees are in blossom, bluebells and cowslips are in flower in many parts of the Reserve. Do use the link on the Home Page to our Twitter feed to see some gorgeous photos of the blossom in the Heritage Orchard
The main pathway into Cabin Wood looks wonderful in the April sunshine
The first moth trapping of the season saw several varieties of species, including
but the real find was a very nice Chocolate-tip