Out and About at Gorse Hill

What a caterpillar! 

Pale Tussock larva
Photo by Will Matthew

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Male Pale Tussock moth
Photo by Su Haselton

 

 

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!

 

 

Female Pale Tussock moth
Photo by Su Haselton

 

 

 

The female moth is even paler!

 

 

 

 

 

 

(21.10.19)

 

 

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. 

Our Volunteers
photo by Arran Heap

 We also thank all our volunteers who came and helped over the weekend, not all are in the above photo.

Sales in the Old Barn this year
Photo by Janine Melvin

 

 

 

 

This year our apple sales were in the ‘Old Barn’ 

 

 

 

Apple sales
photo by Arran Heap

 

 

 

We managed to clear an open space to put out our tables and displays of apples

 

 

 

 

Getting the Coconut Shy Ready
Photo by Su Haselton

 

 

We had a coconut shy this year which proved popular with both ‘young and old’.  

 

 

 

 

Ready for visitors
Photo by Janine Melvin

 

 

 

Some of our first visitors arrived right on opening time

 

 

 

 

 

Demonstration Apple Press
Photo by Janine Melvin

 

 

 

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

 

 

Juicing Demonstration
Photo by Su Haselton

 

 

 

 

Freshly pressed apple juice could be tasted

 

 

Juicing Demonstration
Photo by Su Haselton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apple Juice for sale
Photo by Janine Melvin

 

 

 

Our pasteurised apple juice was for sale

 

 

 

 

Our new label design
Photo by Janine Melvin

 

 

 

 

The bottles have a new bright design label this year

 

 

 

Cafe
Photo by Janine Melvin

 

 

 

 

Our cafe was open selling tea, coffee, juice and delicious homemade cakes and was always busy.

 

 

 

 

Saturday Orchard Tour
Photo by Su Haselton

 

 

 

The orchard tours of the Heritage Orchard were popular, with Jonathan barely getting a break between the tours

 

 

 

Saturday Sunshine
Photo by Su Haselton

 

 

Saturday tours were in the sunshine

 

 

Sunday change in the weather
Photo by Su Haselton

 

 

 

 

You needed to be wrapped up for the Sunday tours! 

 

 

 

Spiralizer in Action
Photo by Janine Melvin

 

 

 

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.

(15.10.19)

 

Before the Rains. 

Cutting North Meadow for hay
Photo by Su Haselton

 

 

A window of fine weather allowed us to start cutting for hay

 

 

 

 

Flicking cut hay
Photo by Su Haselton

 

 

 

Once cut the grass needs to be flicked to aid drying and disperse wildflower and grass seeds

 

 

 

Where have all the flowers gone?
Photo by Su Haselton

 

 

 

This is our 5 acre wildflower meadow after cutting.  What a difference!

 

 

 

Guelder Rose Berries
Photo by Su Haselton

 

 

 

On a brighter note – Guelder Rose berries really shone

 

 

 

Blackberries
Photo by Su Haselton

 

 

 

 

and blackberries were ripening nicely.

 

 

 

Acorns
Photo by Su Haselton

 

 

Oak trees developed acorns

 

 

 

 

Margaret’s Meadow copse
Photo by Su Haselton

 

 

 

and Rowan berries competed for colour with Purple Loosestrife.

 

 

 

Brimstone Butterfly in hiding
Photo by Su Haselton

 

 

 

We even found a well hidden Brimstone butterfly.  Can you spot it?

 

 

 

Margaret’s Meadow sign
Photo by Su Haselton

 

 

 

Our latest refurbished sign – a beautiful painting by Lelia of a Little Owl.

 

 

 

 

 

(5.10.19)

 

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.

Countryside Ranger Chris
Photo by Su Haselton

Chris, one of the Council’s Parks and Countryside Rangers headed up the walk.

Jonathan and Mayor Gaynar Owen
Photo by Su Haselton

The Mayor Cllr Gaynar Owen  came to support the inaugural walk and joined Jonathan for the photo in our 5 Acre Meadow.

Town Crier
Photo by Su Haselton

The Town Crier helped the launch at the Station car park and came to see them off on the second leg of their walk.

Yellowhammer Information Board
Photo by Su Haselton

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.

Walkers listening to Jonathan
Photo by Su Haselton

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.

They’re Off!
Photo by Su Haselton

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.

Painted Lady
Photo by Su Haselton

This year there are lots of Painted Lady butterflies and our little buddleia is becoming a real visitor attraction.

Water Mint
Photo by Su Haselton

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

Teasel
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)

Scarlet Pimpernel
Photo by Su Haselton

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)

Knopper Gall
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.

(9.8.19)

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Dawn Chorus group in Willowbank Wood
Photo by Su Haselton

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.

 

 

 

 

Roe deer in Bluebell Wood in May
Photo by Su Haselton

Quietly one May morning on the bird feeding round a Roe deer clearly did not expect to see anybody in the woodland.

Looking for newts
Photo by Su Haselton

 

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.

 

Moth Trap shining out
Photo by Su Haselton

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.

 

 

 

Start of the meadow tour
Photo by Su Haselton

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.

 

 

 

Meadow wildflower walk
Photo by Su Haselton

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.

 

 

 

What a picnic!
Photo by Su Haselton

As usual the Teddy Bears and their pals turned up for a picnic

 

 

Anyone for tea?
Photo by Su Haselton

 

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?

 

Four-spotted Chaser
Photo by Su Haselton

This lovely Four-spotted Chaser was in the long meadow grass in Rough Hey on Saturday.

 

 

male and female Six-spot Burnet moths
Photo by Su Haselton

 

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.

 

 

 

Pisaura mirabilis
Photo by Su Haselton

 

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.

 

(8.7.19)

 

 

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

 

Bird Cherry blossom
Photo by Su Haselton

Crab Apple
Photo by Su Haselton

Cowslips
Photo by Su Haselton

Bluebells
Photo by Su Haselton

Path into Cabin Wood April sunshine
Photo by Su Haselton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

Pine Beauty
Photo by Su Haselton

 

 

Common Quaker
Photo by Su Haselton

 

Chocolate-tip
Photo by Su Haselton

but the real find was a very nice Chocolate-tip

(30.4.19)

 

 

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