Sunday, 31 August 2008

Forest, moor and lakes. (Updated 02/09/08)

The safari visited the wilds between Blackburn and Bolton on a warm muggy day this weekend. We had a traipse around one of the many reservoirs in the area before heading back to our temporary Base Camp for a superb full English breakfast...fried bread and all!

There wasn't much around. The forest was very quiet, the only birds calling were Robins, Wrens and a few Coal Tits. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard calling near the dam.

There almost no fungi to be found under the trees despite the recent warm wet weather, but the wild flowers did not disappoint. A reasonable selection were still flowering. A damp patch had Common Bistort and wild, rather than garden, Yellow Loosestrife while higher up the hill on drier ground was a large patch of Field Scabious.

I've no idea what species this little Weevil is but he looks quite cute.

The pink flower is the very invasive alien Himalayan Balsam. Beautiful but trifid like. It has colonised huge lengths of watersedge in this part of Lancashire to the detriment of the native flora. However the bees like it and smells good but they aren't good enough reasons to keep it. I doubt very much it could be eradicated now even if we wanted to.

A large pile of old quarry stones surrounded by a fair sized patch of Bracken suggested Adders. We had a poke about and turned some of the smaller stones but didn't find anything of note. From research later that evening it transpired that there are no Adders in that whole area. If anyone knows different please pass on the information. There must be one somewhere; there is a huge amount of potential habitat to search through.
Along the side of the paths the Bilberry bushes had been picked clean, the only berries remaining were either very new or just out of reach.

Bilberry is the food plant of the spring flying Green Hairstreak butterfly.

The warm day had butterflies flying. Speckled Woods, Large Whites and a Peacock were seen. The only dragonfly spotted was a Brown Hawker.

The black spots on this Sycamore leaf are Tar Spot Fungus. This species is very intolerant of polluted air and its presence shows that the air quality in this area is very good.

This bumble bee is the Tawny Backed Carder Bee on Rosebay Willowherb. Several years ago I was with a very well known botanist, a large, jolly fellow with a beard, who mis-identified Greater Willowherb as this plant...hmmm..elimentary my dear Watson!

Below is another alien plant, Turkey Oak, however recent studies of lake and peat sediments seem to show that this tree was native beween the last two Ice Ages, about 150,000 years ago and wasn't able to recolonise after the last Ice Age. It is easy to tell from the two native Oaks by its fully cut leaves and the acorns sit in hairy cups.

Sneezewort is one of those humourously named plants. I suppose it was once used to cure colds and sneezing. It looks superficially like the more common Yarrow but has fewer larger flowers.

The Rowan berries aren't a sign of a cold winter to come, but evidence that the weather was fine when the flowers were out in the spring and there were plenty of insects about to pollinate them.

These Mallard ducklings are very late but should survive the winter. There are plenty of people about with bags of bread for them.

And last... some think...the only Heron we saw all day.

And I never realised the Strawberry Duck pub is actually the Strawbury Duck! Would you credit it!!!!!

Where to next? A mid-week jaunt could well on the cards. And there is now the added pressure of getting certain 'target' species on camera...could be a new site or maybe return to a previous haunt.....not sure yet let's see what the weather is going to do.

In the meantime let us know what's in your 'outback.


babooshka said...

Have you had many butterflies this year.? We definitely haven't. No adders, but then again we don't have snakes anyway.

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Thanks Babs - butterflies do seem to be very thin on the ground this season. the safari has been trying to monitor two particular sites to help get them officially protected but the number of days suitable for counting has been very disappointing and when we have been able to survey the numbers counted nor range of species haven't been particularly good - Even the Buddlieas in Base camp garden have gone over without attracting many butterflies this summer - blame La Nina!!
Hopefully next summer will be better.