Before we start the main news I have managed to identify the small fish mentioned in the blog of 10th August as a Sand Smelt....on with the show....
The safari ventured up in to the wild headwaters of the river Wyre this weekend. There were some specific target species in mind. The path winds its way along the river bank through an interesting damp woodland, although there is a massive invasion of the pernicious Japanese Knotweed which shades out the native wild flowers. Keeping our eyes glued to the floor due to the rough nature of the path we saw a good number of deer slots (footprints) probably from Roe Deer, but although it was early evening and very quiet unfortunately we didn't see any of them.
This next tree is a Small Leaved Lime and the single straight trunk shows that it has not been coppiced.
The following picture shows a Hazel coppice. Hazel was very important. The thin branches grow quickly and are very springy. It was used for hedging stakes when hedges were laid to keep animals in the fields, it was woven in to hurdles, ie fencing panels, pegs for the washing line, tool handles, and fighting sticks such as those used by Little John, Robin Hood's right hand man.
Below is a Rowan, or somewhat incorrectly Mountain Ash. It has Ash like leaves but is not related, so Rowan is the better name for this tree. Amongst its most important properties is its ability to keep witches, ghosts and ghouls at bay. If you are troubled by any of those be sure to plant one in your garden. Not being a very large tree they are suited to urban situations. This one is a particularly large and venerable specimen as can be seen from the size of the two rotten stumps on either side. I would not like to guess how old this tree might be.
Finally we have an Alder, not to be confused with Elder from which Elderberry wine is made. Alder is the typical tree of Lancashire river valleys and wet areas, and supplied the clog soles for the millions of mill workers in the Victorian factories of industrial Lancashire. When freshly cut the wood turns a beautiful orange colour. Alder is one of the few deciduous trees which has cones but these aren't quite the same as the cones from a conifer tree.
The last tree picture is of a small species of fungus growing out of the moss which is gowing on a Sycamore. I am no expert on fungi nor mosses so can't tell you what they are. Over to you readers, can anyone out there help?
Sycamore has been maligned over the years by conservationists as not being a native species and having the tendancy to overrun native woodland. Its 'helicopter' seeds spread easily and germinate and grow quickly when light is available on the woodland floor, for example when large trees are cut or blown down. It also supports far fewer insect species than native trees such as Oak, Hawthorn, or Willow. However, a single tree can have a population of Greenfly numbering tens of thousands, an important food item for a large variety of predatory insects including Ladybirds. It does have one very impressive saving grace though, because it does not splinter it was traditionally used for loo seats!
At the end of our safari is this spectacular weir. Here we had brief views of two of Britain's most colourful birds, Kingfisher and Green Woodpecker. To the side of the dam is a Salmon ladder to allow the king of fish to pass upstream to the spawning 'redds', shallow gravel patches in the small mountainside tributaries. We watched from the bridge but did not see any Salmon jumping up the rapids or starting the long exhausting climb up the ladder.