Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Closer to home

Being grounded for a couple of weeks still presents opportunities. I used the time to judge the Mike Haywood Poetry Competition 2009. An interesting proposition since all the entrants had to live, work or study within a twenty mile radius of Rotherham. However, the geographical limitations did not compromise the imagination and skill of the entries and I was pleased to select some worthy winners and highly commend a couple more.

In an earlier blog I mentioned going for a walk and seeing a white satin moth - the whites of both the moth and pupae are easily spotted in the fields. Thanks to local moth recorder Peter Krischkiw for sending me a photo of one. It's amazing how many different moths he gets in his garden - hundreds. And maybe you have hundreds too. Why not make a simple moth trap and find out?

In the garden I've seen the green sheens of at least three new broods of great and blue tits emerge over the season, and also two broods of coal tits, a young nuthatch and a couple of young speckled robins.

In the shed a wood mouse is munching on the bird food before I put it in the bird feeders. It's nibbled through very substantial plastic tubs to steal!

Coal Tits by Mike Atkinson - see the link in the side bar to his wonderful site.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Is it a good idea

to post a poem I've written a very short time ago? I certainly wouldn't submit one to a magazine unless it had been hidden for a week or two and been through several redrafts.

However, here's a poem written in a few minutes last night after reading Coastcard's comment that she would like to hear more about Norfolk. A line added to it this morning when I woke to the call of it in my head. (I'll let you guess which one it was....) The clich├ęs are, of course, entirely intentional. And I expect I'll edit it when I start typing it below... Can't resist!

Norfolk Poppies

They seem to grow uninvited now,
bright distractions amongst our daily bread,
scarlet skirts fluttering, flouncing in the sun,
creating lawless charges through the fields
yet managing to damage scarcely anything at all.
Their fecklessness wipes a smile across a stuffy day,
and scatters taste across the table as, despite ourselves,
we take our hungry bites from poppy-seeded bread.

Image copied from www.freefoto.com

Saturday, 18 July 2009

An evening stroll

I enjoyed an evening stroll with Chorley NATS earlier this week along the River Yarrow (Eccleston - Croston). Sometimes we found ouselves wading waist high though grass, Indian balsam and nettles; other times we were just wading through cows. An enjoyanle walk in the company of people with a range of interests: butterflies & moths, flowers and birds.
It was lovely to hear several yellowhammers singing and whitethroat too. And a summer evening wouldn't be complete without house martin, swallows, swift and sand martins too sweeping over the pastures.

Amongst the vegetation green-veined white, meadow brown, comma and small tortoiseshell butterflies and an ermine moth. Also spotted were azure damselfly and banded demoiselle.

These photos from the walk were taken by Chris Rae. Click on them to enlarge.

Oh, and tawny owls have been heard very
close to, if not in, our garden several nights this week. Yeah!

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Tern Raft at Yarrow Valley Park

In between hospital visiting, I finally managed to see the terns at Yarrow Valley Park. The raft has a gravel base and chicken wire sides (to keep off gulls etc) and was placed there earlier this year.

This morning I was pleased to see two chicks, the youngest spending most of its time tucked under mum, while dad was busy flying the length of the lodge catching and bringing back small fish. At point a buzzard flew over and, to my horror, both mum and dad flew off to mob it, leaving the chicks alone with black-headed gulls and magpies around.... Anyway, mum came back and all was well. I have to say, that although you can see the chicks when they are standing, the moment they crouch they become invisible against the gravel.

I also saw a pair of grebes building another nest. The female seems to be incubating since she wasn't moving at all. The male, busy bringing all manner of nesting materials and placing them in front, behind and alongside the female, was having himself and all his offerings resolutely ignored . Oh dear... or perhaps another case of post coitum omne animal triste est?

The house martins, on the other hand, were anything but sad. A group of six flew in to have a drink and joyful fly around.

To learn more about the raft go to http://www.chorleynats.org.uk/ternraft.php
Photos of common tern and great crested grebe by Mike Atkinson http://mikeatkinson.net

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Orchids in the Dunes

Yesterday I joined Chorley NATS on a field trip lead by Peter Gateley to explore Ainsdale Dunes. We saw how sea couch-grass (which can withstand salt water) traps the sand to create small dunes so that the fresh water Marran grass can establish itself and create much higher dunes behind it. We also saw sea lyme-grass.

The range of habitats within the dunes is amazing ranging from sand to marsh. Plants included common spotted, pyramidal (left) and early marsh orchids and marsh helleborines (below).

In addition to the orchids, we saw grass of parnassus (left), sea and Portland spurges, common and sea centaury (rare), marsh cinqfoil (below) and many other fascinating plants.

I also got a taste for dewberries (similar to blackberries).

Photo of dunes copied from http://flickr.com/photos/66909027@N00/3626420633
All orchid photos are by Peter Burford and copied from www.communigate.co.uk/hants/snhs/php9RGmRT

Other flower photos from www.british-wild-flowers.co.uk
Photo of dewberries copied from Wikipedia.

from the field book

from the field book
An inspiring gift for anyone who enjoys watching nature.