Sunday, 27 September 2009

Magic Moors and Mushrooms

We set off towards misty Brinscall Moors and what a treat: the moors were once again bouncing with pipits and larks ascending everywhere (probably migratory). A dozen crows were in a playful mood tumbling and twisting in the air just like their cousins, the chough. The raptors were having a hard time though: a buzzard was being mobbed by crows as was a sparrow hawk, and the kestrel was being set upon by three brave pipits.

The moors were in that in between phase when the heather is fading, berries reddening, rushes turning orange and the leaves are mostly still on the trees. A time when almost anything can be seen, including two snipe which I don't often see there.

Then I set off along The Goit to explore the fungi. Fly agaric (above) was plentiful and all stages of growth. The Goit is a watercourse flanked by birch, oak and some alder.

I'm a complete beginner to identifying mushrooms but here goes... I think the one above is yellow-cracked bolete. (Click on each image to enlarge.)

The next one is a woolly milkcap or bearded milkcap.

The one above is a cep, I think.

A blushing bracket on a silver birch?

Common earthball.

Under and over view of a false death cap (Amanita citrina) in one of its phases.

I've got several more photos to share so come back later in the week to see them too.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

White Coppice > Great Hill > Brinscall Circular

Start at the cosy cricket pitch fielded by a row of white cottages. Cross the stone bridge and note the willow warblers' overs have retreated to warning hu-eets. Scan the bracken tops for stonechat and marauding brown hawkers.
As your calves work the climb and boots skidder on scree, enjoy the persistence of bright heather spikes poking through the deluge of weeks. And long for linnet, pipit or lark to lift the life of the sodden moor. Strip down to your T-shirt, absorb the breeze, feel its strength as you stride up the slope.
At the T-junction, take the track to the right and look for the kestrels that perch on headwinds approaching the knoll of Great Hill. Pause at the summit, stand and salute: to the east - Darwen Tower and to your back - Winter Hill. Observe how Lancashire smooths down her skirt to the west, right to its hen which is frilled by the sea.
Follow the flagstones and witness - here by the path - a pair of wings which are all that remain from a peregrine's kill. Watch skaters spread over dark, peaty pools and rub the last remnants (between finger and thumb) of soft, cotton grass as its pile recedes from the moor.
At the stile, choose the grassy path to the right, looping back to the well of Sam's Cup. Thrust your hands in the hollows of dry stone walls and touch the loneliness there - the emptiness now that the wheatears have flown. Then take the broad track that cuts Heapey Moor watching swallows that lack lustre now as they skim for flies and channel their strength to migratory flights. And search amongst them for this season's young with their non-streaming tails and wonder how many will grace here next year.
At the bend, take the hidden path to the left, cross the stream and keep to the old stone wall. Pass the overgrown quarry and climb the stile to the woods where wrens suddenly stutter as your boots approach their low, tangled world. Cast up to the coal tits flitting high in the pines. Be alert to roe deer sifting through shadows and tree creepers hugging oak trunks.
Emerge from the plantation to follow The Goit, being watchful for froglets before placing each step. Pass sheep shaking bracken and listen ahead for the crack of leather on wood and a rippling crowd whose thoughts peter out and wonder whether we'll hear the cuckoo next spring.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Smart Scarecrows

Our neighbouring village, Charnock Richard, held a scarecrow festival this weekend. There's nothing better than a bit of community spirit. Thanks to all involved.

Below are a few of the many that caught my eye.

Click on each image to enlarge

from the field book

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