Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Woodland Wonders and Wellbeing

This month, I'm teaching at Yarrow Valley Park, Chorley. The aim is to promote the importance of trees in the environment as well as developing social interaction and communication skills. This week the learners were challenged to create art from natural materials and leave them as gifts for other visitors. One learner made a window of twigs and used it to frame the beautiful shapes of baby oak leaves and the contrasting shape and colours of ivy.

Another learner created a sculpture which doubles up as a home for mini beasts.

Above is another design which we hope will attract centipedes and beetles etc.

Someone else was also intrigued with ivy growing on the trees and framed it. Do you love or loathe ivy? Yes, it is a parasitic and can damage trees. But when I note just how many birds depend on its berries to see them over the lean winter months when very little other food is available, I think it can't be all bad.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Sunshine on the Fells

What an ideal day for a walk - sunshine, breeze and a day off work. As with the route described below, I set off from White Coppice to Great Hill. Left is a photo taken en route. There were plenty larks, pipits and reed bunting around and the sunshine had also brought out little brown and orange butterflies (small heath, I think). From Great Hill you can see Jubilee Tower (aka Darwen Tower). I do go that way sometimes but not today. Below is a photo of it.

Today I crossed Spitlers Edge and and acres of waving cotton grass. If you're lucky you might see a red grouse. A fair distance to the east I could see where the peat had been on fire earlier in the week. The photo below shows Spitlers Edge and, in the distance, Winter Hill - my next stopping point.

All the human communication paraphernalia on Winter Hill is an eye sore I agree. But at least it's confined to one hilltop. The photo below shows Hordern Stoops and the steep scramble to the top. Scramble being the operative word. Not an ascent for a hot, still day but today's breeze made it pleasant. Incidentally the last time I climbed up here it was covered in snow....
Once on top of Winter Hill, I followed the ridge passing two cairns. From there the footpath disappears amidst the rough grassland. So with Riving Pike being easily visible and this being access land, I set off - and my left leg promptly disappeared to the knee into a mini peat bog! A bit disconcerting but, with my other leg on terra firma, I managed to haul myself out of the deep hole and walked the next mile with caution....

Rivington Pike is always popular with walkers and today was no exception. Above is a picture of the view from the top. The first reservoir is Yarrow and distant one is the end of Anglezarke - both of which I would be walking along later after making my way downhill through the terraced gardens and around Rivington Barn where lots of friendly bikers congregate. Notice how low the reservoirs are for this time of year.I deiced to take in Bullough on my return because I love strolling through its wood of ancient beech, oak and other native trees. The nuthatch love it too. The tree pictured above is a beech; on windy days it creaks alarmingly.

Sunday, 6 June 2010


On Thursday evening I was lent a moth trap and was looking forward to viewing a some of our garden's nocturnal visitors. After some help siting it for best results, all I had to do was go to bed and hope no-one would steal it overnight!

In the morning, Moth Man returned. There were over 70 moths in the trap and 30 species. By far the largest was a Poplar Hawk Moth. The most brightly coloured had to be the Green Silver-Lines and the bright Brimstones. The most intriguing were the White and the Buff Ermines which appeared to be dead; it's a trick to confuse predators - well they certainly fooled me! There was also a Bee Moth (and a bumble bee had also found its way into the trap) and the most numerous were the May Highflyer and Small Square Spot.

The records have gone to the area moth recorder and I'm looking forward to mothing again. Our garden is an ideal place for mothing because it is surrounded by a several species of trees and wild flowers. The best nights for mothing tend to be warm, still and overcast.

from the field book

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