Tuesday, 19 November 2013
Woke up to a light dusting of snow and bright sunshine with the rich colours of the larches and beeches contrasting beautifully against the clear blue skies. Every week there seems to more bad news about the spread of tree diseases like Phytophthora ramorum and it makes me wonder what the view will be like in a few years time. In the garden we have lots of Coal Tits coming to the feeders and we are a bit worried they have become welfare dependant. We have a Robin that roosts every night in the coal shed and last night we startled a Blue Tit that was roosting in one of the outbuildings. The Robin is really cool he has discovered that if he sings in the barn the acoustics make him sound much louder than he really is and it's very pleasant to listen to as you work.
Thursday, 10 October 2013
Its now dark at six o clock in the morning, flocks of thrushes are back feeding in the fields, the leaves are turnimg and I'm making Jam, so it must be Autumn. All the pumpkins are drying out in the conservatory, along with a wasps nest that has been in the woodshed all summer. I had to remove it with a bread-knife so its in cross-section. Some of the plums from the garden went into jam, the rest the wasps and pheasants have enjoyed. They also liked the pulp from the Rowan and Apple jellly I made- the lawn will probably sprout lots of Rowan seedlings in the spring. The woods and fields are full of fungi at the minute,I've taken some photos but not identified any , I feel a bit mean picking them for a spore print when they look so spectacular though the ones on the fallen trees behind the house are probably honey fungus. The oak trees are covered in acorns for the first time in a few years and the Jays are noisily flying around gathering them. The Sparrowhawk seems to be visiting most days, flying at and round the holly bush trying to flush out the Coal Tits that sit in there before flying to the birdtable.
Tuesday, 24 September 2013
Friends of Bowland held a meeting and moth night at our house on the autumn equinox. One of their members brought a fantastic chocolate and beetroot cake which we all devoured. I worried we wouldn't get many moths in the trap as by the time the meeting wound up there were only three moths and a phenomenal number of midges. However even though it was a drizzly night and a misty morning we did get a small but varied number of moths including the stunning Merveille du jour. We also got lots of Caddis flies, Ichneumons, Sexton beetles and Shield bugs. The Sexton beetles were incredibly smelly, rather like the smell of an annoyed ferret.
|Merveille du jour|
Friday, 30 August 2013
Slight drizzle but warm and still last night so put the moth trap we have borrowed out on the lawn under an enormous fishing umbrella. Got lots of moths,crane flies,caddis flies, burrowing beetles and midges. In the morning the trap was surrounded by pheasants so we quickly took it inside.
|Canary Shouldered Thorn|
|Centre Barred sallow|
|Dark Marbled Carpet?|
Thursday, 18 July 2013
Had a wonderful though very hot afternoon learning how to identify plants at Dalehead Chapel in the middle of
. The event was lead by Geoff Morries and John Hickling . Their infectious
enthusiasm and wealth of knowledge just made you want to know more. Gisburn
We were first introduced to some of the tricks of the trade used to identify grasses. A group of plants I think most of us find difficult to tell apart but a group of plants well worth getting to know because they play such an important role in the food chain.
After the grasses we moved on to rushes and sedges again plants often not given the attention they deserve. A major theme of the day was to look at how particular groups of plants form communities or associations in response to environmental factors such as ph, moisture levels and nutrient status.
The graveyard around the Chapel is particularly rich in micro habitats with very different associations very close together.
We finished by looking at the flowering plants of which there is great diversity of particular interest were the two parasitic plants Yellow rattle and Louse wort which can survive in this location due to the low nutrient status across much of the area. Other flowering plants we looked at included Knapweed, Birds foot trefoil and two species of buttercup, the meadow found on the nutrient poor areas and the creeping indicative of the nutrient richer areas.
The infectious enthusiasm of the two experts really made learning fun and I don’t think any of us will feel quite so daunted about having a go at identifying grasses and sedges ourselves.
Wednesday, 17 July 2013
We had been looking forward to a garden full of butterflies after finding some yellow eggs on the underside of the leaves of my Chinese mustard. They hatched out into caterpillars of the Large White, but we didn't mind as the Chinese Mustard had bolted and we have enjoyed watching them grow and shed their skins. Not many seemed to get eaten by birds who apparently find them bitter and they didn't seem affected by being out in scorching sunlight all day. Numbers dropped as individuals went off to pupate on the walls of the house and in the house! Several stayed motionless on the plant and then we saw one surrounded by little yellow cocoons and another with little green larvae coming out of its sides. There are now about a dozen parasitised in such a fashion. The caterpillars are not dead yet even after three or four days but are incapable of crawling away from the cocoons which they are on top of. If I touch one the front end rears up very suddenly, which would surprise any predator, so the parasites are benefiting from this and the caterpillars bitter taste. In the picture of the larvae hatching out there is a ruby coloured insect on the head of the caterpillar and I wondered if this was coming to lay its eggs in the larvae!
Saturday, 6 July 2013
Found a stunned young Siskin lying by the window panting heavily. Put it in one of the wire seed trays on the feeder then sat some distance away looking out for the Sparrowhawk and cat. Looked wobbly and kept shutting its eyes and attracted the attention of a Great Tit and another Siskin who kept hopping around peering at it. Took off after a few minutes. Went for a late afternoon walk on the tops above Slaidburn, watched Stone Chats, Whinchats, Meadow Pipits and Skylarks. We found two Dor Beetles climbing around in the grass, dark blue and iridescent especially below. Crawled clumsily over my hand and one had several mites on its underside (a common name is the Lousy Watchman). A pair of Dor Beetles find some dung and the female digs a hole under it with little chambers off. The male clears the excavated soil and brings in more dung to go in the chambers. The female lays a single egg in each chamber and once hatched the larvae feed on the dung before emerging in spring as beetles. Dor beetles and larvae have to eat their own weight in dung every day so they are really important natural recyclers. On the way back we found a large patch of round-leaved Sundews glistening in the sun. Went up to the cafe at Stocks Reservoir and had chips while watching the flocks of Curlews and Oystercatchers. A female Great spotted woodpecker brought two juveniles in to feed, they kept begging and would'nt feed themselves and she looked very exasperated. Redpolls and Long Tailed Tits also turned up.