Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Project: Making a Home For Nature

Since the autumn I've been working on a personal project to improve the small garden space we have for wildlife. I've tried to plan out different habitat areas and ideas to improve diversity from the Wildlife Trust and RSPB material available. This has included a DIY Green Roof project which is proving interesting as green roofs have lots of potential for conservation. In so doing I've learnt through my own research about construction of roofs with the objective of maximising value for invertebrates, native wildflowers that are suitable for green roofs and the value of green roofs for slowing rain water run off, improving air quality through removing lead according to research and so on. 
First, here is the bat box I built out of recycled materials from the Bristol Wood Recycling project(www.bwrp.org.uk). Under the recommendation the opening has been made 2cm wide and I made sure I did not use treated wood. I like the pine bark front that only cost me a couple of quid. Bargain!
 
 


 
Under netting here are the wildflower seeds I planted in the autumn that seem to be growing well. They were from a pack of native wildflowers sold by the RSPB. I also acquired some free seeds from the Avon Wildlife Trust which was a mix more associated with old fashioned cornfield wildflowers.
 
 
I also planted some willow back in January into a fence structure. Willow is great because it grows so vigorously that to plant it is really simple. Even in the first year it has supported lots of caterpillars of a number of moth species. Willow is a valuable food plant for various invertebrates.   



A view from on top our flat roof over our postage stamp of a garden. Note I have created a pond area and planted it with some aquatic plants. Marsh Marigold, Water Mint and Lesser Spearwort. (www.puddleplants.co.uk/Lesser-spearwort). I've found this company good for native species that are often not available in garden centres. These pictures below show the green roof I have been building....


 
It may not seem like much but I have planted it with wildflower plugs of various species including wild marjoram, cowslip, wild basil, birds-foot trefoil, field scabious, common toadflax and oxeye daisy. The basis is crushed red brick mixed with a small amount of organic material. I have also added some locally sourced and produced biochar as an experiment because of its property's of holding water and water purification. On the subject the vast majority of charcoal for BBQs is sourced form eucalyptus plantations associated with rainforest deforestation. Buying British charcoal supports sustainable management of UK woodlands and the wildlife this management supports. Unfortunately because the market is so saturated with cheap coal among other things including cheaper labour costs abroad it has not been possible for British sustainably produced BBQ charcoal to be viable. On the face of it there is still a market for charcoal including the rise in people installing wood burners that the benefits to certain wildlife through continued traditional woodland management funded through marketing British locally produced charcoal would appear to be a good idea to benefit wildlife and create a significantly smaller carbon footprint. Interestingly species like hazel burn hotter and cleaner so British charcoal can even be seen as having better properties and being better in quality than the standard coal available. Whilst the case remains for the need to use cleaner energy sources, charcoal production remains in country's around the world in use for cooking.
The ethics of a green roof is to create it as sustainably as possible. I have sourced the wood from recycled sources and the material liner from off cuts.
 
Dusty Gedge and Nigel Dunnett are the best sources for their work on green roofs. Much of this in Sheffield. London has various large green roofs created in the last decade. Here is a useful book of theirs.

Buglife has produced a useful guide to producing green roofs for invertebrate diversity. It details various species of bees, moths, spiders and so on which shows how valuable green roofs can be.

https://www.buglife.org.uk/sites/default/files/Creating%20Green%20Roofs%20for%20Invertebrates_Best%20practice%20guidance.pdf

So I cant wait to see what the garden will look like this year. I have planted lots of plug plants as well in various areas. I have researched many wildflowers so there are lots of different species from fox gloves, red campion, honeysuckle, sneezewort, bladder campion, comfrey and many others within the small space available.

On a similar note the WWT has a project creating SUDs, which are similar in principle to green roofs, as a requirement of new developments. Here is the article link...

http://www.wwt.org.uk/news/news/2014/12/wwt-news/communities-left-with-flood-risk-after-nine-out-of-10-developments-exempted-from-suds/

I really like these new initiatives where conservation can work to connect people with nature and improve peoples health and environment whilst providing a functioning benefit to the places we live. I like the ideas of Biophillic city's too and I would encourage you to look up the basis of the idea if you have not heard about it. In essence what if we change what we expect a city to look like so that it becomes a functioning green oasis rather than uncompromising concrete. Nature becomes an integrated part of city living and citizens live happier and healthier lives. In city's we can forget the beauty of the world beyond our walls. We can become absent from the natural world. This comes at the cost of our own knowledge of nature, conservation issues and our own wellbeing as a species. The really positive thing is that we can bring nature to the people and in a way that has measured environmental benefits. There is a need to reaffirm connections with the world around us and our senses certainly. With around 80% of the population living in city's its a massive benefit. Cumulatively if we as a society were happier emotionally, rather than oppressed by modern life, what could we achieve? Maybe we need the opportunity to breathe. If we were emotionally healthy individuals could we then be in a better position to heal our world given there is no longer a need for such self preservation? I wonder sometimes if nature can offer us the strength and resilience we need to overcome adversity through making us more thoughtful, rounded, emotionally stronger human beings. Often the cost of our separation from the natural world has cost us more than we may ever understand. 100%, its easy to see green city's as a positive vision for our future.

So greener city's can cool the heat island effect, mitigate against flooding, clean our air and be better from an economic point of view too, providing long term benefits. The idea of WWT's use of SUDs which can be created as effective naturalised city wetland habitats for managed flood relief seems to tick all the boxes. Its a shame that the WWT news article shows how politically there is very little tolerance or understanding to environmental legislation that is perceived as little more than red tape so it appears. Economically the choice not to install SUDs doesn't add up given that using natural services is more effective and cheaper in the long run as mentioned in the article. Its a wasted opportunity for people too given that we all need healthy places to live work and play. We should throw away the book on new build developments that are lifeless soulless places in favour of a better alternative. Its a new perception that sees things differently. It requires that we see differently to no longer build infrastructure that compounds existing problems like flooding. It should also be recognised that we are not machines, we are human beings, and modern city's should not be indifferent to this. In this sense we need places to live, not simply shells to live in.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Letting Vent

If there was one thing we could do without and change tomorrow if we wanted to in order to benefit conservation it would be the use of carrier bags. We could so easily do without them in reality yet the subject seems to touch a nerve with thousands of people. Every year incidentally sea birds die from ingesting plastic such as starving to death as a consequence of being then unable to feed. I have heard of vast areas of plastic reported gathering and swirling around at pinch points in the ocean out at sea. If we were to take a moment to think about how a carrier bag is produced its raw materials must first be sourced, that's oil. This takes energy and all the associated water consumption, waste emissions and so on. The raw product is refined using more energy. Eventually at some stage the bags are produced, printed and packaged (more energy consumption and associated emissions) before being transported (you guessed it, fuel consumption and gas emissions) before eventually reaching their final destination. At which point they are packed, taken home and in most instances thrown away, although we are much better at recycling now than we used to be. The problem is still massive given the millions of bags consumed annually in Britain without even thinking about American consumption. That is not the end of the story of course. As plastic doesn't break down naturally it can sit around for years after. Alternatively light degrades them and they break down into smaller and smaller pieces that again make their way into the food chain of the ocean. Fish can be found with microscopic partials of plastic inside them.

We are not dependent on carrier bags in any way shape or form other than habit, convenience and for the shops that supply them to splash their name around as a form of advertisement. In the 21st century the pressures on the natural world remain heavy and sustained. Many conservationists even hold the growing consensus that it is no longer a case of conservation but restoration. After all, we have reached the stage where things are so dire there is nothing much left (in a healthy state) to conserve anymore. Large scale re-wilding projects among other larger ideas are needed to restore nature. Given all this, as a small change we could do without tomorrow if we wanted with no real effect to peoples daily lives it would be to end our use of carrier bags, the closer to zero the better. This being very much a positive step that is more than possible.

Thanks for reading this far if you've got to this point. I'd like to now look deeper at this topic of carrier bags that divides us. At its heart I find it very telling of the ideas we hold and ultimately its about the way we think about the world/nature. For conservation this is significant because if we tap into the reasons why people consume with little or no concern we may just be able to understand the wider context of why, if nature is vital to our well-being and the health of humanity, do we continue to destroy, degrade and turn our back on what sustains us. This is what I am interested in. That golden question. That deep question. Lets face it, there are millions of people in this country that have no interest in conservation/nature as its of no interest to their daily lives (millions however do, even at a basic level so if your one thank you). Some openly admit they don't give a shit. I am convinced that millions more simply don't think about it or know much about the state of nature and the extent to which the countryside has become impoverished. To me nature with all its wildness is so important yet millions of people live out their lives distanced or separated from it completely. I find it a scary prospect that millions of people have lost connection with a natural balance. City's distance us, their walls contain us and all the same millions live quite happily in them. Does this however go some way to answering why species are declining and habitats disappearing? Quite possibly. Are we distracted? Are we lost? This is deep stuff, really deep but for me stating declines are due to human 'progress' and our own negligence alone falls some way short of an answer. It falls short of answering the why. Why is this happening/has this happened? What are we searching for? Why are we never happy with what we've got? What if we consume to fill a void of some unknown thing, a soul deep thing, that we have lost but can not find? Are we living or just existing? Is that soul deep thing nature? That deep connection. That sense of knowing. Of being one with the world. Of finding purpose. Vivid and real. Is that what we want? Reasons for species decline are varied and complicated of course. Yet imagine if millions of people were to shift their heart and soul in a direction towards nature that may be our true calling. Maybe in doing so we can find a better world.

Some say what we are doing is inevitable like a snow ball gathering in size and speed down a hill under its own momentum, just basic population dynamics and too big to stop now. It's a global issue. But I don't want to believe them. Even with idiots to this day intent on plundering the world, exploiting natural resources, development and whatever else we choose to do because we feel like it, I don't want to believe them. We have a choice. By restoring the natural world we can restore ourselves because we are the same thing. We have a choice.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Happy New Year!

This year is shaping up to look very good. The soggy state of the country aside, keeping most of us indoors, I'm looking forward to this spring and summer with the idea of traveling more widely. In the time since my last post I've become involved with The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) and this has developed into volunteering regularly for the majority of last summer two days a week and continuing to date. I also spent an amazing two weeks during July 2013 volunteering with the RSPB at their South Stack reserve on Anglesey, Wales. The volunteer accommodation was a two minute walk from the cliffs and wildlife highlights included seeing and hearing Chough every day, Peregrines, a few thousand of sea birds and a good list of butterfly species like Silver-studded Blue, Greyling and Dark Green Fritillary. During November I spent another two week placement at RSPB's Blacktoft Sands reserve on the Humber Estuary near Goole, North East Yorkshire. The reserve is an intertidal reed bed, with the main highlight in winter being the raptor roost of Hen and Marsh Harrier every night. Starlings did not roost in the reserve reed bed, with roost sites in the area being unpredictable according to the reserve warden. I hope to see a murmuration this winter. I had an enjoyable two weeks among the reeds carrying out habitat management.
I ask myself where last year went, yet looking back my involvement in conservation work party's feature heavily. I have involved myself with the Avon Wildlife Trust and the Bristol Natural History Consortium during their Bioblitz last summer. I find myself compelled to make a difference on the ground as well as continuing wildlife photography as a medium of communication about the natural world. Education forms part of the answer but without those acting to preserve wildlife through habitat restoration species will continue to decline. If we are to reverse current steady declines in overall biodiversity resulting from pressures like habitat loss it will be the sharp end of conservation, conservationists on the ground, that make a strong force for change, among other things such as changing attitudes in society. Thinking behind the value of current habitat management ideas are under question and changing in favor of re-wilding and larger scale approaches to the way we see conservation in light of the overwhelming need to find solutions to reverse declines in wildlife.
I appreciate for a photographic blog there is a distinct lack of images in recent posts. I will endeavor, all being well, to post more frequently this year! Some of my images can be found by following TCV Bristol on Twitter where I have started using my photography to hopefully recruit new volunteers and promote the charity's work.
This year should be excellent with possible trips to Ireland, Scotland and Dartmoor on the cards as well as South Stack in the hope of seeing adders! I can't wait!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Pied Wagtails...The Invisible Roost

Recently I found myself reacquainted, by fortune alone, with a more subtle but equally engaging annual wildlife spectacle. It had been raining for the past three and a half hours, the wind lashed and swirled its decent, robbing of warmth and chilling like ice under the cover of this cold December night. I had just been to a Bristol Natural History Society talk with guest speaker Oliver Smart, a wildlife photographer, where he talked about his visits to Alaska, Shetland and Finland illustrated with excellent images and interesting insights. Stepping off the bus and began walking through central Bristol. I passed shoppers pressed by the rain to quicken their pace, head down, busy with their own purpose of pursuit. And as I closed in toward the handful of London plane trees on the centre which are passed daily by 100's of feet I became acutely aware of two trees, I stopped on the spot and stared amazed into the branches and the deep impenetrable black of night that lay beyond.

Pied wagtails hung as if in suspended animation, the two trees sharing an estimated number of 130, if not more, individuals. I tried counting them in clusters of 10's but the density like a shoal of fish, made accurate counting difficult. The street light above the tree where the majority were illuminated with gave a softness to the white of their feathers with row upon row of long white under tail feathers extending below them. As I watched one or two would switch elegance and join the smaller group in the a joining tree in little bounding flights over the short gap, and the heads of passers by, that bridged the two trees. I felt the rain against my face still gazing up whilst around me I could have been one of the few smiling in the rain. People passed by me and benith the tree, unaware, unconcerned. Street lights and the traffic caught the rain in the beams of light and the wind still made its presence felt, although a little more sheltered than whilst I was waiting for the bus. It struck me how vulnerable they appeared. Usually the purpose of these roosts among other things is to provide shelter and warmth but this tree was not obviously so. Its branches resembled nothing more than sparse sticks offering little protection to escape the weather. Notably I have also read how roosts take advantage of the warmth produced by fairy lights each night. A number of trees near the centre have Christmas lights yet these pied wagtails paid them no attention and seemed in no rush to leave their chosen roost. It was dark by 4:30 that evening and it was now 10:30 so they appeared perfectly settled. During my time in Cumbria I discovered a regular roost near Penrith town centre last winter. I visited it again a couple of weeks ago and believe it may have moved however small groups were still observed moving through within the vicinity. I mention this as during last winter the tree they were using was lit with lights and sheltered on all sides by buildings. Among the humdrum of people and traffic, the lights, the general commotion, I left them and continued home.

My second visit came two days later. This time I hoped to watch their nightly ritual from dusk as they gather and roost as well as take some photographs. I arrived fairly early. A chill was setting in as the area became increasingly thrown into shadow by tall buildings that blocked the suns red bathe of light. The shadows creped along, scaling the buildings upward inch by inch, minute by minute, as if gradually submerging the area under a rising tide, the waves of shadows lapping at light. I watched the gulls circling and diving in between the two layers, rising and falling, their white feathers soaring into the fiery warmth of the last of the suns red rays, plummeting back to a land locked earth of shadow before reclaiming the sun once more. I was hoping for a raptor, the pigeons were flocking with their usual nightly acrobatics, no such luck however.
It started off with one. A classic little dot of a wagtail crossed the blue high above, punctuated occasionally by the chink of a flight call audible above the traffic. As I waited every now and then another would cross the heavens from the buildings to my right, over the pedestrian area, and disappear over the buildings to my left. It grew to a handful every so often with groups now appearing. And the more that disappeared away over the buildings the more I doubted that they may have moved. The surrounding light had now ebbed away. The vibrancy remained, washing the sky in an intensely soft peach watercolour. And as each bird came and went like the one before it my mind eventually got the better of me and I decided I would check the nearest location in the direction they were travelling  I did a loop of the second area with not so much as a chirp, it didn't feel right so I went back to the original plan.
Back where I'd first found them and eventually after another 10 minutes or so I re-found them. They gathered on the rooftops and assembled, still distant, as large clusters. Large groups took to the air in fluttering flight and, for what are small birds, took up a surprising proportion of the sky. They never bunched close as starlings would instead preferring more space, my observations would suggest. The whole thing is rather quiet and unobtrusive to witness. The groups flew around a little over the roost site and the Christmas shoppers, flying in a sweeping curve. Half a dozen or so birds committed themselves and flew in at first. The roost gradually gathered strength with a steady pour of birds quite literally bouncing in one after the other. It was not so much like someone pulling a giant plug as with starlings but a steady broken drip. I must admit by this point my concentration on unfolding events had been distracted setting up my camera as with a faint dusk trickling into darkness I felt I should try to capture something while I still can.


Its funny how people don't necessarily tend to notice things unless it flies in their face or bites them on the arse. Little things like a jay flying overhead, easy to miss I suppose, or say...well over 100 birds sitting in a tree. For the most part they are ignored or go unnoticed however, people are interested. When a tall guy turns up with tripod and camera to photograph a tree in the middle of Bristol people are inquisitive. (Incidently, I must mention that the tall guy did look rather conspicuous with a wacking great white lens.) People first ask what are they? The second question is pretty much always, what are they doing here? I was also asked once if there was anything people could do to help them? I caught mumbles on the periphery of my hearing of some questioning why anyone should want to photograph some birds in a tree, I find it ironic as to who is more mistaken. In truth all the questions are valid, the birds are taken out of context when viewed in an urban environment and most people I've talked to say the same. It's not the 'expected' place assumed by the vast majority.


I've recently been reading Mark Cocker's book Crow Country where he explores the magic behind the life of rooks and roosting as a particular fascination. Its made me think more about the act of roosting in all species and the mechanisms which they operate. Theories of warmth and predation protection all have a place but there is a series of deeper layers that constitute a complex web of interactions that govern roosting he suggests. The first time I saw the wagtail roost in town I noticed each bird was spaced out and visually look at intervals, they looked like the illustrations of atoms in the school science books. Why for instance would they not choose to roost closer together? Along with other ideas its fascinating that behind the simplicity greater things are at work.

The third visit to the roost recently as a result of me being late at the gates to photograph waxwings, finding the flock had stripped the last of the trees and moved on, had me waiting for a bus and not far from the centre so I went to observe them again rather than photograph. This time I noticed certain birds moving away from the obvious roost. After investigating the vicinity once the birds became settled I confirmed my hunch after finding another roost among an ivy clad tree. With no street light directly illuminating them and nestled among the ivy they kept a very low profile. I ask myself if most don't notice the obvious ones then how many have unlocked the secret roost? I rather like the secret roost.

So, I guess I'll leave you to find a pied wagtail roost. Winter is a great time for many roosts.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Armathwaite and the river Eden- a little nostalgia

You know, they say there is something primeval about staring into the very heart of a fires flames. That something deep within the recesses of our mind stirs, just slightly. The smoke, the heat, the smell of burning wood. The hypnotic quality of its dancing flames. Fire, I find, can be more than just fire...

There are things in life that shape us. They are more than they initially appear. Of all the memories I have from the three years of my course a group trip to Edenbrows remains as vivid as if it were yesterday. In fact it has been over two years since that night in the first year of university when our group spent an evening by the camp fire. I decided that before my time in Cumbria comes to a close I would walk in my own footsteps one last time and re-live the time we spent as a group. It felt a fitting end to the three years.

The river Eden itself is one of the cleanest and healthiest rivers in Cumbria. Its path has gorged itself out of the soft sandstone to form the high sandstone cliffs and sandy shores it currently has today. The remains of semi-ancient woodland aside its banks make the river a good spot to look for spotted flycatcher. High Stand and Coombs Wood are also worth noting as other woods in the Armathwaite area.

So to begin. The trip was organised by our lecturer. The plan was to navigate the footpath that followed the river and eventually rendezvous with him at Edenbrows. "Feel what its like to carry the weight of a rucksack on your back." as I seem to remember him saying. We were dropped off by minibus beside a track, everyone tumbled out, slung on their rucksacks and he drove off.
Back on that same track myself two years on and everything was flooding back. As soon as I recognised where I was to the memories fell into place. "Oh yeah, this is where we started.". Even now, strangely, I could see the minibus parked there as if it actually was. Even though the track was empty the memory was powerful. I felt our group with me once more, equally vivid, and in that moment I walked with them and they beside me as I set off in these footsteps.
A little further down the track and I came across a large group of greylag geese 30+ strong. Experience has taught me scanning flocks is a good practice to adopt and at the very least doesn't hurt (unless its widgeon, but I guess thats another story). A Pink footed goose? In June?? Really??? I must have checked 15 if I didn't check 20 times. Well, that's crazy but true.
On I went and eventually I was following the river. In places the paths had eroded to a single file track, the ground as warm in colour as the sandstone itself. The rivers banks were lush and the rocks worn smooth. All the while I seemed to remember every path in surprising detail. I came across a wooden boat still chained to the bank as it was all that time ago. There was a certain picturesque quality to a little boat, the sandy bank and the cool water that I remember appealed even back then leading to a quick stop amongst some of the group for a few photos.
For a short walk it didn't half turn up its own fare share of moments. I remember how we took a slight detour at one point down the wrong way only to find a dead end. It was a little like watching a group of confused sheep as it was only a narrow single file track and one person simply followed the next. There was then the usual moments pause as the confusion spread as to "why exactly the line has come to an abrupt halt and doesn't seem to actually be getting anywhere?". The person at the front then had to signal to the one at the back and the message went down the line one by one. "Oi! Dead end! Turn around!".
On finding more boats a second time I remember us joking to ourselves amongst the group that we were tired of walking, no one would mind if we borrowed a boat for a little while and rowed to camp. Even just to see the look on our lectures face as we casually rowed past him exchanging pleasantries at leisure would have been classic we thought.
I also remember that one incline that, after a rather gentle ramble, soon put all our leg muscles to the test due to the gradient when the group had to transverse it to the top with our backpacks. Feel the burn as they say. It was slightly comical at the time to see us tackle the task at hand. At the top some of us got a fleeting glance of a roe deer disappearing down the slopes of the woodland to the river now bellow us. Another highlight for me.
Passing what people had dumped beside the river, and making good progress as we were nearly near camp, we came across a entire door so I seem to remember. As adventurous students we decided, as you do, that it would be absolutely brilliant to burn on the campfire if only we could get it to camp. There was visions of six of us all hauling this entire door into camp as if to say "Look at that for team work!...Right, lets burn it!!"

For me on my own walk I had by now begun to reach the same destination as was camp for us that day. Edenbrows came into sight and the track into the wood led me from the river to the heart of camp. From the farmland over the railway tracks the distinctive song of yellow hammers could be heard. By now it was late afternoon and standing by the fire pit of camp I simply sat and soaked up the atmosphere of the place. The green yert had gone. There was a serenity I can not describe to the river and to this place. I felt the warmth from my heart radiate. Here's to good company and a beautiful world.
I still had one last stop to make before I put a line under my time here.I refound the camp I once came to with Rob, Alex and Rachel. I must agree it is a much nicer spot. The heart of Edenbrows is a coniferous plantation making it dark, bare and rather void of life but here the canopy is light and airy. Beneath a large beech tree I lit a small fire and listened to the river in the cool of evening. The river itself was no more than a stones throw from camp.
And in the spirit of the occasion I had brought along marsh mallows for toasting as we had done as a group. In fact our lecturer had led us along so many times with visions of cold beers, a roaring fire and toasting marsh mallows we had all got caught up in the idea. That night when it came to sitting around the camp fire we soon realised we might be in danger of marsh mallow overload as everyone had brought a packet. Cain had even brought an entire tin. We all smiled at how funny the situation was. And now enjoying marsh mallows again myself and watching the flames I feel time slip. Its a fascinating experience to reflect upon how I have grown and been shaped by my time in Cumbria.  This journey for me was very much a spiritual one. I am surprised by how much I can remember. Deep within us all there is something more, I'm sure of it. But its up to us to find it.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Secrets and Treasures- Part 2

video
So to pick up where I left off, here we are in Silverdale for a few days where we hoped to uncover and explore the beauty of this place and it's rich wildlife.
Not more than fifteen minutes from getting off the train on our way to Eaves Wood and we were stopped in our tracks at the amazing sound emanating from the branches of this holly tree. The drone of hundreds of wings that came from within the tree sounded like an entire wasp nest or bee hive. The volume of sound was the thing that struck us. The trees pollen rich blooms were obviously extremely productive. On this warm day the insect were out in force. Truly an unexpected surprise to hear and enjoy. (P.s, Apologies for the recording being slightly quiet.)

The disused quarry above Eaves Wood offered another experience. This time like a small slice of dry american wilderness in scale and dusty atmosphere. Nesting raven and jackdaws could be heard. The call of a Peregrine alerted us to its presence but we failed to locate it.


Soft evening light falls on the coast looking towards Arnside on the second evening of our travels. I'm pleased with this image. Its a great coastline to explore. Turnstone, Curlew, Shell duck and numerous oystercatchers were noted.

A couple more from the garlic wood. It's quite hard to capture the scale and direct the eye to parts of the image without appearing too cluttered.


The main objective was to explore and so images of everywhere we went were not all photographed. Highlights of the trip included: Marsh Harrier, Willow Tit, Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Black cap, Avocet + chicks, Little egret, four Otters, Little grebe, Great crested grebe, Bullfinch, Nuthatch, Tree creeper, Raven, Peregrine, Skylark, Pochard, Pure white Greylag, Pink-footed Goose (presumed injured, Leighton Moss), Red Deer, Roe Deer, Lapwing, Wheatear 

Friday, 25 May 2012

Silverdale, Lancashire- Secrets and Treasures

  Although like much of Britain it has its own fair share of agriculture Silverdale and Arnside sure do live up to their designation as an area of outstanding natural beauty. I've always found myself bypassing the Lake District and heading here. It's a gold mine of little woods, mostly National Trust owned, and other varied and wildlife rich habitats. For me this place really is something special.
Usually I've found myself gravitating to Leighton Moss predominantly every time I visit, its hard not to, but recently I took a trip with my sister to investigate the area inside out as best we could in three days. We knew there were secrets to unlock and treasures to find. Here are a few..I will post fully part 2 shortly when I am able....

I have never before seen a wood so extensively carpeted with wild garlic. It is fair to say that you have to have wandered through an area of wild garlic to truly appreciate the pungent aroma that filled the air around us. Fogarth wood is private access but can be viewed from the public footpath running along one side.

A taster of other places...

Looking towards Arnside

 Limestone Pavement (c)Helen Williams

 Yet to be identified: Damselfly

Warton Crag: Orchids...

I have also never seen orchids flourish in such numbers. Spring in Britains woodlands is really something special.

Part 2, coming soon...