Monday, 28 January 2008

Arclid Brook


Despite all the roaring traffic at the roundabout below Waitrose, I stood there watching a long-tailed tit cheekily hopping around just above where Arclid Brook flows under the road. I was watching to see if the bird was carrying feathers to a nest, but not just yet: everything has its season, as the Bible says. Click on the link above to see a photo (on the blog) of Arclid Brook here in winter - George

Goldfinches

Goldfinches were everywhere I looked in the park on Saturday morning. I think they must be one of the commonest birds around the Park at this time of year. They were certainly the noisiest when they all broke into song as a female sparrowhawk drifted over! - George

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Fern


At one point on the Trail (I won't say exactly where, you must look for yourself!) grows a very neat little Fern with the odd name of Black Spleenwort, an uncommon species in Cheshire. Click on the link above to see a picture of it (on the blog) taken on the Trail in January - George

Jackdaws

On the chimney pots of the town centre, large black birds were much in evidence. Jackdaws are often to be seen and often to be heard against the skyline. The Swan Hotel is one favourite, but most of the taller larger buildings have their resident “daws” - George

Saturday, 19 January 2008

St Mary's Wood

St Mary's Wood has a colony of Snowdrops growing attractively amonst Ivy on the woodland floor, that can be glimpsed from the Trail near the traffic lights in January and February. It's also worth looking for birds starting to look at the nextboxes which the "Friends" of the wood worked hard to make and put up! - George

Climbing birds

I have seen both treecreepers and nuthatches at St Mary's churchyard. Treecreepers normally climb up tree trunks - but one was climbing up the high moss-covered retaining wall of the churchyard at the top of Church Street, looking like a brown and white mouse! A nuthatch sings its "pebble-tapping" song sometimes in the churchyard near the Town Pump. Perhaps they are visitors from St Mary's Wood across the road. Did you know that nuthatches can climb up and down trunks but treecreepers can only climb up? - George

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Molehills

There were lots of molehills near Post No 10. Most were soil brown, but in one hollow they were almost pure sand. That's exactly the spot where the sand-loving flowers grow in summer - George

Morning

Small birds were everywhere at the bottom of the Park. A Coal Tit was in the treetops, a Nuthatch was calling loudly from the side of a Willow by Dingle Lake, and two Dunnocks were singing competitively to each other at the side of the track below the Park pond. So many people miss the birdsong because they turn out too late in the morning. The Bible says that God’s faithfulness is new every morning, too. Why do we so easily forget the best time of the day? - George

Grey Wagtail

I took a slight diversion from the Trail, to see whether global warming had already brought any of the Snowdrops below the front of St Mary’s Church into flower. Indeed it had – before Twelfth Night! But even more elegant, to my surprise, was something on the pavement below the blooms – a beautiful Grey Wagtail, its yellow rear underbelly positively glowing in the low sunlight. When a car pulled up by it, it flickered easily across the road and landed in the centre of the Old Hall Hotel car park, surely as elegant as any visitor that ever arrived there - George

Hazel

Near Post No. 11, amongst a bank of leafless shrubs, one still had leaves – but only at the tips of its slightly downy twigs. It was a Hazel, with just one or two of its big round, bright green leaves on each stem, as if it were holding so many flags out. I’ll know Hazels in winter from now on - George

Woodland in winter

Lots of areas are now getting sunshine that were shaded all summer. This is particularly obvious in and near St Mary’s Wood, where in spring there will be large colonies of Snowdrops and Lesser Celandines. They will benefit greatly even from the weak winter sunlight and exposure that allows warmth and nutrients to reach the floor of the wood - George

Siskins

Pausing near the bottom Sandbach Park gate, above some Blue and Long-tailed Tits in a bush I noticed two different birds in an Alder tree. I realised they were winter visiting Siskins feeding on the Alder seeds. Then I spotted another. Amazingly, as I ‘got my eye in’, more and more just appeared from the mass of Alder seeds, not new birds but ones that had been there all the time, camouflaged perfectly against the tree. Fourteen Siskins in one Alder – a much nicer sight for the season than a partridge in a pear tree! - George

Worms

I’ve never seen so many worm casts as were covering the grass in the Park yesterday. Even on the bowling greens! - George

Courting goldfinches

I was walking down the pavement at the rear of St Mary’s Church, below the wall, when I heard a strange, squeaky bird call. When I looked up, I was fascinated to realise that right above me was a beautiful cock Goldfinch in the middle of displaying amorously to his hen! Again and again, he fanned his tail feathers right out, then wagged his tail slowly from side to side. Well, perhaps it wouldn’t be every girl’s thing. And she did seem a somewhat flighty madam. But she didn’t fly away, at least!

Overheating!

On a house roof, one rather hoarse Crow was announcing its presence with a particularly chesty-sounding Caw-caw-caw-caw. Could it have perhaps caught a bug from the occupants of the house below? Probably their house is overheated just like the planet. If so, will the crow keep them awake? However, no infection would be caught by the plastic herons at Dingle Lake whose presence is supposed to deter the real herons from fishing in the same spot - George

Silver Birch

Near Post No. 11, a Silver Birch caught my eye. When I studied it, I saw how truly elegant a tree this is, with its white bark catching the sunlight and its partly pendulous tracery of purplish twigs quite stunning against the blue sky. Each twig ended in a tiny forked tip made up of two or three small catkins. Perfectly made - George

Bullfinch

Chaffinches have a piping note rather like that of a Bullfinch. I passed several piping chaffinches along the Trail today (Jan 5). Then near Post No. 8, something made me pause and look up. The sound was almost the same, but . . . a fine hen Bullfinch looked down at me disdainfully, then flew shyly away. Isn’t the Creator’s work wonderfully subtle? - George

Teasel heads

The Teasels at Post No 10 are long dead now. But they are still standing in January! I counted 36 of the brown, spiny seed heads. I wonder if there will be more next year? - George