Sunday, 25 May 2008

Unusuals

Unusual notes from the walk today included finding the uncommon weed Henbit again by the Town Pump like last year, and discovering Common Birdsfoot already in flower at Post No. 10. One surprise for me was when I was pointing out the ferns along the old retaining wall in Front Street. "This is Male Fern, and this one is Black Spleenwort (I count seven plants of that one, though there seemed to be more ealier in the year), and that one is - oh, no it's not. Hey, what's that doing here?" A further post on this discovery will appear shortly but a later trip back confirmed that the little fern in question is yet a new discovery for the trail, and is probably Soft Shield Fern. Oh, and Lady Fern was also growing nearby as well, along with Common Polypody. Clearly a fern hotspot (which is odd, as they prefer cool places . . . ) - George

Guided walk

A small but cheerful party defied the weather forecast (successfully) today for a walk around the Trail. Wind and cloud meant the focus (apart from a few singing chaffinch etc, and one flyby Great Spotted Woodpecker) was mostly on flowers. The group was on form, and did not miss the inconspicuous Common Vetch and the unusual white-flowered form of Herb Robert that grows around Brook Bridge. They eagerly enquired if the Watercress in the Park Pond was edible (only when small) and one of them remembered from childhood a man who dug up Pignut roots for sale. The invading Japanese Polygonum attracted their displeasure, and they discovered that they had been walking past Field Maple without knowing it. All good learning - George

Not plastic!

The herons on Dingle Lake, which can be seen from the Dingle, always attracted attention and more than once I have come across a mother pointing them out to her children. I have not had the heart to tell them that the one she was pointing at was plastic! The anglers put it there to frighten away the real ones. However, I was taken by surprise today when one I was looking at spread its wings and flew off! So look closely next time. There are real herons around! -George

Saturday, 24 May 2008

NEW CHECKLIST

A checklist of Plants found along the Sandbach Environment Trail has now been added to the Resources section of the website along with the other checklists already there.

Round about a dragonfly

By the lower Waitrose roundabout, Arclid Brook plunges under the road through a culvert below a sunny grass bank and railing. That railing is both one of the noisiest and best nature spots on the Trail! Leaning over it today, I was looking at a Green-veined White butterfly when I saw something much more unexpected. Two dragonflies - a green-bodied female Banded Demoiselle and (which I never saw last year) a stunning male, with his cobalt-blue body and (unlike the female) black-banded wings. They appear to fly awkwardly - I once momentarily mistook a male for a big blue butterfly. But they are wary! - George

Buzzards high

Soaring right over the Sandbach by-pass this afternoon, a quarter of a mile from the motorway junction, were no less than four buzzards together. A family party, or two pairs sorting their territories?

Unexpected!

What's that doing there? Walking onto Brook Bridge at the traffic lights, an odd sight was that of a fine cock Pheasant walking across the bridge road. Do Pheasants wait for little green men, we wonder?

Signs of summer!

Many flowers are out around the Trail at the moment. Flowers have their seasons; the Dandelions are over, this is the Buttercup and the Cow Parsley season (that big white feathery stuff). Also Comfrey and Red Campion are at their best at the moment. At the bottom of the Park look for pink Lady's Smock or Cuckoo Flower, the food plant of the Orange-Tip butterfly.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Late reports

Apologies for not reporting these earlier. The first Large Red Damselfly was at the Park Pond on 26th April, with a Chiffchaff and the Moorhens building a nest. Nearby, a Grey Squirrel was making loud cawing sounds in the big Lime tree. A Peacock butterfly was at the Dingle, while at Post No. 10 and near the Park estate entrance Common Storksbill was just coming into flower. Last year's Teasel heads were counted at Post No 10, to provide a comparison - there were 32. What else should we count? - George