Thursday, 23 March 2017

Early Start


The first flower to show here. Coltsfoot each year braves the unpredictable conditions of March leaving its leaves behind somewhat better protected. They later become some of the largest leaves of any wayside wild flower.

Elvish Cuisine

Not many edible fungi around in March. One that does appear around now is the Scarlet Elf Cap.

Recipes available online. Look out for it on dead wood.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017


Fastest off the mark in Birch buds are those on the scrub low down and thus more sheltered.

Doubtless Wood Sorrel is more advanced down near Shorts Lane. Up here the leaves are just showing alongside some purposeful grass blades.

At the Wall Caff we now are seeing a pair of Long-Tailed Tits joining the BlueTits, Coal Tits and Great Tits present throughout the winter. The newcomers are particularly fond of the nut feeder.

But their tails can cause a bit of a tangle when both are feeding.

Buzzing Away

If we ever wondered who is responsible for setting the rules allowing conservation organisations to be bribed to work against nature via farm subsidies....... Unnatural England looks pretty pleased with itself. Perhaps they are congratulating themselves on, for example, the number of native trees felled, the grants for more fences and walls, the failures to monitor compliance with environmental regulations on farms, etc.

Labels and Descriptions


Roe Deer are sometimes seen in these trees in the early hours and they were there this morning their presence given away by their white patches bobbing and dancing. Later on we find  footprints.

Small prints usually mean Roe rather than Red but you have to consider that there's not much difference between a full sized doe and a small hind. Catkins are nearby fallen to the ground as a seasonal reminder ....

.. and in the Alders alongside the stream.

The land in the top picture is all part of Blacka and called persistently by SWT its 'nature reserve'; a symptom of their nervousness is the regularity with which the word 'reserve' gets used in relation to Blacka. This is stretching the truth to the point that the Trades Description regulations might be invoked. The strip where the trees are and where the Roe Deer were seen is closest to being 'natural' and nature is even there under threat with trees gradually being felled to provide employment to SWT's chain saws. Obviously the treeless field at the top is rigidly under management control being kept simply as farmland where recreational activity and nature itself get precious little look-in. In the foreground leggy heather is protected from natural succession by managerial 'scrub bashing' laughably organised as a recreational leisure activity for a small posse of volunteers; and of course paths are trashed by cows outside the winter months. Nature Reserve? Current vogue phrases might be invoked, but no word or phrase these days is proof against redefinition.

Friday, 17 March 2017


This is a crumby photograph. But in a way it gives an impression of wildlife on Blacka that's fairly accurate. No sooner do you see some creatures than they are gone at great speed. This is true of birds and mammals. But mammals can be particularly elusive.

The white patch is a giveaway and sometimes that's all you see. Luckier pictures of roe deer are here and here.

Thursday, 16 March 2017


Those trees that develop multiple trunks can be some of the most interesting visually. While a single strong leader is everyone's idea of a typical tree form, in natural and unmanaged woods we're more likely to come across diverse and 'non-standard' forms. Some of us think this has more character and interest.

It's intriguing in each case to speculate how this 'natural coppicing' has occurred. It may be that the very young tree has been nibbled by some species of wildlife or even damaged in a fire. Clever detective work may reveal some clues.

This multiple trunking is particularly common in Rowan and far less so in Pine or Oak.