Saturday, 31 May 2008
Friday, 30 May 2008
The small beech seedlings don't seem destined to get this far having been badly affected by frost, unlike the bracken which just sends out another shoot to replace the early casualties.
Thursday, 29 May 2008
After the rain a warm start provoked a competition to see which bird could sing loudest. The blackcap won this one with no trouble, making sure of success by getting in the tree nearest my hearing aid.
I'm still having difficulty uploading a good sound file of bird song into the blog. Google are happy with videos but there's no obvious advice for a simple sound file which should be easier as it is smaller.
The cuckoo is still working hard but the warblers are the stars of Blacka. No red grouse breed here although there are many on neighbouring and slightly higher moorland. And the wildness and increased tree cover attracts scores of singing warblers. But, oddly, S.S.S.I. designations claim its importance for upland breeding birds! Once again the local conservation lobby have got things wrong.
Wednesday, 28 May 2008
Tuesday, 27 May 2008
Monday, 26 May 2008
So to some holiday reading about national parks and wild land on Mark Fisher's excellent site.
Sunday, 25 May 2008
Before the expected Bank Holiday rain comes a post to celebrate the variety of natural surfaces created by those unsung size 10 heroes . Remember it's walking that creates good walkers' paths, not bikes, and it can take years. And the heavy machinery used by SWT on bridleways is more suitable for motorways. Sheep are not really good path makers having a different agenda and cattle can wreck a path as happened last year. Deer do their own thing entirely often creating new routes through awkward vegetation, and in doing so helping to open out ways into thick bracken.
Then the wonderfully soft carpet like effect created by years of dead bracken crumbling into a dust and then blended with rainwater into a thin crust
Sand of course results from the decay of stones and rocks by weathering as well as boot pressure......
There are lots of places where you can see an early stage in process......
Peat produces its own surface comparable to bracken...................
And good grass paths can develop when the tougher grasses gradually accustom themselves to foot traffic.......
Saturday, 24 May 2008
If one was only allowed to say one thing about SWT it would be this. That they are an organisation committed before everything else to expanding their business and protecting their jobs. I suppose it’s not unexpected after all. Most businesses are doing much the same thing, and even public sector institutions feel the need to put their own interests and survival pretty high up the priority list.
It’s just that with SWT they carry on this role both blatantly and with such a measure of incompetence on the ground that one shakes one’s head with disbelief. “Before everything else” is crucial. It’s certainly well before the duty to behave honestly and decently because there have been examples of deviousness that should shame an organisation receiving public funds and with charitable status.
Globe shaped and separate at first, the individual flowers open into clusters revealing pink stamens.
The contrast with rowan is part of the visual treat available to walkers on Blacka today.
The hawthorn below looked oddly red, perhaps one of those hybrid red ones, but no, from close up it's clear the colouring was actually caused by frost scorching the tender leaves.
Friday, 23 May 2008
I think parts of Blacka are as close as you can get to this inside Sheffield's city boundaries, perhaps any British city. But much depends on things over which we have no control. The wind is one of these. A gentle South East breeze such as we've had quite often this month is one of the better quarters, taking away the sound of morning trucks on the A625 heading for the motorway, loaded with some of the last remaining fabric of the Peak District. A warm South wind, welcome though it is, can bring up noise from the A621 climbing towards Owler Bar.
Currently my favourite peaceful spot is one of the most difficult areas to access overlooking the Lee Stream. It's best approached by following deer tracks through the trees, ducking and weaving amid low branches and taking care of moss covered boulders underfoot. The last week it's been easy to find dry dead bracken to sit on while scoring the birdsong out of ten for quality., tone etc, like one of those judging panels in TV programmes. But mainly you just listen and empty your mind.
Unfortunately there was a continuous drone of aircraft overhead but it did subside from time to time and we were not always free from distant road noise.
This marvellous time of year is too special to spend more than a minute or two in a car. Blacka is always interesting but it's at its best just now. So here's what you will be missing if you drive past to some Peak District car park along with thousands of others.
1 Rowan and Hawthorn are in flower setting off the fresh new greenery with a beautiful range of creams and whites.
2 The lush almost outrageous growth of Bilberry is stunningly covered with thousands of tiny red lantern-like flowers prettily complemented with Crowberry, also in flower. Nowhere in Derbyshire matches this display.
3 The informal walkers' paths are superb underfoot meandering through young trees and opening out new views constantly. Go slowly and stay quiet; a young deer may be browsing ahead. And no fears of SWT's cattle polluting the paths. They're not here yet, at least not by 8.30 this morning.
4 Listen to the gorgeous singing of the warblers turning each group of trees into a concert hall. Willow Warblers are deliciously sweet and Blackcaps are virtuosi of tone and improvisation. And this is a musical feast only available for a few short weeks.
5 Look for Britain's largest wild mammal the red deer, some of them in new velvet antlers. See the tracks they make in the dead last year's growth of bracken and occasionally their small black droppings giving away their presence.
6 Hear the cuckoo - singing and often to be seen. (Every morning this week.)
7 Save your money when fuel prices are rocketing. Blacka is accessible on foot and by bus. And save your personal energy by walking slowly - you see more that way.
8 Hares in the pasture, an area not so often visited. Also skylarks singing. And if you like young lambs..........
9 More flowers: bluebells still around and cotton grass adding its odd character to the mix of scenic effects.
10 Stonechats clicking at you like the sound of two pebbles when you approach
It could be that it makes it easier to see over the trees, but he's actually one half of a boxing match.
Bertie used to do this as a puppy when he believed there was tempting food on the kitchen table.
The other more interesting deer in the group this morning has a red mark on his right ear. At first we were thinking this could be some form of tag and that he could be an escapee from a park herd who's found his way to join the others. But I'm now wondering if it's an injury that hasn't properly healed.