Saturday, 30 March 2013

Spring Taster

In The Cold

All wildlife struggles to survive when seasons go awry. I've just sent Easter Greetings in the form of a new photograph of a robin not much different from the one sent at Christmas.
Those mammals that get underground may have some protection from wind and cold but still need nourishment. The deer herd, mainly hinds, have been out in some of the most persistently severe conditions and they were here this morning doing what they could, with the wind  on the other side of the slope but still able to feel the sun's warming. They eat what they can. Bramble is around and one or two greener shoots are just accessible.

Friday, 29 March 2013

On Good Friday

What thrives on Good Friday? Some things endure and some prosper.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Spring Flowers

Those of us waiting for the Spring flowers are learning to appreciate the less conventional beauties presently on offer.

Colour range is restricted but form is satisfying.

More Ground Views


Each day feels hard work. The duration and the timing are extreme. After heavy snow from Friday there have been constant bitter east winds. Several of the morning walks have been with snow falling. Relentless is not an expected description of our weather.

This feels like one imagines winter in remoter regions of northern Europe.  The impact on wildlife can only be guessed. And it’s March. On the first of March last year I photographed the first spring flowers at 1000 feet.

Footprints have been few, not helped by the early morning snow covering anything made in the night. Fox prints are seen when there is no overnight snow.

 No chance of seeing deer for many days - they will have been keeping to their more sheltered refuges. This morning though deer prints were to be seen in the woods.

A group of stags were running in the trees possibly disturbed by an early walker further down.
One was without antlers and it’s likely he’s the senior 

Briefly he was challenged by another still antlered but retaliated by getting up on his hind legs before they ran off along with several more.  

Wednesday, 27 March 2013



Site of Special Scientific Interest.

There have been recent indications this designation may soon change to


Site for Shameless Subsidy Trousering

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Large Scale Conservation - some 'Clear Thinking'?

A conference begins tomorrow on Large Scale Conservation run by Natural England and to which many people in the conservation industry have been invited.
The remit here is looking at large areas of the country's landscapes and planning to deliver greater 'benefits' than can be achieved in isolated smaller areas.

I remember that the consultation (yes that is a joke) on the Sheffield Moors Partners Master Plan claimed that it was to be model for the uplands across the country. And that we were also being told how important it was to work at a landscape scale rather than just a moderate sized site. The public were really very insignificant in this consultation as minds had been made up beforehand. The person in charge of putting something together that was actually no consultation at all but could be made to look like a consultation if you manipulated the presentation enough and prevented real discussion happening was a certain Pete Spriggs. He is not one of SMP's partners being himself the man behind a facilitation business called Clearer Thinking. My clear thought about this is that its role is often as a fixing outfit for organisations that want to get a public consultation that comes up with the results they want. Icarus is another of these. I remember when I let it be known I considered he was part of the in crowd of SMP he sort of bridled as if he felt it important to be seen to appear to be impartial and aloof in case anything contentious came up. As with the Icarus consultation on Blacka Moor the mind of the 'faciltator' had already been made up. He was one of them and his job was to get what they wanted. In general these people think that those who respond to consultations like this are woefully ignorant and not worth taking much time over. That is self fulfilling. The well-informed and perceptive will not bother attending if they are treated as stupid.

Confirmation of the role of Pete Spriggs is that he is one of those on the list of those invited to attend the conference on Large Scale Conservation. There are no others that I can see from Sheffield Moors Partnership nor from the other Peak District consultation on the High Peak. Yet Pete Spriggs, a facilitator, is attending. Does that mean he's there in a facilitating role - to get the others who attend to fall into line through sundry well-tried manipulations? Or is he there to learn just what he's got to put across in the expected range of coming consultations  - or even to show those from other parts of the country how the consultation for the SMP was fixed and pass on some valuable tips?

Saturday, 23 March 2013

No Forensics Here

What do we mean by forensics? This may not appear immediately relevant but I’m sure it is.  The Forensic Science Society has invited crime fiction writer, Linda La Plante to become a member because of the accuracy of her use of the subject when most of the use of forensic science in crime writing is very inaccurate. The item on the radio about this mentioned that the appearance of forensics in so many TV drama series has led to a huge number of applications by youngsters wanting to go into the profession. That has created a problem in that some of the courses set up are not up to the standards required and that there are many who’ve passed through such courses can’t find jobs.

Alongside the La Plante effect we must know there is also the Countryfile or Attenborough effect. Lots of people interested in wildlife and conservation as careers are looking for jobs and wanting to manage our countryside and the wildlife in it. There are more people than jobs and so there’s more call for lots of management from the job seekers themselves and those in universities who want to run courses for them. This is the sad context poor old Blacka finds itself in. We know it would be better left alone but all those people in the industry can’t allow that to happen. They will do anything, stoop to any kind of low machinations use any devious argument to prevent those on the outside seeing what’s going on.

Hence the bogus consultations from SWT and SMP. Those consultations have certainly not been forensic in its sense as the art or study of argumentation and formal debate. Last year's SMP consultation deliberately and manipulatively eschewed debate. For which responsibility  falls on all the partners but particularly Pete Spriggs of Clearer Thinking, the facilitator whose job was supposed to be to run the consultation. What else can you say about something that was fraudulent?

Friday, 22 March 2013

New Effects

The snow effect on trees, on ground and on walls has been different after each snowfall since January.

This time a lot of wind-blown powdery snow has covered surfaces in its own way.

 A veil has been draped across sections of the old wall.

Tops of trees are bare just tinged with spring red while underneath and deep inside the vertical surfaces light up what's usually all gloom.

Thursday, 21 March 2013


 A splendid specimen at its best.

To Be Positive

Good news - for those who don't like Spring. Not that there were many of those this morning. It's likely also to be good news for those needing an excuse to avoid going to work tomorrow: they may get a longer weekend. Some claim to have detected that the east-leaning birches have now been slightly corrected after weeks of winds from the North Sea.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Ground Art - Transformed

More terrestrial views, (see here)

In Reverse

Vernal Equinox, the first day of Spring.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Ground Art

Found Art should have, and may indeed already  have, a subdivision of objet trouvĂ© including only what's found on the ground.  In which case I'm sure much of the content would be manufactured artefacts such as litter or  lost items. So here's a preference expressed for that which has nothing linked to human influence. March is often a good time to look for these informal mostly irregular patterns, after a series of frosts have worked on the leaves and wind has dislodged the fragile twigs.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Playground Thinking

The irresponsible academic who got himself into the news last week must have been very pleased with the media coverage he received. Many more people now know his name and he will have earned the grateful thanks of the farmers who like to take a pot shot at anything that moves. A link to his university profile is here.
I was most impressed by the quote from him in the Daily Mail:
‘There have been no accidents yet but it’s only a matter of time. These are large animals with sharp antlers. If you had one cornered in a school playing field, it could be nasty.’ 
Can anyone take this man seriously? Frankly somebody writing or saying this kind of stuff needs to be taken aside by more experienced academics and told that silly scare comments like this do no service to genuine research and scholarship which is what I thought universities were supposed to be doing.

I've heard much more sensible comments made inside school playgrounds by those a lot younger than Dr Dolman. His comments should be put alongside his encouragement of landowners to shoot deer whenever they get the chance. He must realise how much damage can be done by those firing these powerful guns in the countryside not knowing who or what  is passing nearby. I would feel safer in a school playing field than out on a public footpath alongside land where the farmer is fond of using his gun on wildlife. One wonders if Dr. D. was funded by certain lobbyists for the land management and gun trading  interests.

I will repeat again: there are those around in various parts of the country some not far from here who will be encouraged to take guns out even onto public land by the coverage of Dr Dolman's reckless comments.


It has to be a burden, maintaining authority in the face of the arrogance of youth.  They are both part of the senior element among the local community but it's not hard to see who has the superior status, even when the others blow in your eyes.

Meanwhile those younger than either need to grow, so go looking for breakfast. Pretty thin pickings here.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Keeping Calm

Lying down and soaking up the morning sun is what the old hands know is the thing to do. Very welcome too after such a series of bitterly cold nights. An occasional break to stretch legs and see who's watching then back to the comfortable position.

A pity with all that heavy encumbrance that they can't place the whole head down. Though some relief will be felt in coming weeks as the drop season arrives.

Further off a group of younger more restless stags have not yet learned the art of relaxation. Keep calm .... etc.


Hanging on to the sides of dead trees is what certain fungi like to do.

The Birch Polypore is expert at this, the commonest seen in these woods and it's here serving up today's cold dessert.

Hoof Fungus also puts in several appearances having taken a particular fancy to this dead birch.

Jews Ear has moved in to this rowan as the bark stripped off.

But the most extravagantly decorative is found here. Worth a trip on its own.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013