Thursday 8 October 2020

Wildlife's challenge

 Work continues in Filter Bed Wood on the Sandbach Woodland and Wildlife Group's Sandbach Bridges Trail (East), which will complement the existing Sandbach Bridges Trails (North) and (South), the Brook Wood Trail, the Sandbach Environment Trail created by the Friends of A Rocha group and of course the very popular Wheelock Rail Trail managed by Cheshire East Council.

This image from near to Filter Bed Wood shows a magnificent Giant Horsetail that demonstrates how challenging the natural world finds it to live alongside us humans nowadays. The height of the plant can be judged by comparison with the (standard size) traffic cone that someone had abandoned deep in the woodland....

Giant Horsetail

Sunday 23 August 2020

Summer of lockdown

 As we all know, our local wildlife has flourished during lockdown this spring and summer. I have photographed some nice wild flowers along the nature trails in Brook Wood and Dingle Wood, including Moschatel. Sweet Violet is well established on the Rail Trail. Tawny Owls are often heard around the Park area and a young Great Spotted Woodpecker was there. A Kingfisher has been seen flying up the valley to the old mill pool above the weir on Mill Hill Lane. (Grey Wagtails nest there too, and at Brook Bridge). A fine colony of Butterbur grows by the river below the Wheelock football field. Little Owls may have nested not far from the Queens Drive estate. Not all of our wildlife has appeared naturally. Several spikes of Common Spotted Orchid flowered in the wildlife area of Sandbach Park; they had been planted there but are from local rescues and we wish them very well for the future - they look nicely settled. 

But elsewhere, I found an even stranger artificial delivery today when a shocked dog-walker outside my house pointed out two Elephant Hawk Moth caterpillars on the grass by the road! I attach a couple of pictures.The larger stretched to some four inches long (when it felt like it). I can only think they must have been dumped there by some equally shocked person who found them in their garden. I looked up their food plant on Google, and discovered to my delight that one plant which Elephant Hawk Moth caterpillars will consume is Himalayan Balsam! So they are now chomping away not far from here on one of Sandbach's most pervasive pests. That's the sort of biological control measure that I like! I hope you see one of the moths later.

Elephant Hawk Moth caterpillars:


Wednesday 18 March 2020

Winter and spring

Winter has come to an end in the Sandbach Wildlife Corridor and spring is "icumen" in, as the mediaeval song puts it. Now that we are all confined to barracks, we can at least hope to get out along the nature trails or at least enjoy the wildlife that comes to visit us. But it has been a sodden one until now, hasn't it? The only wildlife that has stayed pristine is that which has stayed above the wet ground, like this fungus on a mossy branch near Filter Bed Wood.
However, all sorts of things will be springing up soon. Walkers in Dingle Wood should watch out for the brilliant yellow Marsh Marigolds that will shortly produce their fine display. A dashing male Sparrowhawk was hunting near Brook Wood. But should care for our woods; last autumn I was inspecting an impressive colony of Giant Horsetail near Filter Bed Wood when I was  displeased to find one fine tall spike of it growing in a very artificial environment - out of a large traffic cone:
Nevertheless, the birds and the bees are moving, even if the human world has suddenly stopped. We saw a fine Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Nuthatch in Dingle Wood, and the local Buzzards are frequently over the valley. At the Sandbach Park Pond the resident Moorhens are rarely seen unless you pause and watch for them slinking through the waterside vegetation, but they will prepare to nest soon. And finally, here's one more  piece of evidence that spring has arrived!