Friday, 16 September 2011

Autumn Glory


Great to discover a small clump of Devil’s Bit Scabious whilst out with the gorgeous and excitable Jake – (description c/o Manchester Dog’s Home).

150 years ago Devils Bit Scabious, Green Winged Orchids, Adders Tongue, Moschatel etc. were relatively common on the floodplains of the River Mersey around Chorlton and Disbury. However the river was canalised, gravel was extracted to allow for the construction of roads  and almost all of the resulting gravel pits were filled with household waste and rubble from the slum clearances. What areas of land that remained were used for treatment of Manchester’s sewage before the effluent was emptied into the River Mersey.

Although at the moment only a very small clump it’s reassuring to know how resilient nature can be.

Devil's Bit Scabious

Plenty of Michaelmas Daisies around. Although unlikely to be native to the area the number of bees and hoverflies swarming around the plants really does indicate their value as an early Autumn source of Pollen. 

Michaelmas Daisies

Another unknown Mushroom found recently at Marbury Country Park, Northwich. Possibly a type of Russula

Russula sp.

Faeries Bonnets also known as Trouping Crumble Cap growing on an old tree stump again at Marbury.

 Fairie's Bonnets

Extremely fresh and particular fine examples of Birch Polypore in the woodlands just off Marbury Lane. (a well known haunt of Lesser Spotted Woodpecker). Apparently the “skin” of the polypores has an anti-bacterial property that in an emergency can be used as a micropore type plaster

Birch Polypore

Orange Waxcaps in common with most brightly covered mushroom one to avoid eating.

Orange Waxcap



and from his original advert in February 2010:

“Hello, great to meet you!

My name's gorgeous and excitable Jake. I must admit that I am a very popular boy here and I am always smiling! I was brought to Manchester in mid November, so I am now getting very itchy paws for pastures new. With my beautifully soft and colourful coat, I am very fond of a good grooming and I'm a cheeky lad who loves nothing more than releasing my energy by chasing balls and digging for bones. Could you offer a lovable boy like me a warm bed and plenty of affection and cuddles. I love going for brisk walks over the fields too and am now looking for an active family to give me lots of love and kindness. You won't be disappointed if you come and visit me. I promise will be your best friend forever! Here's hoping!

Love & paws Jake x”

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Naked Flowering Crocus


Unusually this year Autumn seems to have arrived right on cue. Certainly no sign of an Indian summer.

Several groups of Autumn Crocus are now in flower along the Mersey Valley. The most reliable spot appears to be where Chorlton Brook joins the Mersey at Chorlton Ees. However there’s also plenty of them hidden away in Kenworthy Wood and further upstream in Didsbury. In the past I’ve also seen them next to the substation opposite Chorlton Water Park. Unfortunately most of the late summer/early autumn flowering plants tend to get mown out by the Env. Agency. 

Autumn CrocusAutumn Crocus

Good to find a fresh clump of Glistening Inkcaps tucked away in the woods

Glistening Inkcap

Also Sulphur Tuft growing at the base of a log seat next to the “wildlife pond” in Chorlton Water Park

Sulphur Tuft

With the nights now drawing in the local Foxes and Bats have been very noticeable over the past couple of weeks. Encouragingly the local Tawny Owls appear to have had a good breeding season with at least 4 of them around the valley. 

Friday, 9 September 2011

Fenn’s and Whixall Moss


A bit of a catch up from a few weeks ago, 19th August to be precise. With it being a reasonably warm but breezy summer’s day we headed off down the M56 and A49 to Shropshire. Ideally I was hoping we’d catch up with the local population of Adders. Apparently there’s so many of them on Fenn’s Moss it’s one of the few places you can reliably see them dancing in early Spring. On a warm summers day they’ll be everywhere, or so we thought.

When we arrived it soon became clear the site was buzzing, insects everywhere even a superb Hobby catching dragonflies in mid air but unfortunately no snakes. The closest we got was another Common Lizard.

Common Lizard

Plant-wise although surprisingly little out of the normal the moss looked magnificent with  Cross leaved Heath and Ling in full bloom.

Cross leaved Heath

Good to see plenty of  Bog Rosemary, one of the real mossland specialities. 

Bog Rosemary

On the way out we came across a yet to be identified mushroom. At the moment I haven’t got a clue what it is but hopefully the scaly surface will prove to be a distinctive feature. 


Seems incredible that it’s only 20 years since peat was being cut from Whixall Moss.