Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Butterflies and Dragonflies

The walk at the weekend found lots of Gatekeeper butterflies along the Trail, along with some Speckled Woods and a Comma amongst others. Two Holly Blues were also seen over the weekend, suggesting a better year for this species. However, there continues to be a severe lack of the well-known coloured butterflies, probably due to our unstable summer weather nowadays. The walkers were treated to great views of a Southern Hawker dragonfly at Brook Bridge, while a Brown Hawker was over the Park Pond; elsewhere Common Field Grasshoppers were numerous - George

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Climate change . . .

Despite drizzle, the Dingle turned up a bright butterfly - not the local Speckled Wood but the first Gatekeeper of the year. Both species are strong indicators of global warming, having arrived in Cheshire in recent years - and would not have been recognised by my parents, being unknown in the district when I was young. A Chiffchaff was singing above (yes, they now winter commonly in Britain - another change). But the Rabbits nearby have been here since Roman times! Amazing design - with their eyes almost at the top of their heads, as befits such nervous creatures. The Psalmist calls us "fearfully and wonderfully made"; all Creation is too: let's look after it! - George

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Elusive birds!

I looked for the Peregrine on the church tower at 6am yesterday. It was not there, but white marks show where the bird (a year-old one) roosts occasionally - most often on the south side of the tower, apparently never on the west side. It has even been seen from the windows of the Royal Mail sorting office below. Another elusive bird was a female Black Redstart, spotted by Andy Goodwin on the wall of the Lower Chequer around the beginning of June. This was very late for a migrating bird, so it is possible Black Redstarts could be nesting on buildings somewhere in the town. A thorough search by Andy has so far, however, found nothing - George

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Bee Orchid pics

Taken by Roger Foden when the plant was in full flower.

Orchids visible from Trail

Not as unusual as a Bee Orchid but still nice, a fine colony of Common Spotted Orchids on private ground has been found to be visible from the Environment Trail! In full flower with over a hundred flowering spikes (one of them white), they can be seen on the disused Waterworks Farm site (no access) from the Trail near Point No. 9. Binoculars are needed; the colony is just visible through the hedge from the Trail but can easily be seen at some 50yds range by descending less than 20yds down the side path from Point no. 9 to a hedge gap and viewing the right side of the grassy area. (The descending path has public access until it reaches the private Dingle Lane) - George

Thursday, 3 July 2008

. . . And another big sighting!

- But this one is not at ground level! Local birder Andy Goodwin reports that in the last week a Peregrine Falcon has taken to perching on the main tower of St Mary's Church, a key landmark on the Environment Trail. Less rare than they used to be, Falcons use high perches even in city centres (and even nest there), perhaps mostly for peace and quiet. On second thoughts, perhaps this one likes the church bells! - George