Saturday, 5 November 2011

Path of gold

The leaves are falling along the Sandbach Environment Trail. Better, they are colouring gold. I thought the finest were the Plane trees near the Park pond. But then I found a veritable path of gold, where the round leaves from the Aspens below Ravenscroft Close were like giant coins all along the path. It is remarkable that even the discarded waste products of the natural environment (so differently from our human rubbish) speak of the path that the Creator has set aside for us to walk. One wonders whether Jesus liked walking in autumn. Apart from leaves, it was an excellent bird morning, with three Jays in line, and flocks of Woodpigeons, 29 Lapwings and a mewing family group of no less than five Buzzards all headed down the valley. Small tits and other birds were everywhere, and I wondered if the Nuthatch calling at the Park pond was the fledgling I photographed there in April  - George

Sunday, 2 October 2011

To woo (to wit?)

Residents of the estates near the Park will have heard Tawny Owls calling recently. It's not known whether they nest along the Environment Trail, but both a male (Wooo . . .  wuh, wuh - wuwuwu Wooo) and and female (To Wit, or more like Kewick) have been heard. I seem to remember that in Watership Down, Richard Adams claimed that it was four rabbit heartbeats between the calls of a hunting owl. one would have thought a rabbit's heart would have been beating faster than that at the sound! But the perfection of the natural system is astonishing. The wonderful intricacy of the natural kingdom is a reflection for many of us of the wonderful intimacy of what Jesus called the kingdom of God "among you".   - George

Tuesday, 20 September 2011


See the panel on right for more details of our next walk on Sunday 2nd October at 2-30pm  - George

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Remember September

After the world- weariness of August, when nearly all the vegetation seems to have reached its peak and started withering, September is a refershing month. Like hope that springs eternal, the richness of the autumn is where yesterday's vigour and tomorrow's designs meet. At the Park Pond, all the Hemp Agrimony in the marsh and the Water Mint by the water were in their last full flower, though the pond was choked with Broad-leaved Pondweed and most of the 20 or so heads of the Bulrush (or Great Reedmace) were heavily gone to seed. Yet the Robins were singing at full belt, focusing only on what was to come. I'd rather be a Robin.  - George

Friday, 5 August 2011

Summer passing

Summer is passing fast. As Billy Graham once said "Life is shorter than you think". Even more so for summer, but the month of August is a rich one, bringing out the butterflies with 9 Gatekeepers at the Dingle, still a couple of Speckled Woods and, my favourite, a couple of Small Coppers. A wealth of Bumblebees were working away at all the blossom. They know that winter is coming, and they prepare for it well  - George

Monday, 11 July 2011

Downloadable guide

A new way of downloading and/or printing the Sandbach Environment Trail guide (now from Google Docs instead of Scribd) is now available through the link on the left. A good excuse for walking it! Also thanks for nice comments received about the blog, Trail and guide! God bless  - George

Sunday, 5 June 2011

New Bs

A rather damp walk for Environment Sunday around the Sandbach Environment Trail was certainly not dampening for nature observers. At least three of a new species of bee for the trail, the Tree Bumblebee, were spotted. First arrived in the UK in 2001 and the first new bumblebee in the UK for 150 years, this species (brown back, black body, white tail) has arrived due to global warming. Also spotted were, at Point No. 10, the first plant of the scarce Common Birdsfoot (picture) seen on the Trail for three years, as well as the very first Common Spotted Orchids at Waterworks Farm and lots of lovely summer flowers, although no Garden Warbler singing at the pond today. But even when people aren't watching because of the weather, Creation goes on creating surprises!  - George

Monday, 30 May 2011

Stop press - new bird!

Re the report below - Andrew Bailey says: "Your bird sang from time to time, and while I was waiting for its early warble to develop into a full-throated Blackcap song, it didn't! I'm satisfied it was a Garden Warbler, a nice record. What's more there was a Blackcap singing from time to time across the path near the fishing lake, and although this bird was later answered by another Blackcap 100 yards or so further on, 'our' bird took no notice. I think the strong wind restricted birdsong; it certainly made observation difficult and I didn't see it. I heard G S Woodpecker, Chiffchaff, Coal Tit, in addition to probably three Blackcaps and the Garden Warbler"  - George pp Andrew.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Birds at the pond

At the Park pond there was lots of bird life yesterday. Was it, wasn't it? One singing bird just might have been a garden warbler, not a blackcap - a new bird for the Trail, if so. Something that was definitely present was a lot of high pitched whistling. I tracked it down to a family of newly fledged nuthatches! Their parents were so distracted by their youngsters' demands that I was able eventually to stand really close. The adult birds were feeding at a frantic rate, grabbing eveything in sight that they could push down the throat of the nearest juvenile - even the one that landed on a branch four feet from me and started going to sleep! Here's a couple of pictures - but do we ever realise how much our heavenly Father is focussed on us?  - George

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Singing restoration

A sound caught my ears while standing in the High Street. It was a birdsong, a loud one - but from where? It was coming from somewhere high, and it was a Mistle Thrush. Finally, I tracked it down: the bird was singing from the one place I had assumed it could not possible be using - a perch high on the scaffolding on St Mary's Church tower!
Perhaps we should always regard restoration as something to celebrate. Anything that was failing and is now being restored is very much in line with the purpose of God's people. My Mistle Thrush was wiser than I was - and closer to heaven, too!  - George

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Full swing season

Everything enjoys this season of God's created year. At the Dingle, Bluebells were in flower plus the first Bulbous Buttercup. At the Park pond the Sloe blossom was still beautiful and a Blackcap was singing, while beside the lane a white butterfly when it settled turned out to be a delicate female Orange-Tip (a male was nearby). On the grass, twelve teenagers and a Mistle Thrush all occupied their perfect places in Jesus and His Father's plan for them. Wood Forget-me-nots lined the path up to Ravenscroft Close and a stunning Large Red-tailed Bumble-Bee was beside them. Further along, a Buzzard soared over Offley Wood (presumably from a different pair from the Wheelock birds). It seemed to me there was a great sense of relief everywhere, as the memories of all that snow of last winter melted away. Easter reminds us of the hope that the gift of faith through the the Cross and Resurrection bring. Dark and coldness may not be past in our lives yet, but one day we know they will be.  - George

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Litter and bees

It's astonishing where litter can get to. Our A Rocha litter pick this morning along the Environment Trail turned up various items including a roller blind, and three footballs in the Park pond. Oh, and I got covered in Coke when a bottle I was retrieving turned out to be unopened! But it was a pleasure to be out on a spring morning, one which included my first bumble-bee of the year as well as many singing birds and the first lesser celandines. Also a pile of eight cigarette lighters behind a tree. We live in an excruciatingly bittersweet world, in which the evidence of human nature and the evidence of God's love in Creation are juxtaposed often heartbreakingly. Which is why Christians believe in Someone who, the doctors tell us, evidently died as His heart literally broke, under the physical strain of the Cross. Let us always remember that Jesus sacrifice was so that we might live new lives, not carrying on treating His world in the same old way - destructively, unsustainably, and tragically especially for the poor whom He loved most of all.  - George  

Monday, 28 February 2011

Dawn Chorus event

Please note details of the dawn chorus event in panel on right.

Sunday, 27 February 2011


The Snowdrop season is late this year. Yet after such a harsh weather period, they are worth the wait, and at their best at the moment. Perhaps the finest display is in St Mary's Churchyard, while they occur sparsely in other areas of the Trail and half buried in Ivy in St Mary's Wood. Our common species, Galanthus nivalis, is usually assumed not to be native to the UK. But the jury may still be out on that, as they grow as a definite wild plant as near to us as France, and some of the displays in woodlands and especially along river banks in western England, where they can turn the ground white over a wide area, seem simply too extensive to have been planted by human hand. One theory is that Snowdrop was an uncommon wild flower that was spread widely by organised planting by the church - thus now associated often with churchyards and old religious foundations, ruined abbeys and priories. We still appreciate Snowdrops as flawless symbols of purity and cleanliness, so they are a true reminder of the perfection that appeared defeated by the dark winter of Calvary, but sprang up again to give us all the chance to share the new life of Easter.  - George

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Wise Men and Bullfinches

Epiphany ( the season that remembers the Wise Men) has this year been a time to draw breath after a bitter period. A sunny morning and a friend who wanted to see a Bullfinch turned out to be a breath of fresh air. The hedge round the perimeter of Waterworks Farm is perhaps the best spot to find a Bullfinch in the Green Corridor, and there it was - a pristine male, and for once a friend greatly impressed. One of the finest dressed of all british sonbirds, I often think - even if the feeble piping that is its only song is a let-down, despite being the best way to find this shy bird. But Bullfinches are seen by few, because few try hard enoug. As the Christmas syying is, "Wise Men Still Seek Him" - and it takes a bit of seeking to spot one of the beauties of His Creation, too! - George