Local walks over the Easter break have revealed some of the usual suspects. No real surprises, but it is just nice to see familiar species and some at more or less the time we might expect to see them. However, the cowslips at the Balk area near to Stanley Flash are perhaps slightly early with some flowers beginning to go over. At the flash itself there are abundant goat willows in flower providing a useful nectar source for insects such as over wintering Peacock butterflies and bees although none where seen on my walks this time.
At Bretton Park, wood anemone are providing a welcome sight in the woodland around the upper lake. This plant can be an indicator of ancient woodland, which is an area that has been treed in some way for around four hundred years and therefore they are an irreplaceable and valuable habitat. Occasionally wood anemone may also be found in some of the district’s meadows or hedge banks and here it is possible they may be ‘ghosts plants’ from a long lost woodland. Also, the upper and lower lakes at Bretton Park have once again attracted frogs to spawn.
Frogspawn at Bretton CP
Images of some spectacularly early bluebells in flower, together with flowering dog’s mercury, and a feeding small tortoiseshell butterfly taken on 17 March at the Nostell Priory estate woodlands help to show how some of our wildlife are responding to the recent spell of settled, and at times, pleasantly warm weather, especially in the shelter provide by mature woodlands at this time of year.
Dogs Mercury in flower
Bluebells appearing at Nostell
Pauline’s report on 16 February of the area’s first flowering colt’s-foot of the year encouraged a visit to a good spot for this plant on my regular walks around the Nostell Priory estate. I saw the first flowers here much later at the start of this month. However, recent wildflower sightings over the last few days have included primrose, dog’s mercury and male yew trees that have been dusting passersby with clouds of pollen. Interestingly, the female and male flowers on dog’s mercury and yew trees grow on separate plants. Another welcome flower of spring noticed on my walks at Nostell is the lesser celandine growing in woodland and damp places. It belongs to the buttercup family whereas the greater celandine is a member of the poppy family. It just shows common English names can be confusing. An image of the lesser celandine is attached. Bird sightings have included the usual woodland suspects together with frequent calls of a green woodpecker. The lower lake gives opportunities to still get good views of the goosanders and grey herons, images of which are attached.
Goosander (female) at Nostell