Nature Blog Network

lapwings

No, I have never seen lapwings on the lane, but there are plenty on Saunder Height. Or at least there were. 50+ of them, regularly, year after year.

Not this year. This year they are down to single figures. And I've no idea why. There has been no apparent change in the field and or the number of predators that I'm aware of

There is usually a large colony at Knuzden Brook, just outside Blackburn. That is still there, but the numbers are well down.

A few weeks ago we were at Leighton Moss RSPB and there were thousands of them, pee-witting all over the place. I was talking to one of the wardens at Martin Mere yesterday and he said there were plenty there as well.

So why have they all gone to the seaside (well, Burscough!)?

bluebells

There are three types of bluebell common in Britain: the native British bluebell, the Spanish bluebell common in gardens and hybrids between the two other species. Native bluebells are common in deciduous woodlands, with apparently half of all the world's bluebells being in the UK. Unfortunately the incidence of Spanish bluebells in woods is increasing to the decrement of the native species, with hybrids adding to the picture. This, together with habitat decline, is leading to a decrease in the native bluebell population.

According to Plantlife, native bluebells have:

- narrower leaves than the Spanish variety
- deep blue, narrow, tube-like flowers with the tips curled back. White or pink variants are rare.
- flowers predominantly on one side of the stem with a drooping appearance
- cream anthers

whereas the Spanish variety have:

- broader leaves, often over 3 cm wide
- paler blue, white or pink flowers
- upright stem with flowers all around
- no or little scent
- blue anthers

Whilst beautiful to look at, the bluebells in Springhill Lane and the Paddock are of the Spanish variety, possibly escapes from our garden although before our time here. The lovely bluebell wood isn't in Deadwenclough (actually on Bury Road)


bluebells lane 200 bluebells native 200

Big Garden Bird Watch results

The RSPB has announced the results of the Big Garden Bird Watch. Their top 10:

  • House Sparrow - average of 4 per garden
  • Starling
  • Blue Tit
  • Blackbird - seen in 88% of gardens but total numbers are dropping.
  • Wood Pigeon
  • Goldfinch
  • Chaffinch
  • Great Tit
  • Robin
  • Long Tailed Tit - new entry!

The RSPB suggest that the mild winter has led to an increased number of small garden birds surviving the winter.

Our top 10?

  • House sparrow
  • Common Gull
  • Dunnock
  • Blackbird
  • Wood pigeon
  • Magpie
  • Carrion Crow
  • Great Tit
  • Robin
  • Chaffinch

Snowdrops

I was pointed towards the BSBI's identification guide for snowdrops recently. In my ignorance I thought a snowdrop was a snowdrop but should have known better.

So armed with the guide off I went to look at the local snowdrops, sadly not wild.

snowdrop 200

The identifying features are:

leaf width: narrow or broad, i.e. wider or more narrow than the little finger nail
leaf colour: blue-grey or bright green
leaf base: wrap around or flat facing
petal mark: mouth, base, both or solid

Well the key wasn't difficult to apply to the local snowdrops. Leaf narrow is Galanthus nivalis. The next feature is single or double flowers, the double flowered version being G nivalis 'Flore Pleno'. Ours are single, so G nivalis it is then.

The guide continues to describe a wide variety of interesting petal marks, including sad faces and chromosomal patters. Unfortunately ours are not yet fully open so observation of petal markings will have to wait.

Well-behaved tree?

Below is a snap of a tree from the Grizedale Hide at Leighton Moss Nature reserve. The prevailing weather comes from the south west, on the right of the snap.

Tree Leighton Moss cropped 200

It is doing many of the things the nature books say a tree should:

It has 'overblown' branches on the side of the prevailing weather
it has straggling branches away from the weather, on the north (left) side
It is drier on the south side, to the right of the picture

This latter statement is frequently found in nature books, that a tree is drier on the south side which receives more sunlight. Conversely the trunk is damper with heavier algae and moss growth on the north side, which receives less sun.

It appears that the ash tree on the lane hasn't read the books, as this is noticeably wetter with heavier moss growth on the south. This is probably because the local conditions mean that the prevailing rain comes straight up the lane in a pretty much south-north direction, whilst adjacent trees and houses means that the trunk receives very little direct sunlight.


tree lane 200 tree lane detail 200


This demonstrates nicely that local examples don't always follow generalised rules. Just hope nobody uses this to navigate by.