Sunday, July 25, 2010

Dragonfly Central

Yesterday I set off with every intention of doing another "Stone to Steel" walk from Deepcar and along Wharncliffe Crags. I missed the starting point of the walk and found myself on the Stocksbridge bypass, whence more by good luck than good management, I found myself at the TPT car park at Finkle Street at the far end of the intended walk. I set off to do the walk, just from a different starting point, but after less than a mile, I found a pond which had a large number of damselflies flitting about, and on closer inspection, I noticed that there were a lot of dragonfly nymphs ready to emerge.

I spent over an hour watching and photographing as they emerged and also saw numbers of newts in the pond. I did manage to get up onto the crags, where I sat and enjoyed the sunshine as the earliest of the heather was starting to bloom and the heath was alive with the sounds of bees and grasshoppers, and I spotted this splendid chap on the path.

Rather than complete the walk, I retraced my steps, as I was keen to see how the dragonflies were getting on. In the woodland, I saw yet another treecreeper. It's a weird fact that once you get your eye in for things, you seem to see them all the time.
The decision return to the pond was inspired because not only did I see yet more dragonflies and newts, but a grass snake - a first for me - swimming across the pond. I had hoped to see lots of butterflies, but there were relatively few considering the warm sunshine, but there were the occasional commas, gatekeepers, ringlets, and speckled woods. Still, mustn't grumble as overall, it was an excellent day's wildlife watching.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Stinky Sunday

I needed a rest yesterday, so got an early start today for a much needed stretch of the legs. As I've spent so much time in South Yorkshire recently, I decided to go towards Derbyshire today and thought it would be nice to have a wander along Burbage Edge. Big mistake. As I drove up their, the mist got thicker and thicker, so I cut back through Hathersage and Bamford and parked up by the viaduct at Ladybower (still plenty of room at 8am). As I set off it was pouring with rain, but eventually it settled into a pattern of showers.

Not a day for stunning photos, but a gentle circuit of the northern arm of the reservoir was very pleasant with the unexpected bonus of a surprising number of fungi - bolbitius vitellinus, blusher, larch boletes and more stinkhorns than I've ever seen along the western shore. Birds seen include lots of house martins and goldfinches, a heron, a pair of grey wagtails and a very noisy wren.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Stone to Steel

Discovered a website based on the Stocksbridge area with some interesting- looking walks. I was going to do one which took in Wharncliffe Woods and Heath, but then changed my mind and set off for one which began in Glen Howe Park at Wharncliffeside and took me through the Wildlife Trust site at Carr House Meadows, in the hope that it was not too late for the best of the show of meadow flowers.

It was an extremely nice walk, and one which I shall no doubt do again, but was a touch disappointing on the wildlife front. Maybe my expectations are too high. Saw one dragonfly in the woodland at Glen Howe, but only fleetingly. Bird highlights included lesser spotted woodpecker (fleetingly) and treecreeper. Butterflies aplenty, including speckled wood, gatekeeper (also seen in my garden), small tortoiseshell, and red admiral

The flower meadow was looking past its best but still had a real magical summer feel about it. I imagine it will be cut soon, so at least I saw it before that happened. Must make myself a note to go earlier next year.

Saturday, July 03, 2010


Now I've got my iPad, and a blogging app, there's no excuse for me to be so lazy about blogging. Recently I've spent a lot of my precious Saturdays in the Dearne valley, which is just great for wildlife, and has more RSPB reserves and wetlands than you can shake a stick at. Today I had a gentle stroll from Bolton Ings to Old Moor along the trans-pennine trail, having done a stretch from Mexborough via Denaby Ings last week. The best bit was actually at the start of the walk, where I found an idyllic pond just off the trail, and sat in the sunshine watching swans, various ducks, damsel an dragonflies and some reed warblers flitting around in the lovely sunshine.