WILDLIFE REPORT OCTOBER - DECEMBER 2016
A mild and dry autumn with late colours, leaf fall and appearance of fungi
Trial plot of 10m x10m sown with 600 Yellow Rattle seeds to try to reduce the grasses in the wildflower meadow.
“Carrs in Autumn” walk on Oct 17th was successful with 12 people. We identified 12 common trees from their leaves and measured the girth of the trunks to age 120 year old Oak and 40 year old Black Poplar. Fungi seen were Puffballs, Earthstars, Jelly Rot, Jelly Ear and Shaggy Parasols, all in the photo display on wildlife board from October – December.
Ponds and carr flooded from River Mersey to depth of 1.5m covering dipping platform and Gatley Brook footpath.
New motorway fence caused some habitat disturbance but opened up marginal path to Gatley Brook tunnel.
A few more fungi appeared but still a poor year so far.
Mink seen on the ice covered pond - the first record for several years. Not a good sign for fish and wildfowl.
Good collection of teasels, pine cones and leaves made and decorated for the Christmas tree on December 11th attended by about 20 adults and 10 children.
John Pollard 14th December 2016
WILDLIFE/NATURE REPORT- JUNE-SEPTEMBER 2016
The past three months on the Carrs have been a time of much good news for wildlife and a little bad.
The wildflower meadow had a good show of wildflowers with fewer invasive seeding thistles than last year. We didn’t manage to collect Yellow Rattle seeds as we had hoped to plant to supress the grasses. So we shall have to buy seeds to scatter when the meadow is cut.
The orchard produced good fruit on a few trees, 1plum, 1damson, 2 Bramley cooking apples and a few eating apples. One apple tree was destroyed by the mowing tractor but SMBC will replace it this winter. Also we need to have the fruit trees professionally pruned this year to increase fruiting.
We have had exciting new records of wildlife, including Angelica and Fennel plants by the pond, Collared Earthstar fungus in the motorway woodland and a Weasel spotted hunting in the wildflower meadow. Although we had disappointing number of visitors on the Nature Awareness Day in June, more than 15 children enjoyed successful pond dipping when sticklebacks, water boatmen, damselfly nymphs, water mites, newt larvae, and greater pond snails were found in the dipping pond.
Sadly unauthorised independent action around the bird pond caused pondside vegetation to be cut down and garden plants Rudbeckia, Crocosmia and Phlox to be planted. These had to be removed to prevent them seeding in this most protected area of the Carrs, the grade C Site of Biological Importance. We have to follow the agreed management plan with SMBC to retain our status as a Local Nature Reserve.
Several task days and work by volunteers have successfully ‘ bashed the balsam’, although perhaps a little late to make a big impression. We are hoping that SMBC will carry out injection of Japanese Knotweed this autumn as it has made a major comeback in some areas.
The highlight this summer is our receiving the Green Flag Community Award again, with the special mention by the judge of the excellence of our greenspace and particularly that we provide a wealth of wildlife education to our visitors.
John Pollard 20th September 2016
WILDLIFE & NATURE REPORT MARCH – JUNE 2016
Spring this year has been a bit of starts and stops with the mixed weather as was shown by the “Springwatch on the Carrs” records, maps and photos on the wildlife notice board.
MARCH - Early spring flowers, snowdrops, and ‘pussy willow’ etc. were followed by a delay for some flowers, then normal flowering dates returned by mid May.
APRIL - Ransoms and blossoms on the wild cherry and orchard fruit trees had normal flowering dates. Bluebells were early with good displays of Spanish bluebells and hybrids by Gatley Brook and banks near the pond, and English bluebells on the bank of Green Close ditch where they have been for 100 years. Fritillaries were in the wildflower meadow but cuckoo flowers and stitchwort by the brook footpath were late. Work on earthing up the wooden dam by the dipping pond has stabilised the water level.
MAY – 9th Pond dipping in preparation for the Nature Awareness Day revealed sticklebacks, water boatmen, snails and damselfly nymphs in water starwort inside the dipping pond platform, and more diverse pond life in the bird pond including tadpoles. This is the first record since 2004.
17th - Visit by naturalists from Manchester Field Club to record the biodiversity of the Site of Biological Importance (SBI) (Gatley Brook, carr and ponds, and Lorna Grove wood) added 10 new flowers, 3 grasses, 3 ferns, 2 mosses and 1 lichen to our species lists.
25th - Visit by Cheshire Wildlife and SMBC naturalist gave us advice on wildflower meadow and confirmed that we should not plant any more trees as grassland areas are important. Collect seeds in wildflower meadow and sow. Southern or Northern Marsh orchids (25) in WFM were slightly early this year.
JUNE – 1st – Bat walk with about 50 people, 4 species of bats seen and heard at about the same time as previous years but bats not so numerous.
Hot weather bought a shoal of about 50+ small roach, some 15-20cm long, to the surface of the bird pond by the ‘No fishing’ post. No wonder heron ‘Henry’ rests there! Water starwort and pond weeds are spreading in the dipping pond. By mid June WFM was in full flower with butterflies and all promises well for our Nature Awareness Day.
By John Pollard.
JANUARY – MARCH 2016
The mild autumn has continued into a mild but wet winter. The ponds filled up from the Mersey on one occasion and there was a very short-lived snowfall in early March but there have been few hard frosts.
The labelling of 30 species of trees on the Carrs, either on the trunk or branches, was completed to compliment the wildlife board display of winter twigs and buds. Hazel and Alder catkins appeared by the New Year, Snowdrops were in full flower by the 20th and Golden Saxifrage and Lesser Celandines by 31st, all slightly earlier than in most years. Late fungi appeared but were fewer in number than in previous years.
RSPB Birdwatch Jan 31st . Two leaders and two families attended on a very wet afternoon. 7 bird species seen probably not reported.
By the end of the month ‘Pussy Willow’ catkins were on Osier and Goat Willows, wild daffodils flowered and new leaves of ‘Lords and Ladies’, wild garlic and bluebells appeared. Spindle tree, Hazel and Hawthorn buds were bursting as were some of the wild roses. Ten new bird boxes were erected this month bringing the active total to 53 and 8 bat boxes.
First Blackthorn was in flower. The ’Signs of Spring’ distribution amp and photos were on the wildlife display board and the monthly bird reports were on both notice boards with appropriate species photos in the car park board. First Marsh Marigolds in flower in ‘Saxon Ditch’ by March 20th.
An article in the Guardian this month confirmed the success of the campaign to encourage people not to feed bread to ducks which has resulted in the reduction of 80,000 loaves being chucked into the water in the past twelve months, supporting our notices by the ponds. It appears that the favourite duck food is sunflower hearts which float while Canada Geese will also eat grapes, kale and tinned sweet corn!
We have had a mild and dry autumn which delayed wildlife changes.
October 2015. Display: Seeds, fruits and berries. Autumn walk on October 18th attended by about 25 people who expressed enjoyment and interest and gave donations. Plenty of fruits and berries but few fungi, delayed leaf colour.
November 2015. Display: Fungi recorded in previous years continuing to December
Tree work – Cutting back and sculpturing crack willow saplings by bird pond. Lopping and removing ivy from old trees on northern boundary. Loss of major branch from Austrian Pine by Fogg seat. Clearing hawthorns on motorway boundary fence by Highway Authority in preparation for new metal fence. Thanks to all volunteers who took part.
Ponds - Flooded when backed up from River Mersey to depth of 1m covering outfalls, carr swamp and boardwalk. Beneficial to bird pond but disturbed iron rich silt in dipping pond making it hostile to pond life.
December 2015. Display: Fungi continue then photos of ‘Carrs in Winter’ to continue into January 2016. Display of bird Christmas cards in car park. Fungi started to appear with a clump of Shaggy Parasols by the small gate from the car park. Images of Shaggy Parasol and Jelly ear are above.
January 2016. RSPB Great Bird Watch January 30-31, publicity and birdwatch?
February 2016. Task day to check and repair bird and bat boxes
March 2016. ‘Signs of Spring’ display of map and photos