WILDLIFE REPORT OCTOBER – DECEMBER 2019
This autumn has been a quiet time for wildlife on the Carrs with mild temperatures, heavy rain and a couple of light frosts.
We did not hold our usual “Autumn on the Carrs” walk following the success of the 20th Anniversary History talk and Wildlife films in September.
The highlight of October was the diversity of fungi appearing on the decayed tree trunks and rotten wood soil placed in the motorway woodland for this purpose in 1996 by SMBC. First an extensive crop of Earthstars with a Giant Parasol toadstool with a cap 25cm in diameter and pear-shaped Stump Puffballs. On one day, 20th October, there were 6 species, Stump Puffball, Collared Earthstar, Small and Pale Stagshorns and Clustered and Grooved Bonnets. The display of fungi from this year and previous years has remained in the wildlife display board on the upper field from October to December.
As the wildflower meadow has remained uncut for 18 months its reversion to rough grassland has become more apparent. Seeding docks, thistles, nettles, and cow parsley with grasses dominate. Let us hope that its poor state will not downgrade any inspection for the Green Flag Community Award next year?
One day in mid-November there were about 60 blue Alder Leaf Beetles on the frame of the dipping pond display board. It seems that they probably descended with the leaf fall of the overhanging large Alder tree. Perhaps this was a mating assembly, prior to them surviving the winter in the soil to emerge on to the new Alder leaves next spring.
Flooding of the ponds and carr recurred by backing up through the drains from the Mersey. This is good for maintaining the carr swamp habitat of which the Carrs is one of the few examples remaining in Stockport.
This year we have not held either the collection of natural tree decorations or decorating the Christmas tree but we urge members and visitors to make the most of healthy walks on the Carrs over the Christmas and New Year season. As usual on the car park board we wish ‘Season’s Greetings’ to all our visitors.
WILDLIFE REPORT – JULY TO SEPTEMBER 2019
Overall perhaps this has been a slightly disappointing summer for wildlife on the Carrs. Few wildflowers in the WFM were able to compete with the flourishing grasses and weeds following early cutting last year. In the ponds water quality and pond margin water plants seem to have been affected by our overpopulation of dabbling ducks. However, information and excellent insect photos on Facebook page are an excellent source of new data.
JULY – AUGUST
Fewer wildflowers were evident than in previous years and by September the profusion of seeding thistles and docks, suggest that the WFM may be reverting to uncut grassland? On July 21st entomologists Dave HT and Ant Marriot visited the Carrs and recorded a variety of insects including, hoverflies (6), bugs (13), beetles (8), butterflies (6), galls (6) and 56 species of wildflowers. Painted ladies appeared later this year as nationally – a reasonable diversity for the Great Butterfly Count, although we did not enter this year. Thanks to Ant Marriot, Josie Liebrick and Sue Pilling for their insect photos.
The flooding of the ponds in early August left more silt than usual on the drowned marginal plants suggesting more silt in the water from the ducks and the dipping pond is devoid of marginal pond weeds. However, moorhens and heron seem unaffected although perhaps there were fewer mallard ducklings and goslings this year and the little grebe has not been seen.
SEPTEMBER – season of fruits and seeds
The profusion of blossom in the orchard in April and May has not produced extra fruiting, virtually no plums this year, good crops of Bramley and several eating apples, but few pears, damsons,no greengages and cherries bird eaten! Plentiful red berries on Rowan and Guelder Rose, Hawthorn and Dog rose, purple elderberries but few black berries on sloes or Dogwood. Spindle tree’s 4-lobed fruits are as distinctive as ever. The profusion of hazel nuts seen earlier in the summer seem to have been removed by squirrels? Winged seeds of Sycamore, Norway and Field maples litter the ground and wild Hops are by Gatley Brook path.
Early autumn fungi are appearing with new earthstars in motorway woodland and two types of bracket fungus on willow logs by the dipping pond.
Look out for the variety of fruits, seeds and fungi to come as displayed on our wildlife board on the upper field as autumn progresses.
GATLEY CARRS WILDLIFE REPORT APRIL-JUNE 2019
The mild and dry Spring continued through April and May, but the unsettled weather and periods of heavy rain in early June, perhaps promises a Summer of mixed weather to come.
Usual Spring flowers appeared at about usual time. Good banks of Bluebells, Spanish hybrids by the bird pond and English native ones by Green Close ditch. White Ransoms or wild Garlic followed by Gatley Brook. The orchard fruit trees and wild cherries were covered in blossom which seems to have set good fruit as there was no frost this year. Up to 20 Fritillaries appeared in WFM amongst the dense grasses.
Yellow seems to be the dominant flower colour this month with Dandelions. Geum or Wood Avens, Yellow Archangel, Flag Iris on the pond, Buttercups in WFM and pendulous flower spikes on Norway Maple and Sycamore. Excellent white Hawthorn (May) blossom, Guelder Rose and less obvious small 4 petalled flowers on the Spindle tree.
By June the adverse effects of the early cutting of the WFM last year in July for fire safety began to be evident. Few Yellow Rattle flowered, no Southern Marsh Orchids are yet to be seen among the dense and diverse flowering grasses. Elsewhere white is this month’s colour, few Ox-eye Daisies in WFM, Hogweed, Cow Parsley in grassland and Ground Ivy along path side with white Clover. Prolific display of white Elder flowers. Strap like leaves of Ribwort Plantain in WFM and broader parallel-veined leaves of Broad -leaved Plantain along path margins. Pink and purple flowers of Grass-leaved and Common Vetch in WFM together with early blue flowers of Meadow Cranesbill.
On 10th of June our local naturalist David Higginson–Tranter visited the Carrs and posted a list of insects seen on our Facebook page and his website www. funfalpunknature.co.uk. These include species of; moths (6), hoverflies (11), bugs (4), bees (4), ladybirds (3), flies (3) weevils (2), beetles, galls (11), common frog and the delicate small grassland fungus Ribbed Inkcap which resembles a ‘Japanese parasol’! Many thanks as always Dave!
Rumour has it that the white Runner ducks visited Albert Snape’s garden pond on Park Road while absent from the Carrs for a few days?! Amazing if true !
GATLEY CARRS WILDLIFE REPORT JANUARY – MARCH 2019
Yet again we have had a mild winter with only one snowfall and nearly a week of record high temperatures in February leading to early Spring appearances.
The New Year began with good displays of Hazel and Alder male catkins throughout the reserve.
The annual survey of bird and bat boxes revealed that we had lost >10 bird boxes and 2 bat boxes. Alan and Jim replaced 7 bird boxes and 2 bat boxes in February.
By the month end Snowdrops were bursting into flower.
The one day snowfall in freezing temperatures led to a spectacular icy tracery on trees and bushes, now adopted as our Facebook header and shown on display boards.
Scarlet Elf Cup fungi were photographed and shown on our Facebook page, as were the carpets of Snowdrops. Early Daffodils appeared although not so many of the original planting of wild ones by the upper field waste bin.
Furry ‘Pussy’willow catkins of Goat and Grey Willow were in flower by the month end.
The ‘Signs of Spring’ map and displays were on the wildlife board complementing Margaret’s seasonal paintings on the carpark board.
By the beginning of March Crocuses appeared by the orchard but were short lived as destroyed by SMBC tractor and mower.
Leaves of Wild Garlic were sprouting along Gatley Brook as were patches of green Golden Saxifrage.
The Spring flowering of the wild flower meadow, especially the Fritillaries, is uncertain at present as the grasses are very vigorous, not having been cut since July 2018.
The red catkins of male Black Poplar will soon be seen littering the paths near the Daffodils and Snowdrops. Hawthorns are coming into leaf and Blackthorn flowering soon.
The appearance of the sextet of Indian Runner ducks adds to our record of invasive species, terrapins, Kio carp and parakeets. These domestic flightless ducks are often used for entertainment in agricultural shows. A few years ago I saw of flock of 10 running through obstacles being herded by a sheep dog at the Kirkcudbight show in Scotland! Although attractive to children their survival is qustionable from dogs and foxes and hopefully will not affect the breeding of native waterfowl.
We have recently been reassured that finance is available for the removal of the dangerous dead Crack Willow trees by Gatley Brook path, so we hope that it will happen soon.