GATLEY CARRS WILDLIFE REPORT – SEPTEMBER TO DECEMBER 2018
After a record hot summer, autumn has returned to normal being mild and moderately wet. Wild Flower Meadow (WFM) was not cut for hay this September after the emergency cut for fire risk in July. Therefore we are uncertain of the consequence of this for the wildflowers in the Spring as grasses have grown unchecked. Pond water levels have remained high and the carr flooded on one occasion.
September: A few early fungi seen including a large Shaggy Ink Cap or ‘Lawyer’s Wig’ in the WFM and a new record of Dyer’s Saddle bracket fungus in the motorway woodland. Orchard fruited well for some species plums, Bramley apples, a few damsons and some eating apples - all appreciated by the community.
October: Up to 10 species of fungi were showing in time for the planned “Carrs in Autumn” walk postponed to November on account of bad weather. Plenty of autumn berries on Guelder Rose, Dog Rose, Rowan, Hawthorn, Dogwood and Spindle tree.
November: Delayed autumn walk attended by 14 people with several new families with enquiring children! Fewer fungi than in September but persistent Earth Stars in motorway woodland. Good variety of leaves, twigs and Hogweed stems to make decorations for the Christmas tree, were collected on November 25th. Invasive Blackthorn cut back by Pickup seat to reveal our dragonfly nature post.
Donation of two Bird Cherry trees by the seat in grassland near carpark.
December: Another successful, well publicised and well supported decorating and carols around the Christmas tree on December 16th.
Visits from Altrincham and Marple naturalists this year have resulted in requests for follow up talks on the history of the Carrs in 2019.
Also we hope to have the dangerous dead Crack Willow trees by Gatley Brook path removed by SMBC this winter.
WILDLIFE REPORT – JULY TO SEPTEMBER 2018
The record breaking high temperatures and drought of June and July had major effects on the wildlife of the Carrs, particularly on the wild flowers.
JULY: On July 7th, 12 members of Marple Naturalists were shown round the Carrs. They expressed pleasure and interest, left a small donation and I am giving them a talk on the history of the Carrs next May.
The following week SMBC cut the WFM and grassland two months early to avoid the risk of fire as seen on the Pennine moors.
Mid July to mid-August was the ‘Great Butterfly Count, publicised on the wildlife board. Fewer butterflies were seen on account of the loss of flowers but regular species were recorded by Chris in the bird report.
AUGUST: There were very few summer flowers in WFM or grassland but photos of those usually expected were displayed on the wildlife board. The prolonged drought did have some effect on the trees with two Oak saplings in the Jubilee meadow and a Goat willow behind the wildlife board dying. Most other trees recovered.
The hot sunny weather seemed to advance the fruiting in the orchard and gave a prolific crop of blackberries. In late August there was a profusion of plums, a few damsons, Bramley cooking apples and at least two eating apple trees, but disappointment from greengages, cherries, pears and some apples. Wild crab apple trees were laden with fruit.
SEPTEMBER: Good crops of wild fruits and seeds were apparent in early September. Red berries of Lords and Ladies on the ground, on Hawthorn, Rowan, Guelder Rose trees and hips on the wild roses. Purple berries on Elder and Dogwood and a few sloes on the Blackthorn, Pink 4-lobed fruits on Spindle tree and ‘conkers on Horse Chestnut and prickly fruits on our one remaining Sweet Chestnut. There were a few late flowers, blue Meadow Cranesbill, white trumpets of Field Bindweed on the brambles, and white umbels of Hogweed and Yarrow in WFM and grassland. Pink flowers of Rosebay and Greater Willowherb and on rare Herb Robert and Red Campion. Winged seeds are on Ash, Sycamore, Norway and Field Maple trees.
Early autumn fungi have begun to appear, rare Parasol Mushrooms, a newly recognised Dryad’s Saddle bracket fungus on logs in the motorway woodland where Earthstars are continuing to spread. A promising autumn!
We are not sure what effect of not haymaking the WFM this autumn will have on its flowering next year?
In late autumn or winter SMBC may plant 6 or 12 new donated fruit trees and the seven dead and dangerous Crack Willow trees by Gatley Brook path are due to be removed when funding permits.
WILDLIFE REPORT – APRIL TO JUNE 2018
After a cold, wet and late Spring in March and April, nature burst into life in a dry and warm May and June.
APRIL ‘Signs of Spring’ records on the wildlife notice board showed that many plants such as Marsh Marigolds, Wild Garlic, Cherry blossom, Bluebells appeared by the month end, about 1 or 2 weeks late this year. April 22nd ‘Trees and Flowers in Spring’ walk was attended by 12 people. Up to 50 Fritillary flowers appeared from 12th of April.
MAY First brood of Canada goslings (7) on May 4th, second brood (6?) May 14th. Both broods disappeared quickly. New signboard installed by dipping pond in time for the visit of the Green Flag judge on May 9th. Thanks to Peter, Alan and Jim for this excellent new board. Visit of Altrincham Natural History Society identified several new plant records, including Lange-leaved Avens introduced from North America. Although the planned ‘Ugly Bug Ball’ was cancelled, visits from Dave Higginson-Tranter compensated with listings of insects and fungi, many new. The 7 mature Crack Willows on the Gatley Brook path by the nursery fence failed to come into leaf this year, so possibly DEAD? Reported to Anthony Crook SMBC Tree officer who inspected but either he didn’t recognize them or he said of no immediate concern? May plants including Hawthorn, Lords and Ladies, Comfrey, Yellow Iris, Guelder Rose all flowered more or less at the usual time.
JUNE Moorhen chicks reported on June 4th. Wildflower meadow flowers and grasses in full growth with about 10 Southern Marsh Orchids, fewer Ox-eye Daisies this year and widespread Yellow Rattle which seem to be suppressing the grasses. Alan and volunteers cut back the thistles which seem to be declining.
FORTHCOMING EVENTS June 24th ‘Balsam Bash’ 10.00am car park
June 26th ‘ Gatley Festival Evening Walk’ 6.30pm car park
July 1st GCCG stall at Gatley Festival. Help needed.
July first week result of Green Flag application expected. Alan and Jim are going to the presentation in Dewsbury on July 16th
July 7th Visit of Marple Naturalists to be shown around the Carrs LNR
CARRS WILDLIFE REPORT JANUARY – MARCH 2018
This winter has been one of mixed weather for wildlife, mild damp spells interspersed with cold, windy ones with few days of ice and snow.
JANUARY – Hazel and Alder catkins in flower, first Snowdrops bursting by January 5th. Strong winds brought down one of the 100yr old Turkey Oaks in the railway/Green Close ditch. Successful RSPB Big Birdwatch on January 28th recorded 20 species, including 10 of those on the watch list.
Displays: “Carrs in Winter” and RSPB Birdwatch results
FEBRUARY – Excellent display of Snowdrops under the Norway Maple tree by February 8th, joined in early March by others to the bank to the north along with wild Dafodills. First Celendines seen along Gatley Brook in late February, about the usual time. Very good winter scenes of various habitats shown on Facebook. Bird table vandalised but replaced and a new bird feeder. Bird and bat box survey showed that about 10 bird boxes lost, about 30 still in place and 8 bat boxes, but few new ones erected this year. Fieldfares and Redpolls seen in gardens in the snowy periods.
Displays: “Trees and Buds in Winter”
MARCH – Purple Crocuses planted last autumn finally appeared by March 13th then made a spectacular display. Photos on Facebook showed, Field Speedwell and Lungwort or Pulmonaria (planted) in flower and diverse fungi, Scarlet Elf Cap, Bushing Bracket, Mazegill and Jelly Ear, also yellow lichen Xanthoria with spore capsules, all appearing by March 11th.
Displays: “Signs of Spring and where to see them”