Rain stops play?

I was meant to be out with Crewe & Nantwich Conservation Volunteers today but with a poor weather forecast the task for Cheshire Wildlife Trust was called off. Disappointed I was but cutting back birch saplings and trying to burn them in heavy rain doesn’t sound like too much fun, especially when there is no good shelter on the Bagmere site.

I didn’t let a bad weather forecast force me to spend the day inside, however, and I went on a damp and blustery walk along the Cheshire sandstone ridge.  I’ve been there so many times that I must know most footpaths that cross the series of low hills.


I set off from the far end of the hills, from the Bickerton Hill car park near Duckington.  I walked up onto the ridge and headed north-eastwards and then down into the village of Bickerton.  I stopped for a moment outside the church to listen to the Remembrance Sunday service but then walked up the road and onto the next hill towards Raw Head.

Across the top of the ridge, there was dampness in the air but no rain, the wind growing in strength and beginning to roar in the trees.  I stopped momentarily at the trig point but then pressed on towards Coppermine Lane and then on to Bulkeley Hill.  On top, low cloud was hanging in the trees giving an ominous feeling to the woodland.


Coming down off the hill, I walked through the fields to Burwardsley and then down the roads towards Harthill.  The sky started to brighten as I walked around the small hill behind the village, with even a bit of blue sky appearing between the briskly blown clouds.

Behind that small hill I came across a newly built replica Observer Corps watchtower – looking over the Cheshire Plain towards the Wirral and Merseyside.


After passing through Brown Knowl and making my way up the last hill, the clouds finally started to drop their rain as I neared the car. Nine miles with rain only at the very end wasn’t exactly what had been forecast.

Rain stopped play? Well, somethings are better in the dry but a threat of rain isn’t going to stop me getting outside.


Proper Autumn

Yesterday, as I often do if I have a quiet Sunday afternoon, I took a wander around Wybunbury Moss.  It had been a misty day but it had cleared in places.  The trees were shedding their leaves which have turned into a fine range of yellows, reds, oranges and golds. The last of the fruits and berries remain on the branches, yet to be picked by the birds.  There were signs of badgers clearing out their setts, ready for winter and some of our colder-month visitors were passing through.


As I walked around my usual route, the sun dipped below the trees and the colder air began to sink into the hollow in which the Moss lies.  The mist started to form once again and as the last of the light, an eerie silence fell on the landscape, the land-hugging clouds seeming to mask any sounds from outside.


Two visits to Bagmere

Last Sunday I went to Bagmere with Crewe & Nantwich Conservation Volunteers (CNCV) to work for Cheshire Wildlife Trust. We got on with our usual task of fighting back the encroachment of tree saplings onto the fenland landscape and burning what we cut.  Unfortunately, the wood has to be burnt on site due to inaccessibility for vehicles and the distance from the road.  However, it’s no hardship for most of us and some (well me, actually) always look forward to the colder months when we can have a big fire – there’s no better way to finish a task than sitting around a fire in the last of the day’s sun, as the flames die down and the last of its heat keeps you warm – marvellous!


I returned to Bagmere on yesterday to start my winter bird surveys for the season.  Like the breeding bird surveys I do for Cheshire Wildlife Trust, I visit the Trust’s Bagmere and Blakenhall Moss reserves to record bird species.  Unlike the surveys in spring and early summer, the winter versions are simpler as I only note the number of individual birds of each species I see.

Walking around the reserve on Saturday was lovely, the sun had broken through the early morning fog and a bright blue sky emerged.  I spent just less than an hour walking from one end of the reserve to the other and recorded 22 species altogether.  I didn’t find anything unusual but it was good to start the surveys with a reasonably good list.

Unfortunately, as with the four breeding bird survey visits between March and June and last of the previous winter bird surveys in January, I didn’t record willow tits, a red-listed species.  This means that I haven’t recorded them at all so far this year across all the survey visits and several tasks with CNCV.  The Wildlife Trust installed some nest boxes for them in the early spring, in the area of the reserve where I had last recorded them and I spent some extra time in that area to see if they were around.  It would be a depressing finding if they have disappeared – this is only the second full year of surveys I have done at the reserve, with my surveys being the first ever undertaken at the site.