DALS WILDLIFE SITE { WILDLIFE OF NORTHERN ENGLAND}

WILDLIFE OF NORTHERN ENGLAND

Hidden nature gems   The Beacon country park Lancashire.

Taking a look at the hidden gems providing by nature parks and other beauty spots in the north of England.  This is the first in the series and will explore the wildlife and scenery that the park has to offer.

The Beacon Country Park is situated near the village of Upholland, West Lancashire in the north west of England. The park consists of rolling wild flower meadows,woodland, nature trails, bridle paths and splendid panoramic views of the Lancashire coastal plains to the west, and the Pennine hills to the east. At various other locations around the 260 acre park  there are views of the Welsh mountains { Snowden is easily seen on clear days} and the Peak district.

The park offers an adjoining public golf course, driving range, visitor center with refreshments and a public bar. There is also a recently developed play area for the children. The park also has the prestigious Green Flag Award this accolade recognizes the natural beauty of the park, for its welcoming safe and maintained environment and its community involvement.

A lot of hard work is involved in gaining this status much of which is carried out by the Ranger Service who maintain and patrol the park {along with nine other sites} throughout the year.  The park plays host to the West lancashire Countryside Ranger service who are based here their compound being located at the bottom end of the main car park. The car park is accessed from either Mill Lane or the Beacon Lane via Elmers Green Lane.

 Photograph    above- Dal        --      Rangers compound at the Country park.

To begin our exploration of the park we are to make our way to the entrance of the car park and turn immediately left. This is a continuation of Elmers Green Lane but is denied vehicle access by means of a barrier. Once we have joined the lane the golf course is to our right. The golf course offers a good view across an open aspect. On the left hand side of the lane, as we walk down the hill, is the back of the driving range building which is obscured from view by the trees. I have walked down this lane when every thing is touched with the spirit of spring, the fresh cut apple smell of a spring dawn , when the trees are clad in their new greenery, the ambience tranquil and wholly absorbing. when all living things are vigorous an orchestration of new life.

One of the first flowers to rise from the barren leaf litter is the colt's foot {see link} which displays dandelion  like flowers on leafless stems adorned with purplish coloured bracts that spiral the stem. There will be no sign of the foliage at this stage for they only appear when the flowers have faded. 

The red campion also flowers in spring although usually later than the coltsfoot.  The flowers of this common  plant are pinkish red brightening the hedgerows and woodland margins.

Red campion brightens the hedgerows and woodland margins.  photo-Dal

As we continue our journey down this leafy lane we come upon a dell on the right hand side dividing the lane from the golf course. The dell falls away from the lane to create a hollow basin where water tends to collect. Little rivulets of water run from the drainage of the lane and the golf course and creates an ideal situation for one of the most poisonous plants in Britain to thrive.  The Hemlock Water Dropwort is a common species that collectors of herbs will do well to recognize for collecting this plant, a member of the Parsley family, in mistake for one of its harmless relatives can lead to a fatality. {see hogweed and wild herb advise}.

The plant has celery like stems and foliage  and it is these futures that has led to the confusion. It is a plant that foragers need to avoid.

In this dell there are standing dead trees which play host to nesting Greater woodpeckers each season a new hole is created by the birds usually just below the one of the previous year. The lane in general and the dell in particular is a magnet to small birds. Also tenanting the dell are plants such as Garlic mustard.

On the opposite side of the lane to the dell we now meet with a ditch which dissects the lane and the woodland that is located on top of an old banking.  One of the plants that tenant this banking is the wonderful little wood sorrel a common plant with clover like leaves.Another species is the lesser celandine which grows in profusion during early spring  but has completely disappeared by the time June comes along.---Photo-Dal 

 

 Photograph above.Hemlock water dropwort has celery like stems but must be avoided. Below woodpecker holes in a standing dead tree.

Photo-Dal

ON TO THE MEADOWS

It is not long before we come across one of the many sign posts that are placed in strategic places around the park that inform visitors of  various locations around the locality. This one points to the left and takes us on to the first, of the many meadows,

it is possible to encounter.  Most of the meadows pass through small woodlands or are aproned by them. The flora that may be encountered in these many grasslands are almost to numerous to list but below is a fairly comprehensive list  of the commoner species.

ANGELICA,HOGWEED,COW PARSLEY , GREATER WILLOWHERB, ROSEBAY WILLOWHERB, SELFHEAL,RED CLOVER,WHITE CLOVER, ZIGZAG CLOVER, RIBWORT PLANTAIN, GREATER PLANTAIN,DOG DAISY, RAGWORT, KNAPWEED, PINEAPPLE WEED,HORSETAIL CORN MINT,ORCHIDS,YELLOW RATTLE, LESSER TREFOIL, SILVER WEED. MEADOW BUTTERCUP,BIRD'S FOOT TREFOIL, BETONY, FIELD SCABIOUS, GREATER STITCHWORT, LESSER STITCHWORT, HEMP NETTLE, ORCHIDS, BRACKEN,CAT'SEAR, VETCHES AND HAWK WEEDS

 Photo --Dal Top Orchids. Below Buttercups and vetches.

Meadows.

The meadows in this day and age are a relatively rare habitat due to loss, fragmentation and changes in land use. Thus, they are of vital importance not only for the wild flowers they produce but also the insects attracted to them, which in turn attract the birds. Many species of butterfly visit the meadows these include, meadow brown,gatekeeper,common blue,peacock, skipper and small copper.The day flying cinnabar moth is often seen on ragwort the food plant of their caterpillars.

All the common birds are joined in the summer months by the chiffchaff, willow warblers, swallow and swift. Nocturnal members of the bird fraternity include the tawny owl and the much scarcer barn owl which share the air space with several species of bat.

The park boasts a nature trail which meanders through woodland and an heritage trail. details of both can be obtained from the rangers. Another important habitat which in common with the wild flower meadows have diminished greatly,are ponds, the park has several dotted around the location. Ponds not only benefit aquatic creatures but also amphibians such as the frog,toad and newt.             photo-Dal

Photograph--ponds are vital for wildlife.

Many events are held at the park throughout the year including the annual Green Fayre, held over two days. It is a popular event and well attended. Walks led by experts are common place and cover a wide variety of interest. there are facilities for those who have brought a packed lunch by way of picnic tables which are located in various places conveniently there are many by the children's play area.

For the naturalist or anyone who appreciates nature will benefit from visiting this pleasant location.

photographs-- Children enjoying the visitors to the Green fayre this barn owl is always a big attraction. Below the stand of the West Lancashire Countryside Rangers.

photos-Dal

Link to the West Lancashire countryside ranger service click on the link below .Once on home page click countryside rangers service

Thank you for visiting.