DALS WILDLIFE SITE { WILDLIFE OF NORTHERN ENGLAND}

WILDLIFE OF NORTHERN ENGLAND

Dean wood - West lancashire

This is number five in the series about the wild life sites under the care of the West Lancashire Countryside Rangers Service based at the Beacon Country Park at Upholland.

Related pages-ABBEY LAKES

HUNTERS HILL.

RUFF WOOD

Beacon Country Park  

A visit to the wood..

Dean wood is a semi ancient woodland that is under the care of the West Lancashire Countryside Rangers Service. Semi natural woodland is a specialized habitat that needs to be conserved and maintained if it is to remain viable.

The woodland consists of high bankings  on each side forming a valley at the bottom of which Dean Brook meanders from Upholland through to Gathurst where it meets with the river Douglas. I visit the location on a regular basis and as a nature enthusiasts I have never left this beautiful setting disappointed, so varied are the tenants and the changing seasons.

My latest visit was undertaken on a fine spring morning in April. Those who do appreciate nature's beauty cannot fail to enjoy this woodland on such a morning with the warm sunshine on ones back and the orchestration of new life is evident everywhere one chooses to look. This particular foray saw many "firsts" of the year finding their way into my notebook.

As I walked through the arable pastures on my way to the wood I recorded the first swallow of the new season flying low over the pasture displaying aerial skills I have missed since last September when these beautiful hirundines left our shores. " welcome back".

Which ever way you enter this leafy serenity a pathway takes you down towards the valley floor where the waters of the brook flows slowly on its journey towards Gathurst. The water on this fine morning twinkled in the sunlight as meandered from view.

BELOW---one of the many pathways that meet the stream below.

photos _Dal

woodland flora

The footpaths which follow the contour of the land are in places rugged and steep. When the footpath runs along side the brook the steep slopes that form the valley on either side are an impressive sight. Tree trunks rise up to meet the sky, yet, their lush canopy shades out the heat of the sun and allows but dappled light to reach the racy smell of the woodland floor.

By the side of the brook species such as wood anemone, lesser celandine, opposite leaved golden saxifrage and ramsons {wild garlic} carpet the brook's banks and encroach upon the woodland floor enhancing the beauty of this locality.

Below--top, wild garlic, bluebells and opposite leaved golden saxifrage  carpet the locality in spring.

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Bird song----

The drumming of an unseen woodpecker reverberated around the woodland and a torrent of a million notes from feathered throats cascaded down from the tree tops. Among this intermingling of song I could pick out the blackbird, robin, greenfinch, chaffinch, blue tit great tit, and the scolding trill of the wren.

Another first for my note 2011 note book was the monotonous two syllable call of the chiffchaff who's common name derives from the combined sound of the two syllables of its name. This tiny leaf warbler is another welcome companion which enhances my spring forays into the woodlands of northern England. The attractive and similar looking willow warbler will soon follow in its wake.

I lingered a while---

As I looked up into the tree tops many where in full leaf while others notably the oak and ash were still in bud slower to respond to the call of spring. Some of the fine, old, gnarled oaks have a character that can only be associated with the genus Quercer. They have an air of permanence. Many of them are hundreds of years old while others will still flourish hundreds of years after my generation has been confined to the history of life.

I lingered a while with my back against one of these fine oaks and took in the ambience of the location. The sloping banks were filled with bluebell foliage, rose up to meet the rugged rocks that formed the summit. Yet this ruggedness did not detract from the gentle beauty of the slopes or the valley floor. A fallen beech, probably a victim of winters damaging winds had fallen across the brook forming a natural bridge, which creatures could take advantage of to convey themselves across the brook, keeping perfectly dry.

I witnessed a grey squirrel utilising the trunk in such a manner. Half way across he sat on his haunches, unperturbed by my presence some 10 metres away. He continued his crossing at his leisure before scampering up a tree trunk of a standing beech on the opposite bank. The agility of this woodland tenant never cease to amaze me.

Grey squirrels do not hibernate and are active even in the winter months as this photograph below demonstrates.

The grey squirrel, in a winter tree top.

Tree creeper and foot-bridges

Not long after my encounter with the squirrel my attention was drawn to a movement at the base of a nearby tree. It was a tree creeper, at first glance a small brown bird yet its under parts are snow white. This creature displays an agility of its own. Its sharp claws gripped the fissured bark as it spiraled up the trunk, seeking out invertebrates  or their eggs in the deep fissures.

The white under parts are pressed close to the tree trunk leaving the brown upper parts acting as sufficient camouflage. Once the bird has reached the top of the tree it then flew down to the base of another trunk and the process begins over again. The down curved beak of this species make it quite easy to identify.

Moving on along the footpath  which turn this way and that up and down slopes following the course of the brook, I came across a series of foot bridges  constructed  by the Rangers and their team, which allows one to cross from one side of the brook to another at various points. The logistics involved in conveying the building and path maintenance material to this location is a task in its self as vehicle access is impossible.

Below Footpaths and foot bridges are many and varied

wherever you wander or linger-----

Wherever you wander or linger in this fascinating location there is something to warrant the attention of the nature lover. For those that adore woodland and its tenants I strongly recommend a visit to this location

Footnote-----Because of its situation and its environs some areas of some footpaths become muddy after rain and especially so after prolonged wet weather, so suitable foot ware should be worn. For other sites under the care of the West Lancashire Countryside Rangers Service see associated pages listed above.

Since 2014-2015 a great deal of work has been carried out in order to improve the pathways which will help visitors to enjoy the site even more. other work including biodiversity work has been carried out also,this projects are on going. 

Pages associated with the fauna and flora of this page see--

LESSER CELANDINE.

WOOD ANEMONES

RECOGNIZING WINTER TREES.

TREE BLOSSOMS

RED AND GREY SQUIRRELS

THE MIGHTY OAK TREES--

 

 

The photographs on this page  are by Dal


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