DALS WILDLIFE SITE { WILDLIFE OF NORTHERN ENGLAND}

WILDLIFE OF NORTHERN ENGLAND

NOTES FROM A LANCASHIRE COUNTRYMAN ----PART ONE A SUMMER'S STROLL

My stroll commenced by walking up a shady cart track which would lead me to a large expanse of rich arable land which was to be my destination. This shady cart  track flanked by high banks that are tenanted by hedgerows were basking in their rich lush summer growth. An old hawthorn gnarled and twisted by the unremitting winter winds that howl around this locality has now given up its flowers and the fruits that contain the seeds are developing well

ABOVE THE SHADY TRACK-below rose bay willowherb flower bottom-honeysuckle flowers

Flowers of mid summer now adorn the hedges and during the evening none is more fragrant than the honeysuckle that fills the Lancashire air with a sweet scent, that attracts the nocturnal flying, long tongued moths, that they rely on for pollination. The scent being so strong as to reach the nostrils of humans,allowing this pleasurable  experience that many plants reserve for those of insect land.

Rosebay willowherb ,that controversial species,  spreads across the landscape like a pink fire, is just coming into flower. Closer observation of the flower will reveal that two petals are larger than the other two and that the deep purple sepals are conspicuous in between them,enhancing their beauty. The spikes of flowers that terminate the stem are both beautiful and impressive when they occur in large numbers.In some Mediterranean countries they are known by the more apt name of Mountain joy. The foliage of this plant is utilised as a tea which is said to have a calming affect. I often nibble on these leaves while out and about in the countryside especially if the weather is hot I find them refreshing.

I noted too, that the anfractuous stems of the hedge bindweed were winding their way up the stems of taller herbage in their ceaseless search for light.The large white trumpet flowers they produce will appear during July and August. I also came upon the yellow pea-like flowers of the meadow vetchling among the vegetation their grass like foliage blending in so well. Tufted vetch sprawled among taller grasses sporting a plethora of blue flowers. 

ABOVE THE BLUE FLOWERS OF THE TUFTED VETCH.

The pathway left the shady track in its wake and met with an open panoramic view of this farmland locality, here in the field margin I happened upon  the yellow loosestrife, its yellow star like petals looked impressive in this large stand. Sharp taloned brambles close by arched and uninviting, stood like a sentinel guarding the ditch where spring violets raised their flowers from their winter slumber.

As I continued on this pleasurable ramble other summer favourites were located in the marginal grassland. The cinquefoils' yellow  buttercup-like flowers peeped out of their haven to greet the sun. Cinquefoil means five leaves (leaflets). The bracken stood shoulder high along the ditch were I encountered a well worn pathway, the bracken beaten back by a badgers nightly wanderings. It did not take me long to locate its sett the front door being conspicuous and wide open. I found more evidence of the Brocks' activity in the form of old discarded bracken fronds which he had utilised for his bedding. Just like his human counterparts he changes his bedding regularly to keep his sanctuary clean.

At this time of the year those that are afflicted by hay fever suffer greatly as the grass pollen is prevalent in the air. It is my good fortune that I have never suffered this debilitating affliction, or my pleasure of being in England's green and pleasant land would be greatly diminished. I often wonder is this because I spend so much time in the countryside, as opposed to cities and towns, that I have been spared?.

Several kinds of corn come into "ear" at this time of the year along with the grasses. I think that it is accurate to state that the cultivated corn is but a larger relative of the lowly grasses. It is typical of all grasses and their cultivated relatives to have long  slender foliage, jointed stalks and flowering heads in the form of close spikes, such as wheat or in loose panicles {clusters} such as oats. The flower head is composed of husks that each contain a single seed.

The cultivated sorts whose husks are deemed worthy of separation are collectively known as corn. This forms the mainstay of the diet of many countries. Animals also rely on their lowly relatives for food, sheep and domestic cattle are good examples and many members of the wild animal fraternity rely on it for food, typical of these is the rabbit and the water vole, while the field vole makes its living among the taller varieties.

all these subjects I encountered gave me great pleasure and peace of mind. The cost of this day out? a packed lunch and a flask of tea and not a cent more. 

PHOTOGRAPHS BELOW CORN AND GRASSES.

Photographs by Dal