Bickershaw Revisited

A third consecutive morning out enjoying our local countryside? Well, it's a quiet week - why not?

A 7.30am start at Bickershaw Country Park was nevessary because of predicted afternoon temps of 32 degrees. We planned a wander from Edna Road car park, past Fir Tree Flash and the grazed fields, crossing the 'Road to Nowhere', round the lovely southern path at Diggle Flash, then down the "Concrete Road" and along the southern leg of the "Northern Footpath" and back to Fir Tree. (If all that's a mystery to you, and you live in the area, it may be time you and Bickershaw CP got acquainted!)

Jean was after Helleborines, and I was anticipating another biodiversity bonanza - we were not disappointed! As to the birds, we started with a flypast by a big charm of Goldfinches, rising from the thistles in the field next to the lake.

Next up were small family parties of Whitethroat and Willow Warbler, hard to see in the scrub. The plaintive piping of Bullfinches betrayed their unseen presence. At the new slow-flow water course, there was another group of juvenile birds, perhaps grouped together for security - or just adolescents hanging out together!

They included, at least Whitethroat, Willow Warbler and Blue Tits, and scattered off through the bushes as we watched. Diggle Flash was noisy with Herring and Lesser Black Backed Gulls, and a Common Tern called, but must have been seen off before we got there.

The wild flowers were truly wild - a riot of botanical bliss, inhabited by numerous butterflies, damsels and dragons, and assorted beetle-like beasties. As ever at Bickershaw, some of the "worst" soil areas produce some of the best plant shows.

Centaury is such a subtle little thing normally, but today was the star of the show in many places, understudied by Eyebright and the various mosses that retain moisture on those barren places.

And further on, in the dark wooded recesses, the Broad Leaved Helleborines were there and in flower. Our contortions to try to get pictures were worthy of some other botanical photographers we know, but owing to the Deep Darkness, didn't quite cut the mustard.

I was "made up" on the way round the new footpath, when I caught the reeling of a Grasshopper Warbler - we didn't see him, but you can't take your hearing for granted nowadays! As the day heated up, we made a beeline for Fir Tree and the car, and had a pleasant chat with Hamish before we departed.

Now: was that a Marbled White Butterfly that flew past while we talked? Just a fleeting glimpse, and no photo .... not a certain ID for sure, but I hope so.
Dr. Paul Richardson
L.O.S. Conservation Officer

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