Wednesday, 18 April 2012


There was a report of a male Pied Flycatcher being seen in the bushes on the Cottam side of the canal, opposite to the sports centre - 
at around 7.30pm on Tuesday 17th April.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012


The pair of Coot that nested on the pond opposite the junior school have
three new arrivals from the clutch of 8 eggs.

One of the young being enticed from the nest to feed.

It's said that the white frontal plate on the adult's head is the reason for the phrase 'bald as a coot.'
Looking at the youngster, I'm not convinced it's the only reason.

A pleasant family photograph
and finally
three photographs to reflect on -

PS. Can somebody please explain to me what this is all about? It's close to the pond
in the previous photograph, off Greenside.
Posted by: Steve Halliwell

Sunday, 15 April 2012


At 10.55am Monday 16th April, 2012, there were

FIVE Common Buzzards circling over
the ANCIENT OAK at Cottam.
One of them was diving with closed wings
as part of a display ritual, while another two
were talon grasping, spinning and falling
from a great height, until separating and
drifting off. 
Who says nothing happens in Cottam!

Thursday, 29 March 2012

First, Early Spring Visit to Some of our Ponds.

I had a look round some of the ponds today. It was a bit cooler than
the last few days have been, but very pleasant nevertheless
The bridle-path off Valentines Lane is
beginning to green up.
Several of the ponds have their resident Waterhens present,
like this one east of Valentine's Lane, near the canal.

The flowers on the Ash trees are in abundance this year, but not on every tree.
Once the leaves start to appear I'll be paying particular attention -
"ASH before OAK, we're in for a soak,
OAK before ASH, nowt but a splash"

The newly created pond just east of Valentine's Lane is still surrounded by
bare soil. I do hope that in addition to the grass seed that's been put down,
there will be plenty of wildflower meadow seeds among it.

Marsh Marigolds always create a splash of early spring colour.

 A smaller group of marigold flowers.
The Marsh Marigold is also known as KING CUP.
Here's a single flower head.

 The Reedmace is now going to seed, and the fluffy seeds can
be seen all over the grass downwind from where they commenced.
You can almost see the seeds struggling to escape.

Some little boy isn't going to be Mr. Happy at the moment!
If anyone reading knows who's it is, it was hanging on the railing in
Greenside, not far from the big pond by the roundabout.

Men's afternoon off!

A pair of Coot are nesting on the Haydock Lane pond.
They're awfully close to the viewing platform, so approach it with care.
It is part of a local study being conducted by a group of local bird-ringers,
who are carrying out an in-depth study of the species.
Posted by: Steve Halliwell

Saturday, 24 March 2012

BACK IN THE FIELD: Saturday 24th March

The project that brought a temporary halt to my efforts on this
site is now under control, (See Post titled 'A Diversification !)
Today I managed to get out and see how spring is progressing,
on the day the clocks go forward; and what a fantastic day it was.
I had a walk around the perimeter of Maxy House Farm, and 
found it to be particularly quiet as far as bird life is concerned.
I was hoping that the Lapwings may have returned, but unlike
the ones down at Brockholes Wetland, where I saw them back on
territory yesterday, there was no sign of them.
A Common Buzzard was over the farm fields being harried
by a lone Carrion Crow, while several Rooks were feeding in 
 neighbouring fields, which are still very soft, and just the way
they like them!
In fact there were more butterflies than birds today - bit of an
exaggeration, but it seemed that way.
A few Peacock butterflies (above) were seen today,
but only one Small Tortoiseshell (below)
Niether photo was taken today.
Lesser Celandines can be quite spectacular, particularly when 
they are massed in woodland, or as they were today, on the
banks of several of the ditches.
Flowers don't come much whiter than those of the Blackthorn, 
and there were many, just cominginto bloom in some of the 
hedges on the farm. They really make it feel like spring is here.
I'll get round the Cottam ponds in a day or two, and track
 their progress throughout the spring and summer.
Posted by: Steve Halliwell

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

A diversification !

For several years I've been researching
all the inns, taverns and beer-houses
that have existed in Preston in the 17th,
18th and 19th Century.
I've encountered about 800 of them !!!!
The site is aimed at 
1. local historians

2. Family Historians

3. Those who want to reminisce
4. Those who'd like to know what they've missed!
They've all been loaded now, and
readers are sending further, new
information about them to me.

The volume has exceeded all my
expectations, and the site will 
benefit because of it.

Do you have forebearers in
the licensed trade?


Tuesday, 31 January 2012


A Kingfisher was seen today (31st January) at the Valentine's Bridge over the canal. Please report all sightings.

Goosanders have also been seen on the canal link on the Preston side of Lea Road.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012


If you approach the Haslam Park Local Nature Reserve from the canal, it is very definitely a close neighbour of the Cottam area. Join the canal at Valentine's Lane bridge, close to the Sports Centre, and walk towards Preston. As can be seen from the map below, the reserve and park can be accessed from a number of points on the tow path. Feel free to send your sightings of any wildlife to me, at 
11. Savick Brook
12. Sharoe Brook
31. Lancaster Canal
32. Open Fields
33. New Hedge
34. Community Orchard
35. Wetland
36. Beech sculpture

Posted by: Steve Halliwell

Saturday, 14 January 2012


In readiness for spring when bats begin to emerge from their hibernation, it may be good to learn a little about these fascinating mammals. 
This one demonstrates the innate behaviour of bats in locating water.
(Double-click the arrow, then enlarge the screen)
Although this is not about British bats, the ecology is the same. It certainly gives a good deal of background knowledge for somebody who knows nothing or not a lot about these fantastic mammals.
By the way, for those of you who think that bats are 'flying mice', I've got some news for you. They're more closely related to humans!!!
Posted by: Steve Halliwell

Friday, 13 January 2012


The fruiting heads of moss can make a very pleasing picture.
It was a cold but beautiful day today, so I had a walk over to Maxy House Farm on Sandy Lane. The land is still very wet with lots of it flooded. It was quite spring-like, and I've heard a couple of stories in the last two days of Blue Tits inspecting and entering nest-boxes. The weather is really confusing the wildlife. I've seen Snowdrops in full bloom, and even heard of Daffodils flowering.
There weren't any exceptional birds around today, but quite a few of the commoner things you'd expect. I was very pleased with the number of House Sparrows at Maxy House Farm, occupying the hedge of the field that is probably going to be developed with the new estate shortly. I counted 26 of them, but I'm sure that there were more skulking lower down in the thick hedge. Below is a record shot of a few of the sparrows.
I then had a walk behind the Ancient Oak pub, where a man was telling me that the large Oak tree that's on the path close to the site of Cottam Hall, and now fenced off, is THE ancient oak after which the pub gets its name. Apparently the tree once had a sign close to it, telling people of the fact, but it's disappeared. It was fenced off after somebody deemed it a good idea to try to set fire to it. Half-wits!!
THE Ancient Oak. Like most things that are getting old, it's undergone a bit of surgery over the years, but it's still looking fit for its age.
I reckon that the trunk, just below the swollen part, is about 5.5 feet, or 66 inches in diameter. That would give it a circumference of around 210 inches. At half and inch per year (a good guide figure), it would mean that the tree is between 400 and 500 years old. It is, indeed, ancient.
Posted by: Steve Halliwell

Wednesday, 11 January 2012


Local Weather - and you can't get much more local than Swillbrook!!
This Weather Widget is provided by the Met Office

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Cottam Hall Brick Works


On Tuesday 10th January at Cottam Hall Brick Works site, there were 3 Jays and a Woodcock seen.  Les Ward
Jay - can be active and noisy at this time of year.
Woodcock - can be difficult to see in the breeding season, as you can imagine from the camouflage, and at most times of the year they only take to the wing when you're about to tread on them!!
Watch the Woodcock's 'roding' display flight - at dusk.
A "once in every Preston Guild" moment for a lucky Norfolk couple.
Posted by: Steve Halliwell

Monday, 9 January 2012

Cormorant over Cottam

At 1.15pm today, 9th January, a Cormorant flew in a northerly direction over Cottam Primary School. Quite a common bird on the Ribble, and occasional on the canal, it won't be everyday that we see one in Cottam.
Posted by: Steve Halliwell

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Looking towards all our futures.

I'll re-publish this posting in the hope I attract a new visitor who missed it last month.
I will open by saying that I am looking for two categories  of people:

1. Those who would like to get involved with establishing what wildlife exists already in Cottam and the immediate area, and perhaps recording it on this blog. Send details to

2. Those who would like to get involved with general conservation issues. It may well be that any interest in either will come from the same individuals. That's O.K.!  Contact me by email - see above.

Think about the following:

Would you like to be involved, as part of the community, to be involved with protecting and enhancing local wildlife?

Would you like to help organise activities that involve local people, and help them to enjoy their community green spaces?

Would you like to help to raise awareness of local wildlife issues?

Then write to me at

Saturday, 7 January 2012

SPARROWHAWK'S territorial display

Saturday 7th January - Minster Park, Cottam.  At 8.50am today two Sparrowhawks, both similarly sized and believed to be males, were 'jousting' above our house. They were certainly challenging each other until they parted and flew away in separate directions.
A smart male Sparrowhawk on a kill.
If you double-click on this image you'll be able to enlarge the screen
The Sparrowhawk is reasonably common around Cottam - keep you eyes peeled.
Note that the female is larger by about a third than the male in this clip, and much browner in colour.
Posted by: Steve Halliwell

Friday, 6 January 2012


Let's look at some of the fungi that I've found in the last few weeks - I'm sure you'll agree that they look very Autumn-y. It doesn't matter what species they are - just enjoy them for what they are.
I have updated and republished this page.
Side view of fungi growing on a dead 'Yucca'
And a view of the gills of the same plant.
This one is OYSTER MUSHROOM, but unfortunately Yucca's contain a toxin that can be absorbed by the fungus, turning a normally edible species into one to be avoided!
STAND WELL BACK !  - these are growing on cow-dung

Posted by: Steve Halliwell