Tuesday, 31 January 2012

KINGFISHER on CANAL

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

HASLAM PARK LOCAL NATURE RESERVE

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 prestonbirder@aol.com 
Key:  
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

LEARN ABOUT BATS

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)
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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.
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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!!!
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Posted by: Steve Halliwell

Friday, 13 January 2012

BEAUTIFUL BUT COLD 13-1-2012

The fruiting heads of moss can make a very pleasing picture.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Posted by: Steve Halliwell

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

MET OFFICE WEATHER FORECAST


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

I HAVE LEARNED TODAY (22ND JANUARY) THAT THE COTTAM HALL BRICKWORKS SITE WILL BE CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC FROM NOW UNTIL SPRING 2014 - TESCO'S DEVELOPMENT.


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!!
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Watch the Woodcock's 'roding' display flight - at dusk.
A "once in every Preston Guild" moment for a lucky Norfolk couple.
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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.
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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 prestonbirder@aol.com

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 prestonbirder@aol.com


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.
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Posted by: Steve Halliwell

Friday, 6 January 2012

FUNGI APLENTY! NEW ONES APPEARING.

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.
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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!
I WOULD SUGGEST THAT THE BEST MAXIM IS............. 'ALL FUNGI ARE EDIBLE - SOME OF THEM ONLY ONCE!!!!!'
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STAND WELL BACK !  - these are growing on cow-dung
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Posted by: Steve Halliwell

What a Network of Ponds!

During the next week or three, I'm going to take you for a walk around many of the ponds in the Cottam (residential) area. Some you'll know, and some, maybe you won't. As spring progresses we'll witness the differences that take place, with particular emphasis on the new pond near Valentine's Canal Bridge, as nature gets to work.
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Merrytrees/Greenmead           Photo: Steve Halliwell
Popular with the Mallard, and not as prone to litter as its neighbour on ther other side of Cottam Green.
In the past, the following two species of duck have been sighted on this pond -
The Tufted Duck -
the female is more drab in colour, and doesn't have as noticeable a 'tuft'.
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The Mandarin Duck. A pair have been recorded here.
Again, the female is far more modestly coloured, but this male is a real stunner.
Look out for the next one to visit.
In fact, if anyone sees anything other than Mr. or Mrs. Mallard, I'd be interested to hear.
Write to me at prestonbirder@aol.com
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Bideford Pond - A popular fishing pond, and haunt of dragonflies.  Photo: Steve Halliwell
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Bideford Pond -  A lovely corner of the pond.
Photo: Steve Halliwell
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Tag Croft Ponds - Just the breadth of Tom Benson Way away from Cottam.
Could definitely benefit from some T.L.C.
Photo: Steve Halliwell
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Fishing Pond - Close to the recycling depot.
Believed to hold some big Carp.
Photo: Steve Halliwell
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Pond (next to the one above) - Seems to be a promising wildlife pond.
Photo: Steve Halliwell
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Valentine's East No.1 - The expense of installing these walk-ways must have had a reason behind it. Anyone got any idea what it was?  Let me know.
Photo: Steve Halliwell
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Valentine's East No. 2 - even closer to the canal with a nice stream flowing into it in two places.
Photo: Steve Halliwell

                                                    Valentine's Bridge Pond -
As you approach the canal bridge along Valentine's Lane,
take the turning on the right just before the bridge, and you'll see this NEW pond on
your right-hand side. At present it's like a blank canvass, but watch how soon nature
takes over. I'll follow its progress and keep you posted. Better still, go and have a look
for yourself.
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Same pond, just a slightly different view.         Both photos: Steve Halliwell
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follow the course of the canal towards Tewitfield (away from Preston), and the next pond along is this one:-
Dunnock Pond -  A little too much Reed Mace for my liking.
Photo:  Steve Halliwell
Far Dunnock - This is as far as you can walk on the northern bank of the canal.
Photo: Steve Halliwell
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Just to the west of the Haydock Lane island, on Cottam Way - I have called this pond -
'South-west One'.   Here we are looking back across Cottam Way towards the houses.
Photo: Steve Halliwell
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On the other side of the boardwalk from South-west One, and actually a part of the pond, is this
partially dried out part that has become extremely vegetated. It must be full of little, interesting
beasties!
Photo: Steve Halliwell
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Fiddler's Fold or Memorial Ponds - Close to the entrance to Cottam Way from Lea Road.
Photo: Steve Halliwell
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Another portion of Fiddler's Fold Pond.
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Greenside Pond (near to the playground) - and the linear stretches of water closer to Greenside.
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The Weald Pond - see below photograph, also.
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The Weald Pond and decking observation area. Pity about all the mud as you leave the path in
The Weald. Don't go without your wellies!
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Photo: Steve Halliwell
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More to follow!
Posted by: Steve Halliwell