Thursday 25th December 2014 - Sale Water Park

A short trip to Sale Water Park before Christmas dinner. A kingfisher flashed past the hide at Broad Ees Dole, and a snipe appeared briefly just in front of the hide. 5 herons, some mallard, teal, shoveller, moorhen and a pied wagtail were out on the water and islands.
Cathy and Mike Pettipher

Tuesday 23rd December 2014 - Pickerings Pasture

The 'scrape' and Hale Marsh at very high tide
A high tide of 9.7m was predicted. With a westerly wind as well, we thought it might be more impressive than usual. While the river raced in about 2 hours before high tide, it did not produce a bore - apparently this does happen occasionally on the Mersey.

However the scrape and Hale Marsh were engulfed at high tide.

Sunday 21st December 2014 - Pennington Flash

Privet (Ligustrum spp) berries
Privet is very common in hedges, but we do not recall seeing privet berries before. I guess most hedges are usually cut frequently, so have little opportunity to flower, and even less chance of fruiting. However by the main car park was a section of privet hedge which must have avoided any attempts this year to restrain its growth,as it was covered in black berries.
The strong wind seemed to have discouraged most birds from the spit area near Horrocks hide. There were a few brave cormorants and wood pigeons. Mallard, coot and moorhen found some of the more sheltered parts of the flash. On the other pools were 4 herons, goosander and gadwall.
Cathy and Mike Pettipher

Wednesday 12th December 2014 - Pickerings Pasture

A short visit to Pickerings Pasture provided dramatic lighting towards the Silver Jubilee Bridge and Fiddlers Ferry power station.

Silver Jubilee Bridge, Runcorn
 
The Mersey near Fiddlers Ferry
 Power Station

A kingfisher was seen at the scrape. As high tide approached, vast flocks of waders repeatedly landed and took flight on the edge of Hale Marsh. Another visitor at the scrape indicated he had previously seen large numbers of sanderlings behaving in exactly this way.

Cathy and Mike Pettipher

Wednesday 3rd December 2014 - Dee Estuary


Little egret , buzzard (observed at close quarters on tree branch) and marsh harrier. Flock of sheep being herded by shepherd and dogs between the reed beds. 

Barry Hurd

Thursday 20th November 2014 - Sale Golf Club


A plague of harlequin ladybirds covered clothes and hair  of several people. 

A carrion crow played with my golf ball and then flew off with it in its beak!

Pat Hill

Thursday 20th November 2014 - Sale Garden

Jays seen in the garden.

Pam and Phil Grundy

Sunday 16th November 2014 - Leighton Moss

Specialities seen included an otter, a great-white egret, 2 little egrets and 2 kingfishers.

Michael Laurent

Monday 3rd November 2014 - Davyhulme Millenium Nature Reserve

Spindle tree (Euonymus europaeus) fruit.
This almost hidden reserve next to the Manchester Ship Canal is popular with local dog walkers, but worth a visit to see what you can find. We found these spindle trees with their brilliant pink fruit capsules, enclosing bright orange seeds. We had not seen them before.
Spindle tree (Euonymus europaeus) fruit.
Shaggy Inkcap (Coprinus comatus)
There were also some wonderful specimens of shaggy inkcap fungus.
Cathy and Mike Pettipher

Saturday 1st November 2014 - Sale Moor

Mistletoe (Viscum album)
Mistletoe (Viscum album)
Mistletoe was seen growing wild in a hawthorn tree in the centre of Sale Moor. We believe this is the first recorded sighting in this area.

Britain is the northern edge of  the distribution in Europe and within Britain, Mistletoe is found mostly in the south, particularly in Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire, in the lowlands around the river Severn and its major tributaries. However recent evidence suggests its distribution may be spreading further east and north, perhaps in conjunction with climate change factors.

Mistletoe (Viscum album)
Mistletoe (Viscum album)
The distinctive white berries are distributed only by a few bird species, particularly the mistle thrush, which usually swallows the berries and excretes the seeds still in sticky slime that will stick on to twigs and braches. The blackcap is another mistletoe specialist, but they swallow on;y the berry skin and pulp, wiping every seed off their beaks individually, potentially directly on to a host tree. The number of overwintering blackcaps has increased in recent years in southern Britain, perhaps from climate change and this may well have resulted in an increased distribution.

For further information about mistletoe, see the very informative web site run by Jonathan Briggs: http://mistletoe.org.uk/
Maurice Lees

October 2014 - Sale Garden

Red admiral butterflies, male and female bullfinches and a nuthatch.

Pam and Phil Grundy

Tuesday 19th August 2014 - Dunham Park

15 of us met at the Swan With Two Nicks for our last evening walk on the season. It was a pleasant, sunny evening, but became quite chilly as the sun disappeared.

The first area of interest was the wet area to the left of the path en route to the park entrance. A Green Sandpiper was seen as expected and hoped for, along with a Heron. Walking around the woodland, we heard a Green Woodpecker, saw many Jackdaw sand John fleetingly glimpsed a Kingfisher. The slightly unusual flora of one of the pools included Skullcap and large areas of Sweet Flag, along with expanses of Great Reedmace, and Water Mint. Lemon-scented Fern was found near another pool. Quite a few clusters of Chicken of the Woods were seen, particularly on Oak trees:

Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus)
Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus)
Other birds on the pools included Mallard, Tufted Duck, Little Grebe, Coot and Moorhen. A family of Mute Swans seemed at home in the water near the stables. Numerous Fallow Deer and Rabbits and molehills, and a couple of Grey Squirrels were seen around the park, with some deer moving towards the buildings as darkness fell and people disappeared.

One of the main objectives of the evening required waiting at least until dusk, as many of the bats around the stables and other buildings came out to feed. Jacky had brought her bat detector, as had our guest - Tony Parker, the mammal recorder for Cheshire. Two detectors were useful in allowing different frequencies to be searched at the same time. Three species were confidently identified - the Common Pipistrelle (at 45Khz) and the Soprano Pipistrelle (at about 55Khz) - they sounded very similar, but were detected at the different frequencies. The Brown Long-eared Bat was seen and heard in one of the buildings. The frequency overlaps that of the Pipistrelles, but it sounds quite different. We hoped for Daubenton's (frequently seen feeding over the water) and Noctule Bats (which typically use a much lower frequency around 25Khz), but could not be certain of their presence.

Overall a very successful evening for our last walk of the season.

Friday 8th August 2014 - Bowdon

Roy Hilton found a Migrant Hawker dragonfly on vegetation near the pond in his garden. This species is expanding its range and has moved into Northern England over the past 15years. It flies during August & September.

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta)
Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta)
Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta)
Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta)
There are four blue/green hawker dragonflies that might be seen in our area: the Common Hawker (Aeshna juncea), the Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta), the Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea) and the Hairy Dragonfly (Aeshna caerulea). Two features which show up well in these photos distinguish this as a Migrant Hawker: on the second segment of the abdomen (which seems to be part of the thorax), there is a distinct 'T'  (or golf tee) shaped yellow/white mark; and the leading edge of the wings (the 'costa') is brown. The most similar of these four species is the Common Hawker, which lacks the 'T' and has a bright yellow costa. The Southern Hawker has very broad coloured stripes on the thorax, and bands of colour (blue/green) on the last two segments, rather than the two dots of Migrant and Common Hawkers. The Hairy Dragonfly has a yellow costa, small oval-shaped dots at top of each abdominal segment and the sides of the thorax are extensively green.
Roy Hilton

Tuesday 5th August 2014 - Lindow Common

Lindow Common is one of only a few small areas of lowland heath in Cheshire, and consequently an extremely rare and important habitat. It was designated an SSSI in 1963 and is also a Local Nature Reserve.

Common heather is widespread, but there also some much rarer species (for lowland Cheshire) hidden within this small site. These include bogbean, cross-leaved heath, bog asphodel, bog rosemary, cranberry and the carnivorous round-leaved sundew:

Bog Asphodel (Narthecium ossifragum)
Bog Asphodel (Narthecium ossifragum)
Round-Leaved Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia)
Round-Leaved Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia)
This unusual habitat also supports unusual wildlife - it is a breeding area for common lizards, and green tiger beetles can be seen in the sandier areas. There are many species of dragonflies and large numbers of frogs and toads breed in Black Lake, as do water voles. Presumably there is at least one badger as well given this footprint:

Badger (Meles meles) footprint
Badger (Meles meles) footprint
Flora noted on the walk: Hogweed, Holly, Marsh Thistle, Pineappleweed, Common Ragwort, Silver Birch, Round-leaved Sundew, Heather, Cross-leaved Heath, Broom, Meadow Vetchling, Greater Bird's-foot-trefoil, Gorse, Tufted Vetch, Pedunculate Oak, Herb-Robert, Yellow Iris, Bog Asphodel, Rosebay Willowherb, Great Willowherb, Greater Plantain, Cock's-foot, Common Reed, Meadowsweet, Silverweed, Tormentil, Bramble, Cleavers.

The oak trees showed abundant galls, including Oak Apple, Knopper and Common Spangle Gall.

There were a number of earthballs.

While Black Lake was difficult to see clearly in places because of the high vegetation, some of the common water birds were seen: Mallard, Coot, Moorhen, along with Wood Pigeon and House Martin.

For further information about Lindow Common, see: http://www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/leisure,_culture_and_tourism/ranger_service/countryside_sites/lindow_common_-_wilmslow.aspx.






Saturday 26th July 2014 - Hutton Roof Crags

A very warm day for our day excursion to Hutton Roof Crags, but fortunately not as hot as preceding days. Hutton Roof Crags is a hill in south-eastern Cumbria, with ancient ash-maple woodland on limestone. Of particular botanical interest are the areas of limestone pavement and limestone grassland. Despite the very busy M6 with many people heading for Blackpool and the Lake District, we saw only about 10 people on the 5 hour walk. (Admittedly the bracken could have hidden a few thousand, but if so they were very quiet!)

While it was too late in the year for some specialities, notably Fly Orchid, which we have seen previously at this site, and Herb Paris, which was still just recognisable in the woodland at  the start of the walk, there were still many unusual plants to be found. Two ferns were seen only in the grykes of the pavements: Limestone Oak Fern and Rigid Buckler Fern, while another small fern, Beech Fern, was found in abundance in the woodland  near the pavements.

Limestone Oak Fern
( Gymnocarpium robertianum)
Beech Fern (Phegopteris  connectilis)

Spot the naturalists in the bracken
Spot the naturalist!
In contrast to these delicate ferns, it did not require much effort to spot the bracken - it required more effort to spot the naturalists in the bracken!
Ferns noted were: Wall Rue, Maidenhair Spleenwort, Hart's-tongue, Limestone Oak Fern, Bracken, Polypody, Beech fern

Green Woodpecker and Blackcap were quite vocal, but the woodpecker also made itself visible a few times during the day. A wren was seen in the thicker vegetation, but overall not much birdlife was seen.

Dark Green Fritillary (Argynnis  aglaja)
 Butterflies which were particularly attracted by the Knapweed and Burdock included Large Skipper, Ringlet, Common Blue, Dark Green Fritillary, Green-veined White and Speckled Wood.


Dark Red Helleborine
(Epipactis atrorubens)
Dark Red Helleborine
(Epipactis atrorubens)
 

Dark Red Helleborine
(Epipactis atrorubens)
Of the flora seen, Dark Red Helleborine was the highlight - one of the specialities of the area. Only one specimen was still in full flower, which was appreciated by two wasps, but even the fruiting ones were still attractive.


Angular Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum odoratum)
Angular Solomon's Seal, another speciality of limestone pavements, was found near the summit of Burton Fell.
A more detailed list of lowering plants seen - Pignut, Hogweed, Sanicle, Upright Hedge-parsley, Angular Solomon's-seal, Yarrow, Lesser Burdock, Daisy, Common Knapweed, Marsh Thistle, Spear Thistle, Rough Hawkbit, Wall Lettuce, Groundsel, Harebell, Honeysuckle, Lesser Stitchwort, Common Rock-rose, Rigid Buckler-fern, Heather, Meadow Vetchling, Common Bird's-foot-trefoil, Greater Bird's-foot-trefoil, Red Clover, White Clover, Meadow Crane's-bill, Heath Wood-rush, Betony, Hedge Woundwort, Wood Sage, Thymus polytrichus, Ramsons, Fairy Flax, Enchanter's-nightshade, Dark-red Helleborine, Eyebright, Ribwort Plantain, Greater Plantain, Common Sorrel, Meadow Buttercup, Lesser Meadow Rue, Lady's-Mantle, Meadowsweet, Wood Avens, Silverweed, Tormentil, Heath bedstraw, Lady's Bedstraw and Herb-paris.

With many grasses -  Common Bent, Sweet Vernal-grass, False Oat-grass, False-brome, Quaking-grass, Crested Dog's-tail, Cock's-foot, Tufted Hair-Grass, Giant Fescue, Meadow Oat-grass, Yorkshire-fog, Perennial Rye-grass, Wood Melick, Mat-grass, Blue Moor-grass. (Thanks to Liz Blackman for identifications.)

Burton Fell
Burton Fell
Burton Fell
Burton Fell
With thick and deep vegetation on the hillsides, it is a pleasant surprise to reach the open pavement area on the summit plateau, with (hazy) views across to Morcambe Bay, the Lake District and Howgill fells. It was a delightful place to visit.

Thursday 24th July 2014 - Wigg Island and Moore Nature Reserve


There is always plenty to see in this area so a few hours allows only a quick snapshot. I had forgotten about the new bridge to be built near the existing Runcorn bridge, so was surprised to see two very large cranes on the Wigg Island site.
Runcorn bridges
Runcorn bridges
This will be a major construction, and will cause significant disruption at the site. Hopefully however once completed, all that will remain on the site will be the bridge supports, allowing flora and wildlife to return. In fact the Mersey Gateway Project (see: http://www.merseygateway.co.uk/about-the-mersey-gateway-project/the-mersey-gateway-project-and-the-environment/) has created the Mersey Gateway Environmental Trust which aims to promote the conservation, protection and improvement of the environment - there do seem to be interesting environmental projects.


Common Fleabane was noticeable near the car park, Lucerne near the disused canal,

Common Fleabane ( Pulicaria dysenterica)
 Common Fleabane ( Pulicaria dysenterica)
Lucerne (Medicago sativa)
Lucerne (Medicago sativa)
and Guelder Rose was fruiting.
Guelder Rose (Viburnum opulus)
Guelder Rose (Viburnum opulus)

One plant which provided a little confusion is the 'rush' growing in the disused canal.  A conspicuous feature of this plant is the size of the circular stems - about 2m tall and about 3cm in diameter at the base. On searching the rush family (Juncaceae), I could find nothing with this thickness of stem. Eventually I realised is is Common Club-rush, which is sometimes referred to as Bulrush, but this is not a rush - it is a sedge in family Cyperaceae. Incidently, the name Bulrush is also sometimes used for Great Reedmace (Typha latifolia), which is neither a rush nor a sedge, but in its own family - Typhaceae. (I have not even mentioned Spike-rushes which are sedges, and Wood-rushes which are rushes!)

Common Fleabane ( Pulicaria dysenterica)
Common Club-rush (Scirpus lacustris)
Common Club-rush (Scirpus lacustris)
Common Club-rush (Scirpus lacustris)
Flowering plants noted were: Guelder-rose,Upright Hedge-parsley, Common Knapweed, Woolly Thistle, Marsh Thistle, Spear Thistle, Common Fleabane, Common Ragwort, Perennial Sow-thistle, Scentless Mayweed, Red Campion, Hedge Bindweed, Common Club-rush, Wild Teasel, Meadow Vetchling, Greater Bird's-foot-trefoil, Lucerne, Melilotus, White Clover, Tufted Vetch, Common Centaury, Mint, Selfheal, Marsh Woundwort, Hedge Woundwort, Purple-loosestrife, Rosebay Willowherb, American Willowherb, Great Willowherb, Creeping Buttercup, Silverweed, Bramble, Common Nettle.

Wildlife included: Mallard, Mute Swan, Northern Lapwing, Magpie, Goldfinch, House Martin, Barn Swallow, Common Coot, Common Moorhen.

And Common Blue Damselfly; Hedge Brown, Painted Lady and Speckled Wood butterflies.

Yellow Loosestrife (Lysimachia vulgaris)
Little time was left to explore Moore Nature Reserve. A short walk to the feeding station, but nothing there at the time. By the side of the path to Birch Wood Pool were two stands of Yellow Loosestrife (Lysimachia vulgaris), not to be confused with the variety seen frequently in gardens (Lysimachia punctata). Seems strange that these two stands occur in isolation here, but they have been here for many years.

Flowering plants noted: Red Campion, Woundwort, Purple-loosestrife, Rosebay Willowherb, Common Evening-primrose, Yellow Loosestrife, Meadowsweet.

Wildlife: Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Greater Canada Goose, Mute Swan, European Robin, Great Crested Grebe, Common Coot, Comma, Hedge Brown and Peacock butterflies, Brown-lipped Snail.

Mike Pettipher

Wednesday 23rd July - Stretford

An unexpected visitor to our garden this summer is this Giant Puffball (Calvatia gigantea). We did have one elsewhere last year, but didn't spot it until too late to eat it. This time, after removing the slugs, cutting into steaks and frying with garlic, it provided the focus of our evening meal.

Giant Puffball - in the garden
Giant Puffball - in garden
Giant Puffball - cutting into steaks
cutting into steaeks...



Giant Puffball - in the pan
in the pan
Giant Puffball - on the plate
on the plate

Cathy and Mike Pettipher

12th July 2014 - Snake Pass, Bleaklow

Having found Giant Hogweed at the Woodhead Pass (A628, Manchester - Sheffield; see entry on 12th June), we found giant orchids at the Snake Pass (A57, Manchester - Sheffield).
Heath Spotted Orchid (Dactylorhiza maculata)
Heath Spotted Orchid (Dactylorhiza maculata)
Heath Spotted Orchid (Dactylorhiza maculata)
Heath Spotted Orchid (Dactylorhiza maculata)
 They were up to almost a metre in height, about one third of which was the flower spike. Probably a hybrid of Heath Spotted Orchid, which likes the acid soil of the peaty Peak District.

En route along the Pennine Way to Bleaklow, we found this fine, Emperor Moth caterpillar, about 8cm long:
Emperor Moth Caterpillar (Saturnia pavonia)
The Emperor Moth is the only British member of the Saturniidae, a family that contains some of the largest insects in the world. It is reasonably common over much of Britain, occupying moorland and open country. The caterpillar feeds on moorland plants such as heather and bramble, so should not go hungry near Bleaklow.

Cathy and Mike Pettipher

Tuesday 1st July - Pennington Flash

Another pleasant, sunny evening for our walk - this time to Pennington Flash. Unfortunately many of the hides are now locked early so we could not use these in the evening. We took the path clockwise around the Flash from the main car park, walking as far as the little stream, currently dry, before the sailing club. While it is possible to walk all of the way round the Flash in an evening, it is not at a botanist's pace! Claire had done a recce prior to the walk and took us to the most interesting sights, particularly the meadows, which must have a great variety of flora - with much evidence of flowers fruiting as well as many currently in flower.

The Corn-cockle and Cornflower were especially attractive - see photos below.

Corn-cockle (Agrostemma githago)
Corn-cockle (Agrostemma githago)
Other flora seen included: Spear and Marsh Thistle,Hogweed, Tufted and Bush Vetch, Red and White Clover, Hedge Bindweed, Meadowsweet, Raspberry (fruiting), Bramble (flowering), Crab Apple (fruiting) Silverweed, Creeping Buttercup, Yellow Rattle, Greater Bird's-foot Trefoil, Red Campion, Self-heal, Marsh Woundwort, Marsh Bedstraw (extensive stands of it), Ox-eye Daisy, Great Willowherb and Yellow Flag Iris.

Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus)
Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus)
Other plants noted were: Great Reedmace, Reed Canary Grass, Great Horsetail, Pendulous Sedge and White Poplar.

There were innumerable Common Blue Damselflies on the flowers of one of the meadows, and the occasional Burnet Moth and Meadow Brown Butterfly.

Birds seen (or heard) were: Buzzard,Wood Pigeon, Blackbird, Jay, Magpie, Swallow, Swift, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat, Black-headed Gull, the beautiful Arctic Tern, Mute Swan, Mallard, Canada Goose, Tufted Duck and Great Crested Grebe. More water birds would have been expected had we reached the other side of the Flash with other wetland areas.

Two Rabbits were seen although one seemed to show some signs of myxymatosis.

There is clearly a major problem with Japanese Knotweed - while much has been killed, it seems to simply treat this as a challenge and returns with great vigour. It looks as though limiting the spread may be the objective, rather than the the almost impossible task of eradication.There are also extensive stands of Himalayan Balsam, the flowers of which at least, are attractive - to bees and us, even if the plant is highly invasive and difficult to control.

Pennington Flash
Pennington Flash
We were rewarded again with another beautiful sunset.

Tuesday 17th June - Teggs Nose Country Park

It was a beautiful evening for our visit to Teggs Nose Country Park. The Park is on the western edge of the Peak District with extensive views over the Cheshire plain.
Cheshire plain from Teggs Nose Country Park
Cheshire plain from Teggs Nose Country Park

Ox-eye Daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare)
Ox-eye Daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare)
The four fields known as the meadows are at their best at the moment, with a stunning display of wild flowers, including in particular vast numbers of Ox-eye Daisies and Common Spotted Orchids. Other species seen were: Yarrow, Marsh Thistle, Pignut, Hogweed, Meadow Buttercup, Bird's Foot Trefoil, Red and White Clover, Germander and Heath Speedwell, Heath Bedstraw, Tormentil, Red Campion, Rowan, Bush Vetch, Ribwort Plantain, Foxglove and Eyebright.

One of the spcialities of the area is Mountain Pansy, found on the higher slopes with shorter grass. It was pleasing to see a number of these delicate flowers, all except one yellow, as in the picture, but one a deep bluish violet.

Common Spotted Orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii)
Common Spotted Orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii)
Mountain Pansy (Viola lutea)
Mountain Pansy (Viola lutea)

Grasses identified were: Crested Dog's-tail, Cock's-Foot, Yorkshire Fog and Quaking Grass, and Scaly Male Fern was common in the quarry area.

Birds seen included Great Tit, Skylark, Magpie, Wood Pigeon, Swallow, Swift and a Heron.

Unfortunately we did not see the Weasel family, seen last year at the same time in the quarry.

A wonderful sunset brought a photographer up just as we were leaving - a fitting end to a very pleasant evening.

Tuesday 17th June - Stretford

'Trimming' conifers is never very satisfying - it usually involves cutting off all the green material, leaving a mass of brown dying needles and exposed stumps. At least in this example, a healthy growth of fresh green ivy could be spread over much of the unattractive remains. However there is always something interesting to be found in such operations. A large, apparently golden (seen from below in bright sunlight) dragonfly perched on the top of one of the cut branches. It was tolerant of fetching a camera and climbing halfway up the ladder with it before deciding this was close enough, but not close enough for a photo nor for identification.
Green Lacewing ? eggs (Chrysopidae)
Green Lacewing ? eggs (Chrysopidae)
Something rather less mobile was found on a very small dead twig, as in this photo. It is a collection of eggs on stalks (thanks to Liz Blackman for recognising them probably as insect eggs). The eggs are 1-2mm and the stalks about 5-10mm. Some searching suggested they may be Green Lacewing (family Chrysopidae) eggs. Certainly Green (and other) Lacewings do lay their eggs in this way, but this is not a definitive identification, and suggestions are welcomed. If they are lacewing eggs and if they hatch, they will become voracious predators particularly of soft-bodied forms of insects such as aphids, other larvae and eggs, before turnng into the delicate and beautiful net-winged adults.
John Fulton

Thursday 12th June - Woodhead Pass and Howden Moors


Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum)
Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum)
 On reaching the top of the Woodhead Pass (A628 - Manchester to Sheffield Road), I was surprised to see a small colony of the impressive Giant Hogweed. I do not recall seeing it there before, although the old stems make it clear that it was there in at least one previous year. It frequently grows to about 3 metres, but supposedly up to about 5 metres! It is frequently seen by waterways, which help in seed dispersal - there are vast numbers by the river Bollin.  It is a phototoxic plant - the sap can cause severe skin blisters, when exposed to sunlight or UV. It was introduced from the Caucasus in the 19th century primarily for ornamental reasons, but is now widespread. As a result of its toxicity and its ability to spread it has been an offence of the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 to plant or otherwise encourage it to grow in the wild. It is now frequently removed. (Ref: Wikipedia and Flora Britannica)

Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum)
Pond Water Crowfoot (Ranunculus peltatus)
In the marshy area nearby was a marsh orchid, and this Water Crowfoot (a member of the Buttercup family) - probably Pond Water Crowfoot.
Cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus)
Cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus)
Walking up on to the moors at this time of year, you are quite likely to see the distinctive leaf and solitary flower of the Cloudberry (the Rose family, like the Strawberry and Blackberry). Hunt around and you may also find the fruit - a clearly recognisable berry.
Cloudberry - the berry
The berry
Mountain Hare (Lepus timidus)
Mountain Hare (Lepus timidus)
Mountain Hare (Lepus timidus)
Mountain Hare (Lepus timidus)
However the main reason for this short walk was to look for the Mountain Hare. I frequently search for it in winter when it has turned white, and is easy to spot in mild winters without snow. It is certainly better camouflaged in summer, although now still showing some of the pale winter coat. They do have a habit of sitting upright to gain a good view of potential dangers, such as the buzzard not too far away, but are most obvious, if only briefly, when startled and speeding away. I was pleasantly surprised how many I saw - perhaps a dozen, in quite a short time, and that they did allow a couple of photos....

Mike Pettipher