Wednesday 16th April 2014

Ramsons in flower by Timperley Brook near Navigation Road. Large White butterfly in garden at Brook Lane.
Jacky Johnson

Monday 14th April 2014 - Stretford

Marsh Marigold
Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)
A Marsh Marigold plant is now in full flower in our pond. Seemingly nothing unusual about that at this time of year, but note there is another Marsh Marigold plant in the pond which is only just coming into leaf. There was a time difference in flowering time last year as well, but not as great as this. Are they simply different varieties which flower at different times? The one flowering now has slightly paler leaves. Or could there be any other explanation? The two plants do have different origins - the one flowering now came from a (garden) pond near Ruthin at about 220 metres above sea level, while the other from one in the Midlands at about 70 metres. It is tempting to wonder whether the altitude, which will affect the temperature, might be relevant. It would be interesting to know whether these plants are flowering at the same time as other specimens from the original ponds.

Marsh Marigold
Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)

Mike Pettipher

Thursday 10th April 2014

Numerous cowslips along the side of Hasty Lane near Manchester Airport.
Mike Pettipher

Hedgehog in back garden, Broadheath.
Margaret McCormick

Thursday 10th April 2014 - Weaver Valley

Moschatel (Adoxa moschatelina)
 A visit to the Weaver valley provided much interest. Flowers in and near Bird's Wood included Lesser Celandine and Wood Anemone (nearly finished), Golden Saxifrage (Opposite Leaved), Wood Sorrel, Marsh Marigold, Red Dead-nettle and the first few Red Campion and Bluebells, with many more to come. Of special interest was the very small, attractive Moschatel or Town Hall Clock. Given they are usually quite difficult to spot, they seemed remarkably visible, indicating how many there were.

Moschatel gall: Puccinea albescens

 For such a small plant, it seems almost unfair that it can be affected by a gall - in this case caused by the fungus Puccinea albescens.

Numerous Common Fumitory were seen on roadsides en route to the river, along with Common Chickweed, Greater Stitchwort and Wavy Bittercress. Blackthorn was widespread and well in flower. Wild Garlic and Dog's Mercury were just starting to flower in a woodland bank.

Cherry stone hoard
Along side the river, a local resident pointed out a gap in a wall which contained hundreds of cherry stones (underneath a cherry tree). Most of the stones had holes, with teeth marks clearly visible at least on some of them. Seems likely that a Wood Mouse (or probably many of them) is the culprit. Whether they had been stored intentionally for later use, or just left after eating in a 'safe place' is not clear to me.

Cherry stones, with teeth marks

Other flowers seen by the river were Ladies Smock, Gorse, Dandelion and Daisy.

Birds included: Great and Long-tailed Tit, Robin, Blackbird, Wood Pigeon, Pheasant, Lapwing, Buzzard, Coot, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Shelduck, Canada Goose.

 Mike Pettipher

Tuesday 8th April 2014 - Marbury Country Park

A big flock of House Martins suddenly appeared at Marbury Country Park. Have they just arrived?
Claire Joures

Tuesday 1st April 2014

First swallow seen at Dunham Park. Blackcap near the canal. Wonderful view of male and female Peregrines sitting on pylons at Carrington Moss - near the United training ground.
Claire Joures

5 Buzzards at Dunham Park. Siskin, Brimstone and 4 Newts in Sale garden.
Pam and Phil Grundy