Stoats and Toads

We have recently had a very playful stoat visiting the garden.
 In Spring we had guests staying who came in one day to tell me about seeing a stoat rolling an egg accross the road as they drove home from Chipping. At the time I said they were lucky to have seen this happen as I had heard of this but never seen it myself. A few weeks ago as I drove through the other side of Chipping village on my way to Whalley I too saw a stoat rolling an egg accross the main road. I ask myself "is this a common event or are the stoats in Chipping EggHeads" ?

Yesterday after Robert cut the hedge he decided to trim some of the ivy on the garden wall as it was hanging over the path and it was giving us an extra shower each time we brushed passed it. As soon as the offending strands of ivy were removed there were three small nests in a row, all within a few feet of each other at between five and six feet from the ground. All were empty of birds but to his surprise the third one contained a rather disgruntled toad.

Pied Wagtails and Swallows

One afternoon last week I managed to spot where the wagtails had been taking all the insects that they were collecting on the garden. They were busy feeding their young in a nest site that has in other years been used by the Grey Wagtails in the wall of Brook House. Barrie Tyrer called and he took the pictures, thanks Barrie.
After my worries that the swallows were very late in arriving this year they seem to be doing very well rearing lots of young with nests in four buildings. It's the first time they have used the verandah on the summer house.  

Flowers in The Meadow

On Sunday Jacob ( our grandson ) suggested a picnic for tea and as the weather was perfect at that moment  we got it packed and set out accross the fields towards The Parish Hall Wood. The picnic table and bench came in handy and we had a lovely time sitting eating while listening to the birds in the wood and the curlews calling over the fields. Crossing The Middle Field was very pretty with the patches of Common Orchid amongst the buttercups.

It’s a miracle

At last the determined Oyster Catcher that made her nest in the hollow in the top of the gate post has hatched two of her original three eggs. We believe the third was taken by the pestering crows.
She did need a little help in the end as the chicks could not manage to vacate the nest as it was to deep for them. This wonderful weather will give them a good start and we did see them later on in the day safely with Mum and Dad on the ground.


On Friday I went to the orchard to pick a bunch of pheasant eye flowers before the cottage guests were due to arrive. I was surprised to find I had company, this Roe Deer.
At last the swallows have settled in the barn, there have been swallows passing through on the farm but our own group are a whole month later than last year.
The woods are looking lovely with the bluebells at their best. The cow parsley and red campion are now out in the hedge rows, everything looks so green, each day more trees come into leaf.

Nest with a view.

picture taken by Helen Turner
picture taken by Barrie Tyrer

This Oyster Catcher decided to go for a nest with a view. She is sitting on three eggs, at first she flew off the nest everytime a car passed by. After a few days she was ok with the passing traffic even with the rattle of the cattle grid. We have some concerns about the number of times she flies from the nest when people pass by using the footpath but we hope she is successful.

Green Cone

This week we sited our new Green Cone food waste digester system. It will take all the food scraps that cannot go into the compost bins. It should be a good time to get it up and running as it works best in the sunshine.
Our wildflower strip is getting better each year, the cowslips have been done very well this Spring and we hope to have a good mixture of flowers through the Summer.

All Fall Down — Well Half

We may have missed the snow but we did get a night of very gusty winds, the tall twin trunked eucalyptus is only half its former self.
The bees and butterflies have been making the most of the warm Spring days and the blackbirds are very busy feeding their young. I am keeping my fingers crossed hoping the prowling magpie will not find them.
Two of last weeks guests, driving back from Chipping, watched a stoat roll an egg all the way accross the road. A whole new take on rolling Easter Eggs !!

Our Forest of Bowland Holiday Cottages

Mad as a March Hare.

It was a glorious morning to set out on the walk to watch the Brown Hare. The group were well rewarded, for rising early with good sightings of their antics and the thrill of catching them boxing.
The calls of the curlew, lapwing and oystercatchers added to the enjoyment. A slight detour from the path was needed when we came upon a pair of mating toads.
A Brown Hare Workshop with Wyre Rangers and
Sam Bolton from The Wildlife Trust followed at Bleasdale Parish Hall.

Our Forest of Bowland Holiday Cottages

Black and Blue

Today was one of those wonderful clear blue sky days here in Bowland and it was the first time this year we have had flocks of lapwing flying over on their pre breeding season " away days "

It's a real treat to have them back even if it's just for short visits, it gives you hope that it won't be too long before they come to stay to breed.

Now just hours later we have the clear black sky that is perfect to see the spectacle of the sky at night, no light polution, it's a wonderful sight!

Sparassis crispa – Cauliflower Fungus

After taking a walk a few days ago to collect greenery to make door wreaths for Christmas I decided to check the young trees in the orchard.
Glancing across to the fence I was surprised to see two alien looking shapes. On closer inspection, they were growing out of the ground, the larger of the two being at least a foot across. They were growing from the roots of a very old fir tree. After consulting my Mushroom and Fungi book I found they were Cauliflower fungus that can grow to 5 kg. described as having a pleasant spicy scent and mild taste.

A Little of What You Fancy Does You Good!!

As I was sitting at the kitchen table eating my breakfast- one Weetabix with a handful of Special K , a Brown Hare was doing the rounds of the garden. Along with some grass its' menu included - pine shoots with some sappy bark, leaves from the Lavetera, holly and thorn finnishing off with a good helping of sorrel. It had eaten its" five a day" before 8 o'clock!

Tewit Tea Walk

As part of the Garstang walking Festival we had a "Tewit Tea Walk" this afternoon. Along with the lapwing with young there were sightings of Curlew, Oyster Catchers and Whimbrel. As the walk passed Jonas Wood the three young Tawny Owls were to be seen peeping out of their nest, one even climbing on top of its' siblings to get a better view of the passing bird watchers.

An unusual sighting for us here was a Pied Flycatcher, a young male calling for a mate.

Our Forest of Bowland Holiday Cottages

A Sunday Afternoon Walk

I hadn't been to the lake for a while so we decided to have a walk down this afternoon. As we approached the Redshank flew up. The rowing boat was in the shallows with quite a bit of water in so I suggested pulling it on to the bank but I soon changed my mind as a water hen has decided to make her nest on the seat, eight eggs. I used to have an uncle who each Spring would ask " how high were the water hens nests" his theory being this would be a sign for how wet the summer would be. What would he have said of this one? Next we found a goose nest, five Greylag eggs. Didn't stay long as the Redshank were coming back again. Walked on passed the clay pit, lots of snipe about and the marsh marigolds look good. Then on to the sedge bed, the toad spawn is looking promising. Came back by the newly laid hedges, coming into leaf now. Our Forest of Bowland Holiday Cottages

Swallows Return

What a glorious day we all had today! It got off to a lovely start when the first thing I sighted from the bedroom window was a swallow. Often the first one to come back will be on it's own for up to a week before the rest follow, but not this year, there are two already. So it's time to keep the barn door open for the Summer. Within two minutes of propping the door open for them they were straight in and sitting on top of the big light making their fantastic chattering sounds. Lets hope this weather stays a while, it makes everything so enjoyable-even work!

Our Forest of Bowland Holiday Cottages

Live on "Hare" from Bleasdale.

Our Forest of Bowland Holiday Cottages Hare by Toon Photo

One of our hares has become a star! on the front cover of this months Lancashire Life magazine.

The weather could not have been better today for The Brown Hare Event organised by Wyre Countryside Rangers and Lancashire Wildlife. We also had a visit from the BBC Radio Lancashire with Stephen Lowe live from Bleasdale.

Saw my first Redshank of the season yesterday-lovely!

Desirable residential accommodation.

Our Forest of Bowland Holiday Cottages

We now have accommodation available for owls. These two desirable (we hope ) residences are now ready for occupation. The first is at the edge of our ten year old woodland on a recycled telegraph pole with views to Beacon Fell. The second is in a mature ash tree near the cottages with views of Parlick. Now the wait begins to see if we have any interest, we may have to be patient!

Planting, laying and surveying.

Our Forest of Bowland Holiday Cottages

The hedge laying that was postponed before Christmas is now coming along very well and all but two of the new fruit trees are now planted. The Brown Hares featured on the television twice last week once on BBC North West and again on News Round with the children from Bleasdale School. Both pieces were to publicise The Lancashire Wildlife project surveying the number of Brown Hare in Lancashire.

Winter Projects.

Our Forest of Bowland Holiday Cottages

As I lay in bed this morning juggling the days jobs in my head " UPDATE THE BLOG " was screaming at me so here goes.

Our 10years of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme came to an end so that meant a whole new list of projects for the Higher Level Scheme to begin. Robert made a good start on the extra bunds and scrapes for the Lapwing Project. The hedge laying that was planned for Nov/Dec has now been postponed, first for the heavy rain and then for the snow-Health and Safety. It is now pencilled in for the New Year as is the planting of the new fruit trees. Yesterday I had a message to say the new owl boxes were ready for collecting.

As I went through the young woodland recently it was good to see an abundance of berries on the hollies, even a few hazel nuts (that's a first) and I have never before seen so many sloes. Walking home accross the fields there were plenty of snipe about. I even caught sight of a woodcock as I drove back from a meeting at dusk. Another night sighting - Robert went out to check one of the new security lights and on his wanderings between the timed phases he shone his torch along the brook and was surprised to see a group of brown trout, 3-4 inches long. The ducks are back at the lake now the ice is thawing.