27 May 2014

THE LAST OF THE BLUEBELLS IN HARDCASTLE CRAGS

In complete contrast to the exposed high moor of the previous post, the following day we went to see the bluebells in the lush green woodland of the Hardcastle Crags valley before it was too late. Wonderful, uplifting sights, sounds and scents. I feel so lucky to be able to experience such varied landscapes and habitats so close to home.







18 May 2014

ON HIGH BROWN KNOLL

On Saturday we were walking up on High Brown Knoll in the sunshine, listening to Curlews, Golden Plovers, Lapwings and Skylarks.



We spotted a Curlew's nest, with four pale greenish, lightly speckled, pointed eggs and also a Golden Plover's with three paler, more rounded eggs and heavy dark speckling.


In both cases the nests are very simple shallow grass bowls.  We were walking on a very rarely used path that disappears into the moor and we know what to look out for.  The parent birds returned to the nests soon after we moved on and were not disturbed for long.


The moor here is a flat plateau and the many temporary pools that form over the winter are brim full and still, reflecting and magnifying the deep blue of the sky.


Where the water has retreated you can see the delicate footprints of numerous birds in the dark peat.


Between the pale rushes and moor grass are blankets of moss and bilberry making a subtly colourful patchwork in sharp green and russet.



A wider viewpoint on the return journey looks over the semi-cultivated fields of Crimsworth Dean, below the benign little clouds running up the valley, towards Widdop and Gorple reservoirs.