Posted by: lensweb | January 4, 2020

Forbes Hole Blog

Have you made any New Year’s Resolutions? I have been puzzling what, where or how to commit. I have usually bought a diary by now or someone has bought me a calendar but, I never keep the diary going and calendars have gone electronic.

Then I went for a stroll round Forbes Hole and the thought occurred that as 2020 is such an apocryphal date I might try and keep a diary of my regular visits there. I don’t think it will compete with ‘Diary of an Edwardian Lady’ but I’ll have a go and might even be inspired to try out my new painting kit as well as my new camera.

First a quick litter sweep in the car park, then on to the viewpoint over the pond where a moorhen was scooting rapidly towards the central island of common reed, it disturbed the kingfisher who flew to a branch on the farther shore. That was a good start, there has been a lot of rain and the extra open water is appreciated by the wildlife. I had a look along ‘the beach’ and saw another large willow had reclined over the wet Christmas period, the soft ground couldn’t hold it. There was a lot of ivy and brash from recent efforts to plant a hedge along the floodbund, a secondary objective being to let light into the ride. I put some bird-seed on a large ash tree stump to attract the robin who was ‘chipping’ and waited. A wren came and did a merry dance, three blackbirds acrobatically stripped the ivy berries, and were soon joined by a thrush, a couple of blue-tits and a great tit were picking insects off the tree bark but the robin waited until I’d moved on. It was a bit dark for photography.

A pair of coots busied about in the reeds through the stripey glare under the willows. Mallards splashily chased each other. Along the rail path to the further end blue-tits ‘pipped’ with a couple of goldcrests, said to be the smallest resident bird in the UK, they hoovered along the bark.

There are a couple of new benches on the meadow thanks to Erewash Borough Council, a good place to sit and be entertained by the wrens. A bullfinch, one of my favourite birds was in the Mirabelle Plum Tree. A cormorant and two herons flew as wood pigeons clattered a warning.

The woodland path is still sodden and a new common bypass is being used, I met a young man who said ‘Have you made any New Year’s Resolutions, while I thought, he said, ‘I have, I’ve walked from home and I’m going to walk round Forbes Hole four times every day to keep fit’. Let’s hope we both can keep our promise.

Bird Count: Mallard 8, Heron 2, Cormorant 1, Wood Pigeon 9, Magpie 2, Moorhen 1, Coot 2, Wren 8, Blackbird 5, Thrush 1, Bluetit 10, Goldcrest 2, Bullfinch 1, Great-tit 2, Kingfisher 1.

Marion Bryce: Saturday 4 January: 8C: Stormy sky

Geocaching is a healthy outdoor activity, a modern, hi-tech hide-and-seek. in which cachers use a GPS receiver to find a “treasure” hidden by other participants. Geocaches are hidden, often in interesting or attractive places, and the location is published on a geocache listing site. Caches are watertight containers containing items for exchange (mostly inexpensive trinkets) and a logbook in which the finder records their discovery of the cache. The find is then logged online, on the listing site. This maintains a record of caching activity and provides feedback to the owner of the cache. The coordinates of Geocache’s locations are stored in online databases, along with the description and instructions necessary to find them. Other cachers then use a GPS receiver to try to locate the cache. Geocaches are listed on several web sites.

Geocaching.com is said to be the largest site worldwide. Anyone can sign up, to try it out. Opencache.uk is a smaller site, with far fewer caches listed so coverage is patchy. But the site is non-commercial, and the full range of facilities is free.

You can use a dedicated GPS receiver for caching, and these work well with all the sites. Navigation functions allow you to enter and save waypoints (A waypoint is a location that you tell your your GPS to ‘go to’ for caches for example), navigate to waypoints and create and navigate routes. They all have a compass allowing you to see which direction to go. Geocaching use Degrees and Decimal minutes on the WGS84 map datum and this is what your GPS should be set to. So that the whole world of cachers use the same coordinate notation.

Caches traditionally are large enough to hold a few small and inexpensive “trade” items, though the modern trend is towards smaller caches. A finder may choose to take an item and replace it with something of similar value. Caches may also contain “trackables”, small objects or geocoins, which are moved from cache to cache and tracked on the listing site. Caches may be camouflaged to blend with the surroundings, or even disguised as other objects and left in plain view. Particularly in urban areas, caches may be much smaller to reflect the difficulty of hiding a large plastic box in a busy place. Which might explain why whilst working at Forbes Hole I found a Geocache. It was in a dark blue plastic box and was not very well hidden. Anyway, I looked at the fascinating little souvenirs inside and then closed the lid and put it back.

The next day I returned for the bird count. Three chaffinches were bathing in a puddle and there were a lot of blackbirds. The heron flew away. Great tits, blue tits and long tailed tits were busy although the great tits are getting a bit bossy. Three goldcrests were spread about the site, one thought it was a humming bird and hovered around the wild privet. I put some seed on the old tree stump but didn’t see what ate it, although there were two grey squirrels sorting leaves on the other side of the pond.

Bird Count:Blackbird 8, Wren 3, Goldcrest 3, Chaffinch 4, Heron, Mallard 4, Moorhen 2, Coot 2, Carrion Crow 2, Great-tit 2, Blue-tit 4, Long-tailed Tit 15

Marion Bryce 6 January 2020

This Monday the team cut back a few trees to let light in to encourage wildflowers, this caused a bit of a disturbance, but we still managed to see the black and white of a Great Spotted Woodpecker silhouetted high in a tree. At tea-break, Martin showed us a new app. Apparently few people these days can read a grid reference so there is an alternative ‘grid reference’ now being used. The what3words app. Every 3m x 3m square in the world has been given a unique 3 word address. Now you only need to three words to find or share any exact location. For some peculiar human reason words are easier to remember, than numbers. Using the app you can KNOW EXACTLY WHERE YOU PARKED YOUR CAR! Or to find your way to anywhere in the world. We wandered around Forbes Hole and tested the app at various places, it does wander around a bit but seems to be remarkably accurate. We were working at hats, noisy, tunes!

A member of the public donated 5 oak trees grown from acorns collected at Dale Abbey to Erewash Borough Council so we planted them at Forbes.  Steady rain followed me on my walk later in the week, ideal weather providing free tree aftercare!

White patches of fungal mycelium coated wet wood, a slime mould plasmodium slothfully oozed down the steps grazing on bacteria and organic matter. An earthstar in the woods, Geastrum pectinatum by spore size and decoration and by the lack of collar on the stem neck or slight ridge above the rays. A bright scarlet elfcap was Sarcocypha austriaca which has more coiled hairs then S. coccinea and is commoner too. The right sort of damp area for it and time of year. Hundreds of rusty toadstools tumbled down the bank:Tubaria romagnesiana (No spores exceeded 8.5 X 4.5/5 microns). These troop under willow, fortunately viewed damp, when they are bright orange/brown and rather smartly striped with silky white stems, when dry, they are boringly monotonaly buff.

Tubaria romagnesiana

We need flowers all through the year as insects can be woken from hibernation in any month, we’ve already seen a buff-tailed bumble bee Queen. Some snowdrops are flowering in the wood, the Friends of Forbes Hole planted them two years ago and are hoping they will spread. Argentine Fleabane, an adventitious alien was also flowering. The ivy clad woodland was silent as the grave.

A raven kraaked as it flew over and a crow settled itself into its lofty nest, black-headed gulls swirled round below the clouds as the sparrowhawk tipped itself off the tip of a tree, floated over the meadow, then silently scythed between the trees. This explained the previous lack of song birds, but now they were released, with a burst of robin, dunnock and wren, a troupe of blue tits, great tits and goldfinches busied in the birch catkins, all friends with a lot to say. 

Then it went dark and started to rain again so home I went.

Blackbird 7, Great tit 8, Goldfinch 2, Blue tit 4, Carrion Crow 1, Wren 2, Robin 1, Dunnock 1, Sparrowhawk 1, Mallard 4, Coot 3

Flying over: Black-headed Gull 2, Raven 1

Marion Bryce 17 January 2020

The less said about February the better, it rained continuously and there were violent storms. We were very lucky to have good weather for all of our Monday morning workdays. Most of the work was directed at re-creating the hedge along the ride and letting in more light for wildflowers. We also cleared two corners of the meadow to discourage the brambles. The primroses started to flower, the red campion never stopped flowering all year! It was too cold for insects.

March roared in like a lion with high winds but also an area of high pressure with bright sunshine, so although it felt bitterly cold, localised warming brought out the butterflies.2 Red Admirals seen on the 6th of March 2020 , Commas noted on the 16th of March , Long Eaton, 22 March Peacock, Comma, Small Tortoiseshell Brimstone. Drone Flies, marmalade flies and Tapered Hoverflies could be seen supping nectar from the dandelion and coltsfoot. Bumblebees, Red-tailed, Buff-tailed, Common Carder and Tree Bumblebee Queens were busy nectaring on the blue flowers of Green Alkanet before bumbling along the woodland edge looking for mouseholes and other suitable places to start this years colony. Wherever the bumblebees went there were bee flies ready to dart in and lay their eggs. Mining bees, Andrena bicolour were on the coltsfoot. On the white dead-nettle Pied Shieldbugs were running and climbing to the topmost point. The chiffchaff announced his presence. The sparrowhawk was also quite vocal, screaming excitedly as followed the bands of mixed tits and goldfinches. But then it went cold again. The butterflies disappeared. On the last day of March the blackcap pair started to build their nest in a huge bramble thicket. The old factory site adjacent to Forbes was cleared in late March and the lawn of the old convent miraculously reappeared.

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Forbes Hole

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Convent lawn on old factory site

Goldcrest Forbes 300320

Goldcrest at Forbes Hole

Blackcap Forbes 300320

Blackcap at Forbes Hole

Chiffchaff Forbes 300320

Chiffchaff at Forbes Hole

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Elm at Forbes Hole

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Wayfaring Tree at Forbes Hole

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Primrose at Forbes Hole

The work parties stopped in April due to movement restrictions, but this will also give the birds a rest as now we have nesting song thrush and blackbird, wren and goldfinch, great-tit, blue-tit and long-tailed tit. On the water are coots, mallard and a pair of moorhens. The trees and bushes we planted have started to unfurl their leaves and life goes on.

2 April 2020

Forbes Hole is greening up with a lot of Jack-by-the-hedge. Forget-me-nots and red campion flowering. The blue flowers of green alkanet are very attractive to bees and butterflies. 42 butterflies counted today, mostly orange-tips, speckled woods and green-veined whites. Good to see a bright yellow brimstone and a holly blue on the ivy. The peacocks and comma are now past their best and the small tortoiseshells have disappeared altogether. Only three cuckoo flower plants but they were found by the orange tips.

The Vestal cuckoo-bee was searching for the nest of the buff-tailed bumble-bee Bombus terrestris. The female enters the nest and kills the queen, then laying her own eggs to be reared by the buff-tailed bumble-bee workers.

An important pollinator, the dark-edged bee-fly has a furry body and patterned wings. The long proboscis is used for drinking nectar. The female bee-fly flicks her eggs towards the entrance holes of solitary bee nests to allow the larvae to hatch in the right place.  The larvae are predators or parasitoids of other insect larvae.

Bluebells and cowslips were swaying in the woods. Blackcap, chiffchaff, robin, blackbird, wood-pigeon, goldcrest, dunnock and wren nesting, great-tits are using one of the old nest-boxes. On a very windy day, the birds weren’t singing. 

Last week I could hear the toads in the pond. This week I saw a male common newt swimming with its wavy crest. The terrapins were sunning on logs in their usual place and the first large red damsel-fly of the season emerged. Moorhen, coot and swans are nesting on the pond, but the pen hasn’t laid any eggs. The swans like to be fed but the confused cob hisses and rears whilst accepting the food.

20 April 2020

 


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