A day with the Nelson naturalists…

Fungal Foray – October 15th, 2019

The day began at Marsden park in Nelson and then after lunch we headed to a field adjacent to “The Atom” (Panopticon) in Laneshawbridge, Colne. It was cool and dry for the first part of our outing, then we had a chilly afternoon in the open, during the second half. There was predicted rainfall but the rain held off for us.

The first mushroom of the day was a Stinking Dapperling mushroom, (Lepiota cristata). 


The next find was an interesting one, a Fluted Bird’s Nest Fungus (striatus). These were very low on the ground and resembled miniature bird’s nests with numerous tiny “eggs”, which are actually peridioles and contain spores.

Just off the path and into a shady patch, we found a Yellow Stainer (Agaricus xanthodermus). 



This mushroom displays a strong yellow colouration at the base of the stem when cut.



Common Rustgill (Gymnopilus penetrans). 

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Crystal brain (Jelly) Fungus (Exidia nucleate)

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Middle/right –  Angel’s Bonnet Mycena arcangeliana)   Bottom – Stump Puffball (Lycoperdon pyriforme)

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Candlesnuff Fungus  (Xylaria hypoxylon). This one is also known as ‘Stag’s Horn’.  You can see the spores dispersing in the top image. It has an erect, simple or forked body with a downy stalk. It grows in groups on dead and rotting wood, and can be found on stumps and branches of many different trees.

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Top – Grey Coral (Clavulina cinerea).  Middle/Bottom – Hen-of-the-Wood (Grifola frondosa).


This Hen-of-the-wood was very impressive!



Below – maze bracket

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Artist’s bracket (Ganoderma applanatum). This mushroom has been used as a drawing medium for artists. When the fresh white surface is rubbed or scratched with a sharp implement, dark brown tissue under the pores is revealed, resulting in visible lines and shading that become permanent once the fungus is dried.

To be continued…







Marsden Park and Gib Hill

A field trip with the naturalists, 9th of July.

Marsden Park

We began our walk at Marsden Park, located on Walton Road in Nelson. An overall enjoyable day with light drizzle and overcast skies. Alison guided us around the park, she was very informative with the parks history and its plant life. We so a good variety of plants. I picked out some from the first half of the trip.

IMG_5114Marsden Park

Photographing some Black Medic


Black Medick – Medicago lupulina


Fennel herb

We looked at Irish and Common Yew. The Irish Yew has needles that are small and curved with a pointed tip. They are black-green (darker than common Yew) The needles grow all around the main stem. Common Yew needles grown in rows from the main stem.


Left: Irish Yew & Right: Common Yew

279A0373Lime tree

Lime tree – Tilia x europaea has a beautiful scent.

Lime leaves are eaten by the caterpillars of many moth species, like the lime hawk moth. The leaves are also attractive to aphids, which lore in predators, including hoverflies, ladybirds and many species of bird. The flowers provide nectar and pollen for insects, particularly bees.


Close up Lime leaves


Lovely Canadian Lilac


Close up of the Canadian Lilac

Below, we have Broad-leaved Dock and underneath, Wood Dock.

Broad-leaved Dock have leaves that are large and oblong, whereas the Wood Dock leaves are more slender with straighter stems. The flowers are more spread out in the Broad-leaved Dock. It was quite interesting to see their differences as they were in close proximity.

Mike spotted some Brittle fern, which was quite suited to its name, anew one for me. He also spotted a species of Liverwort on the wall above the stem.

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Gib Hill

Alison directed us to Gib Hill, which was fairly close to Marsden Park. The area was all open and grassy. There were trees of all ages and a good variety of flora and fauna. The skies remained mostly cloudy and the odd drizzly shower occurred, which kept a few insects hidden away. We did have a brief break in the clouds where a few Meadow Browns, Ringlets, Peacocks and a couple of Large Skippers appeared.

279A0409Young spiders

There were many of these webs dotted around in the grass. On close inspection, you could see the young spiders scrambling around within the web.

279A0417-2Peacock caterpillar

It was great to see these Peacock caterpillars on the nettles beside the path. We spotted another group of them on the way back and those were younger than these. 

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Alison made us aware that Gib Hill had been targeted by developers. Locals have campaigned to protect the area that lies between nelson and Colne.




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Large Skipper – Ochlodes sylvanus

The presence of a faint chequered pattern on both sides of the wings distinguishes this species from the similar Small Skipper.


I was quite pleased with this capture. A Latticed Heath moth on some Vetch.

279A0563Wood Stork's-bill

Wood Stork’s-bill


Common Spotted Orchid


Wood Horsetail

Another good day out enjoyed by all




Wood End Sewage Works and Nelson Victoria Park

21st of June 2019

Wood End Sewage Works 

We parked on Wood End, off Barden Lane and walked along the country road until we reached the sewage works. There were quite a good number Canada geese and their young, along with black-headed gulls and a Grey Heron.


Further down the road, we saw goldfinch, house sparrows, chaffinch and robins. Carrying on along the road, there is a farm house to the right and a bend in the road..


On the left just past these buildings there’s a large open field and a worn path. The path takes you along a route named ‘Spurn Clough’

The first bird we saw was a female reed bunting, that was flushed from the tall grass. We heard a Sedge warbler and Blackcap in the trees. Mike spotted two patches of Ragged-Robin. Reading up on this plant, I learnt that the’re becoming rarer to see as our wild wetland habitats disappear.


These can be seen in a wildflower meadow, damp pasture or woodland ride. Bees and butterflies benefit from these flowers by collecting nectar from them.


 Gardeners can plant Ragged-Robin in a boggy area or in a flower border.

We came across two Willow Warblers and watched them flitting around Hawthorn trees for insects, then journeying to and from a patch of low vegetation with food for their young.

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As we made out way along the path, we counted a few more of these warblers, they appeared to be newly fledged, lovely to see.

A break in the clouds sent warm rays down on an open area and a few butterflies including Meadow Brown, Peacock, Orange Tip and these two underneath, emerged…


Speckled Wood


Large Skipper


It was wonderful to see newly fledged long-tailed tits in the area.

We reached a bend in the River Calder and scouted out a Common Sandpiper after hearing its calls. Mike caught a glimpse of a Kingfisher and there was a Grey Heron in the field to the back of the river, also a few Sand Martins and Mallards around the river.


River Calder at ‘Spurn Clough’

We walked up a short distance from this river bend amongst the vegetation. Once part way up this hill, you over look this section of the river. Mike spotted a ‘Chimney Sweeper’ moth. I was memorised by its beauty and the way it wings moved as it was perched.


Chimney Sweeper moth. They like to feed on the flowers and seeds of Pignut (Conopodium majus).

We saw a small number of Damselflies in the area… hoping my IDs are correct but I’m still learning.


Female Banded Demoiselle 


Male Banded Demoiselle 


Male Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly

Along the river, the area is open and there was a good patch of Common Bird’s-foot-trefoil. It’s a member of the pea family and is a low-growing plant. Mike was telling me that Common Blue butterflies like this plant as a food source for their caterpillars. After sitting down for a brief rest, the sun came out from behind the clouds once again. All of a sudden, Common Blue’s appeared. I always wonder where butterflies hide during bad weather, they hide so well! We counted a minimum of eight.


Common Blue on Bird’s-foot-trefoil.

Nelson Victoria Park

It’s a delightful time of year when fledglings and juvenile birds are around. The pond at Nelson Victoria Park has many waterfowl. That day, we observed a Coot family, Canada geese, Mallards, a single female Mandarin duck,  and a Grey Heron to name a few.

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Juvenile Grey Heron


Leighton Moss and Silverdale Cove

A trip out with the naturalists took place in mid June.

Leighton Moss RSPB nature reserve is situated in the north-west of England, it has the largest reed bed in the area. We were welcomed into the reserve by this handsome robin.


We saw male Reed bunting in the first patch of reeds and male and female Marsh Harriers. Swifts were seen flying low in good numbers. Reed warblers and sedge warblers were heard calling.


Rainfall and thunderstorms were predicted throughout the day but the rain held off for the whole day.




Male Marsh Harrier

We stumbled upon a beautiful moment when I young male fawn popped his head above a patch a grass alongside the path. We would have missed seeing him, had he not been so curious. Truly beautiful animals.



I was pleased with how this male Pheasant turned out, striking features.


Handsome Pheasant


This tiny rodent led us to one of the hides.

We sat in the ‘Lower hide’ and saw Lapwings, Great Crested Grebe, Mallard, Coots, Mute Swans and there young as well as a Grey Heron. We got a distant view of a Bittern flying across and a male Marsh Harrier. We also saw a single otter.




On the way back we spotted a single Marsh tit and watched it for short time.


Marsh tit feeding


Shortly after mid-day, it became warmer and a few insects emerged and we saw this damselfly. We didn’t get a good ID on this one as we needed a top view of the thorax. Update, identified as a male Azure Damselfly.

Silverdale Cove


Our next location was a Silverdale Cove, we had the area to ourselves.

A path takes you up alongside the shore towards ‘Bank House Farm’ owned by the National Trust. I think the area is also known as the ‘Lots’ and is close to Silverdale village. There are views out over Morecambe Bay from a network of paths. The grasslands provide the perfect setting for spring displays of wildflowers. The geology there is limestone grassland, and it provides habitat for a variety of local songbirds and migratory birds.


A few wildflowers we came across – Celery-leaved buttercup, Cut-leaved Crane’s-bill, Common Meadow-rue, Common Rue, Horseshoe Vetch, Dropwort, Squinancy wort, Field Madder, Limestone Bedstraw, Parsley-piert, Spring Sandwort, Bulbous buttercup, and Lesser trefoil.

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From top to bottom – Wild Thyme, Rock rose and Spring Sandwort

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Top left to top right – Cut-leaved Cranesbill, Common Rue and English Stonecrop.                   Bottom – Dropwort and other wildflowers.

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Top left to top right – Squinancy wort and Parsley piert                                             Bottom left to bottom right – Field madder and Oil- seed Rape

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Main image – Spring Sandwort. The smaller image was taken last year at Sandscale Haws. It’s is Knotted Pearlwort, you can see the differences between them.

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A little late seeing any orchids but we managed to find this one. This was a Northern Marsh Orchid (dying back)


The ‘Lots’

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Silverdale ‘Lots’

The Kilns and Towneley Park

Spring is here!

My first trips out so far this year have been around local places. I live fairly close to the top end of Towneley park in Burnley. On the way to the park, there’s a walk that takes you to the top Towneley gate and picnic area. There is a road named ‘The kilns’ which has a path leading to a river and through an area that used to be a coal mine linked to Lancashire and Yorkshire railway’s Burnley to Todmorden line to the Leeds Liverpool canal. The colliery produced fireclay as well as coal used for household and manufacturing use, coking and for producing gas. The area now comprises of mossy hillocks and woodland.


A small replica brick kiln was built on a hillock to commemorate the colliery’s brickwork’s.


Some lovely woodland along the path.



Walking alongside the railway line towards Towneley.


An alternative path that takes you around the fields alongside New Road and to the top of Towneley park.

There is quite a lot of nature to be seen in the area. I counted a good number of Small Copper butterflies on the path alongside New Road last year. I will be returning around the same time this year to count them again. So far I had noted Comma, Orange Tip, Speckled Wood, Peacock and Green-veined White in the area since late February this year.

I was very pleased to capture a photograph of a blackcap the other day. I spotted a male on the way round and failed to press the shutter in time. Fortunately, I heard him again on the way back home. This time, there was a female with him. Patience paid off and I came home with some good shots of the male.


Blackcap male


Blackcap male

Guelder rose (viburnum opulus)

This one is a spreading shrub, reaching up to 4m high. They can be seen on grassland, woodland, heathland and moorland, farmland, towns and gardens. The name ‘guelder rose’ originates in the Gelderland province of the Netherlands. The flowers are a creamy-white colour or sometimes pink.


These usually appear between May and July. There weren’t any flowers on this one and it was late August. This guelder rose was full of round, translucent, bright red berries that hung down in bunches. The berries are an important source of food for birds (mistle thrush and bull finch). The nectar is attractive to hover flies. The berries can be cooked into jelly or jam.


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From top left: Scarlet pimpernel flower, large flowered evening primrose, mugwort, tall melilot, Dog rose, common poppy,

Eyebright (Euphrasia Officinalis)

This is a low-growing herb found in all kinds of short grasslands. There are about 20 species of Eyebright and around 60 hybrids. There’e all very similar and hard to tell apart from each other.

This plant is semi-parasitic and feeds off the nutrients from the roots of nearby grasses.

It was used by traditional herbalists for the treatment of different eye disorders.


Sea Campion (Silene uniflora)