Looking at mosses at Risley Moss, Warrington (2015)

Risley Moss is a popular spot with locals looking for a pleasant walk.  I’ve always enjoyed the hidden, mysterious side of it – most people just stick to the woodland paths around the edge, but if you are lucky and go on a guided walk, you can visit the hidden moss at the centre of the site – a proper bog in the middle of urban Birchwood!  Not at all what you would expect on driving up to the site from the surrounding housing developments.

The main bog has 5 species of Sphagnum, so we were hopeful we would see something interesting when Warrington Plant Group visited in February 2015.  The ranger suggested we might like to visit the “mini-moss”, an area which is being restored to bog having previously been damp woodland.  Amazingly, it is only two years since the trees were removed:

bog restoration site at Risley Moss Continue reading

BREEAM survey near Chester, Cheshire (2015)

Could this be the world’s most exciting survey ? (!)

The dull but useful BREEAM survey took a new turn last month when I found myself surveying a car park near Chester.  Now usually when doing a BREEAM survey it’s on a site which already has planning permission for development, so I don’t expect to see much in the way of wildlife – maybe a bit of Japanese knotweed to liven things up – but a functional car park takes boring to a new level !

I think the ornamental flower beds have probably never seen such scrutiny:

wow such excite

Honestly, this is good and nothing to complain about – this development is in the right place with no obvious impact on wildlife.  Plus, the client is aiming to get a good score on the BREEAM environmental certification, so good on them.  They’ll probably do well on the ecology credits given what is(n’t) on the site at the moment.

Ecologically uninteresting it may have been, but the site did have the benefit of a variety of shops, restaurants and public facilities and when could you last say that about somewhere you surveyed?

In fact, I could do with more projects like this !

Yellow-necked mouse confirmed from Bickerton !

Cheshire Mammal Group have been on a mission the past few years to find out more about the yellow-necked mouse in Cheshire.

The yellow-necked mouse is basically a big wood mouse with a yellow chest stripe and we know it occurs in Shropshire and Staffordshire so why not Cheshire?  It was first recorded in Cheshire in recent times during dormouse box checks at a site in the far south of the county.  Then the mammal group found another one while small mammal trapping near Beeston.

The Bickerton area was the obvious choice for targeting small mammal trapping and has been surveyed before with no success.  This didn’t deter the group, however, as one night of trapping is just a sample and we wouldn’t just walk away after one negative experience.  Back we went in early February 2015 to see whether we would be lucky this time. Continue reading

Badger vaccination surveys are here again :)

Wirral and Cheshire Badger Group are building on their vaccination programme started last year.  We hope to include more sites in 2015, but our priority is to make sure we vaccinate again at all the sites we did last year.  Guidance is that we need five consecutive years’ vaccination at each site to obtain herd immunity, so that’s what we’re going to do!

We began by re-surveying a site near Chester.  Each site needs to be surveyed prior to vaccination to see whether anything has changed or any new setts have been dug which might be good locations for trapping badgers.  It’s quite a bit easier re-surveying a site than it is starting from scratch, as you can imagine, and it was gratifying to find that the badger setts recorded last year were still active and that activity patterns seemed fairly consistent with last year’s results.  This suggests we would do well to put the bait and traps out in the same places as last year.

badger surveyors at work

Hopefully the other sites needing re-survey this year will be as straightforward :)

Warrington Plant Group: bryophytes of Sankey Valley Park

Inspired by North Wales Plant Group, I decided to start a group here in Warrington.  So if you’re interested in botany please do join in :)

Examining epiphytic mosses

Our first meeting was held in my local park – just in case nobody turned up!  Sankey Valley Park has a good range of habitats including trees, scrub, grassland, canal and walls.  We identified plenty of common mosses and liverworts and had a pleasant time, although it could have been a bit warmer!

We plan to have a meeting every month, with meetings on bryophytes from October to March and flowering plants from April to September.  If you’d like to join in, visit our Facebook page or contact me using the tab at the top of the page to join the email list.