Friday, 4 April 2014

Patchwork Challenge Update; A Guest Blog from Paul Parsons

March 20th was cloudy with a brisk Southerly wind, birds seemed on the move with a Cormorant and 50+ herring gulls passing over the reserve. A pair of Lesser black back gulls were on the Northern wetland and 4 singing Chiffchaff were noted.

On 24th the wind had turned South Easterly, Sparrowhawk and a pair of Jay were seen and new birds for the year were Linnet and a singing Blackcap. 

Jay, M.J. Clark
At dawn on the 25th there were 7 Sand martin feeding over the Northern wetland and  birds were very active in the morning sun. The Canada geese were honking and fighting, Lapwings, Meadow pipits and Skylarks were displaying and the Robins and Thrushes were singing. Another 2 Sand martin flew past the new hide and a Stock dove also flew through.

Northern Wetlands in the sun, including Highland cow Hamish! Paul Parsons

An afternoon visit on the 29th was quiet until I was walking back from the new hide and the sun came out from the cloud. A cracking Osprey flew right over my head and over the Lapwing field but the tall hedge prevented me getting a photo. A male Swallow was over the field when I got further along, taking my bird list to 65.  

The 30th was sunny and warm, 2 more Blackcaps were back and singing and a Goshawk circled high above the reserve. Butterflies were much in evidence with Brimstone, Peacock, Small tortoiseshell and Comma all on the wing. 

Blackcap, Amy Lewis
Hopefully the good weather will continue into April. The first Willow warblers should be arriving any day now (NB. the first willow warblers were heard singing on 31st March by reserve wardens, RR), to be followed by Sedge warbler, Reed warbler and Whitethroats. 

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Parc Slip Nature Reserve, Fountain Road, Gondwanaland; A guest blog from Rudi Bright

Hi, my name is Rudi (Blog), I am 10 years old and I am a member of the ‘Friends of Parc Slip’ conservation group. Once a month we help out doing some work around the reserve. On Saturday 22nd March we were sowing wildflower seed mix on the bare earth bunds at the new scrapes. It was very muddy and I nearly lost my new wellies a couple of times.

Rudi stuck in the mud!
One of the times I got stuck in the mud I looked down and saw a stone with funny markings on it, I knew it was a fossil but wasn't sure what type so I took it home to identify.

It turned out to be a Lepidodendron, a part of the stem of a lycopod which is a giant clubmoss that grew to over 30m high (that’s even higher than the new elevatedhide!). The diamond shaped marks on the fossil are leaf scars.  As one of the tallest trees it would have formed the tree canopy.

But what was this doing at Parc Slip?

Well, this plant was around a long long time ago during a period of time known as the Upper Carboniferous age. These plants and others like them are responsible for the great accumulations of coal that Wales is well known for. But way back then the land at Parc Slip was not in Wales as we know it but was part of a giant landmass known as Gondwanaland which was covered with forests and swamps.

Rudi with the fossil
As the life in these forests and swamps died the sea washed sediment over it and the material was compressed to form peat. This happened over and over again and built up different layers of sediment which are known as cyclothems. As the weight of the material above built up the pressure eventually turned the peat into coal.

So next time you are wondering around Parc Slip just remember, the signs of nature are really all around you, even buried deep in the ground.