Mere Sands Wood {part Two} the Wild Flower Meadows and Woods

Visitor Centre

Mere Sands Wood Visitor centre. Photograph by D.A.L.
Mere Sands Wood Visitor centre. Photograph by D.A.L.

Notes from a Lancashire Countryman

In the first hub in this series we looked at the wild flower meadows at the Reserve and its associated wildlife. In this part I would like to invite you into the woodlands at the reserve to examine the flora, animal and bird life that occurs there.There are several marked walks at the reserve one of which is a circular boundary walk while others criss cross the woodland that allows one more opportunity to encounter the wildlife that dwells in this shady tranquility.

All of the woodland paths are quite level therefore easy to negotiate. The woodlands are composed of pine trees and the elegant, airy silver birch. Other speciesincludes oak, beech and sycamore which are dotted in various localities around the reserve.

Gallery of Trees

The beautiful bark of the silver birch. Photograph by D.A.L.
The beautiful bark of the silver birch. Photograph by D.A.L.
sycamore foliage attracts aphids that attract birds. Photograph by D.A.L.
sycamore foliage attracts aphids that attract birds. Photograph by D.A.L.
Pine tees have cones that are a favourite source of food for the squirrel.Photograph by D.A.L.
Pine tees have cones that are a favourite source of food for the squirrel.Photograph by D.A.L.
Ferns and bracken cling to the feet of trees. Photograph by D.A.L.
Ferns and bracken cling to the feet of trees. Photograph by D.A.L.
The woodland paths are wide and flat in many places. Photograph by D.A.L.
The woodland paths are wide and flat in many places. Photograph by D.A.L.

The flora

The spring land flora includes bluebell, lesser celandine,{see my hub A thousand miniature suns}, primroses and red campion. In damp clearings later in the year ragged robin sports her pink flowers from where she dwells in damp situations. Selfheal and willowherbs also join the fray during the summer months. The cool shade and humid conditions provided by the water sources help ferns to thrive giving the location a tropical splendour. The species include the male fern the broad buckler fern and bracken.

During the height of summer bracken caresses the feet of almost every tree. The bracken allows security and seclusion for many creatures. Among the Pine trees Squirrels drays are not difficult to locate as they are bulky and nestle between a bough and the main trunk of the tree. Unfortunately, in common with most of England, the native red squirrel is no longer seen.{see my hub The Plight of Squirrel Nutkins} The architects that design these dreys are the grey squirrels an introduced species from north America, which are now part and parcel of the British fauna.

Top. Selfheal Below.Greater Willowherb

SELFHEAL,may be encountered in woodland clearings. Photograph by D.A.L.
SELFHEAL,may be encountered in woodland clearings. Photograph by D.A.L.
The greater willowherb enjoys damp situations. Photograph by D.A.L.
The greater willowherb enjoys damp situations. Photograph by D.A.L.

Birds and bats

Many small birds breed at the reserve and the greater percentage are woodland species which include tree sparrow{a bird of conservation concern} robin, most members of the tit family, finches and larger corvines such as the colourful jay.

During May an early morning walk around the reserve will ensure a treat as a million feathered throats omit a million intermingling notes that make up the dawn chorus. In the not to distant past turtle doves nested in the hedgerows that divide the reserve from nearby arable land. Sadly these birds have not been recorded for the last five seasons. Many boxes are spread out which are closely monitored by staff and records are kept of breeding successes or otherwise of the occupants.

Bat boxes are also numerous and strategically placed to encourage the eight species that occur at the reserve. They offer alternative places for the bats to roost. They are constructed of wood crete a mixture of sawdust, clay and concrete. Boxes for summer use have been constructed , these are of various sizes. Two large boxes have been created to entice hibernating bats during the coldest months.

The eight species that occur here are-

The common pipistrelle- Pipistrellus pipistrellus

The Soprano pipistrelle P.pygmaeus.

Brown long-eared bat-Plecotus auritus

Daubenton's bat. Myotis daubentonii.

Whiskered bat M,mystacinus.

Brandt's bat. M.brandtii

Natterer's bat. M.natterii

Noctule bat. Nyctalus noctula. {see my hub The Plight of the British Bats}

Membranous wings of the bat

This illustration of the brown long eared bat, shows the many teeth that are harmless to humans but deal with insects efficiently.
This illustration of the brown long eared bat, shows the many teeth that are harmless to humans but deal with insects efficiently.
common pipistrelle in flight.PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF BARRACUDA
common pipistrelle in flight.PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF BARRACUDA

Bat boxes

In common with the bird boxes , the bat boxes are regularly inspected by a person with a license allowing him/her to do so. All the bats in Britain are fully protected by the law and this includes their roosts. They appear on Schedule five of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. { see my hub Wildlife and the Law schedule five species} .

All findings and relevant information are passed on to the Bat Conservation Trust.

During autumn in Particular the reserve is noted for its woodland fungi. There is a vast number of species which include the Fly Agaric, Lawyers wig,chicken of the woods and the stinkhorn. Forays are arranged at the reserve where all members of the public who is interested in the subject are allowed the opportunity to take a walk led by an expert who will identify the species for them.

Basically speaking { although it is a complex subject} fungi can be grouped in three sections . Those that live on the roots of trees Mycorrhizal, those that live on dead wood and decaying matter-Saprophytic, and those that are plant and tree destroyers-Parasitic. The fungi are an important part of the woodland ecology they dispose of much of the dead wood and decaying matter in the soil.

Fungi

Fungi come in all shapes and forms like this bracket fungi.Photograph by D.A.L.
Fungi come in all shapes and forms like this bracket fungi.Photograph by D.A.L.
Others are the more familiar shape of a mushroom.Photograph by D.A.L.
Others are the more familiar shape of a mushroom.Photograph by D.A.L.

finally

In the final hub in this series I will be exploring the series of lakes and the wild life they attract. These lakes are like a magnet to bird watchers who come in great numbers especially in the winter months.

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Comments 7 comments

D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

B, thanks again for visiting and your comments are always encouraging. L.


Joy56 profile image

Joy56 6 years ago

your articles just get better and better.....


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Hi equealla, different races/beliefs hold many different trees as holy or magical. This may be a regional or even tribal beliefs. Thank you for reading and for leaving your comments which are aways appreciated. Best wishes.

Kaie Thank you for your kind comments, glad you joined me on this walk. Best wishes to you.


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago

This was indeed a beautiful walk.......... think I'll take one now! The environment won't look like this, so I'll just have to pretend. Kaie


equealla profile image

equealla 6 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

This is just an awesome place. Just for interest, in Africa close to main villages, the trees are cut down for firewood. They will never cut a silver birch, as it is a holy tree. It is very popular for the traditional doctors, as they derive a lot of their potions from the bark and the leaves.


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Varenya Thank you for your kind and appreciated comments.


Varenya profile image

Varenya 6 years ago

Thank you D.A.L. I enjoyed greatly this walking into these beautiful wooded paths, even if it was only virtual...but the photos are truly wonderful, they render the loveliness of these places! Thanks!

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