Welcome to the Greenslate Water Meadows

Notes from a Lancashire Countryman

Now and again in the course of my ramblings I happen upon a diamond of a habitat-Greenslate Water meadows, is just such a sparkling location.

Welcoming sign

photograph by D.A.L.
photograph by D.A.L.

Transformed area

The land as always existed as part of the countryside and many years ago held a reservoir which was relatively narrow but of a decent length. Slowly over the years the reservoir was drained and trees were planted or allowed to grow along with other vegetation, making it a pleasant area in which to stroll. It is situated close by to arable land and is a haven for wild life.

Over the last twelve months the whole area has been transformed into a wetland area, funded jointly by the National Lottery Fund,Wigan Borough Council and the Wildlife Trust. It is in fact an extension of the Orrell Water Park,in the county of Greater Manchester {which was part of Lancashire until the boundary changes were introduced, for political reasons in the 1980s}.

It is a delightful setting to enjoy. The beauty is in its pastoral gentleness with tranquil ponds surrounded by sentinels of reeds and regiments of sedge, which form a seclusion to each one of them. Each of the ponds are interconnected by narrow water channels that meander through the vegetation in a continuation of the wetland theme.

It is a creation of life and beauty, it soothes and stimulates, it is a thing of simplicity, Idyllic , yet so effective in its aim to attract wildlife to its confines. In the relative cool of the morning I commenced my visit, as cool lemon sun rays twinkled on the water of the ponds and channels,which were soft unruffled and calm.

looking through the tall stems of the sturdy sedge I observed on of the most elusive of our water birds-the water rail. It was but a glance {often this is all that is afforded to the observer} as it tip toed in and out of the vegetation where he loves to dwell, he resorts to places of seclusion, and how he harmonises with the places of his choice. The plumage is of a brown colour, streaked with black above, with grey on the cheeks and breast, its flanks and belly are barred black and white. Its relatively long bill is red tipped with brown. Its long legs give it a miniature heron like appearance.

the elusive Water rail

The elusive water rail. Photograph courtesy of Marek Szczepanek.
The elusive water rail. Photograph courtesy of Marek Szczepanek.

Among the Thistles

Among the thistles the tinkling call of a goldfinch attracted my attention. I always consider it a privilege to encounter this colourful bird at this time of the year. Later in the season they will form small flocks known as charms that will roam the countryside as one as they quest for the seeds of thistle and teasel.

Gold finch

This beautiful photograph of the gold finch is courtesy of M.P.F.
This beautiful photograph of the gold finch is courtesy of M.P.F.

Another privilege

Another privilege was bestowed on me this fine morning by way of the spotted flycatcher, a summer visitor to our shores. This species does not aspire as a songster but is regarded as being a most useful insect taker. He takes little sorties from his favoured perch in order to take the insect from the air, then he returns with his gain to his original starting point. The number of insects taken by this bird and those of his ilk is incalculable.

This charming member of the feathered fraternity needs to be sought out as he his another secretive bird. The insignificant of his brown and whitish garb is only broken by his spotted breast from which the bird takes its common name. A dragonfly hovering with invisible wings over the water lilies soon darted off , lost in the sunlight to my view. This brought to mind a verse from Walter Savage Landor I will share with you.

"Life {priest and poet say } is but a dream;

I wish no happier one than to be laid

Beneath a cool syringa's scented shade,

or wavy willow, by the running stream,

Brimful of moral, where the dragon-fly,

Wanders as careless and content as I.

The wild flora that tenant this watery kingdom are also a delight for the countryman to study and to behold. The spearwort is a wetland member of the buttercup family, and sports large buttercup like flowers. It takes its name from the spear-shaped foliage which are arranged in twos and threes. The basal leaves are long stalked and simple{not toothed}. The flowers are borne singly in loose clusters the flower being 1-2 cm wide. The five petals form an open saucer like shape.

Gallery

Spearwort enhances marginal locations. Photograph by D.A.L.
Spearwort enhances marginal locations. Photograph by D.A.L.
The tall spires of purple loosestrife are a joy to see. Photograph by D.A.L.
The tall spires of purple loosestrife are a joy to see. Photograph by D.A.L.
Yellow loosestrife also abounds in this location. Photograph by D.A.L.
Yellow loosestrife also abounds in this location. Photograph by D.A.L.
New "flowers" on the bullrush.Photograph by D.A.L.
New "flowers" on the bullrush.Photograph by D.A.L.

Loosestrifes

Purple and yellow loosestrife enhance the margins growing among the grasses and reeds. From a distance the spires produced by the purple loosestrife have a superficial resemblance to those of rosebay willowherb. However, closer observation of this beautiful plant reveals salient differing features, from the common willowherb.

The stems are erect and ridged and are capable of reaching the height of 70-150cm. The stem is adorned with foliage that are arranged in whorls {rings} of three below which are stalkless but in opposite pairs above. The stem branches towards the top, bearing layers of flowers, themselves arranged in tight whorls of about 6 flowers per whole. Each flower has five narrow petals. The flowers are 1.5 cm wide and of a lovely reddish-purple colour.

The yellow loosestrife is capable of attaining the same height as the former species and the flower spikes can be equally impressive. This species has its common name suggests have 5 yellow petals which are often tinged with an orangey colour at their bases that form the center of the flower. The lance shaped foliage are often dotted with black or orange coloured glands and have a bluish-green tinge on the underside. They are arranged in the manner of the former species.

Water mint foliage was in evidence, however, a return journey would be required to encounter them in flower. Bullrushe's with their new flower heads stand tall in the margins of the many individual ponds. The green berries of Guelder rose are forming as are those of the white beam both will be bright red by the time autumn steals in dewy footed.

The hazel was also developing her fruits and bramble flowers have given way to the hard green fruits that will blacken and become softer and edible within a few short weeks. I spent a couple of hours at this location and have made a mental note to revisit this site more often to observe the changing seasons and the wildlife each one has to offer. Thank you for reading.

Gallery-2

Guelder rose forming the green fruits. Photograph by D.A.L.
Guelder rose forming the green fruits. Photograph by D.A.L.
Mimulus flowers by the pond side.Photograph by D.A.L.
Mimulus flowers by the pond side.Photograph by D.A.L.
Whitebeam foliage and fruits forming . Photograph by D.A.L.
Whitebeam foliage and fruits forming . Photograph by D.A.L.
Hazel is forming her fruits.Photograph by D.A.L.
Hazel is forming her fruits.Photograph by D.A.L.

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Comments 10 comments

D.A.L. profile image

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

Hi SilverGenes, your welcome glad you could join me. Thank you for your appreciated comments. Best Wishes.


SilverGenes 6 years ago

Thank you for another wonderful walk through the marshland. The photos are beautiful and I always feel so refreshed after reading your hubs.

It's nice to know all that lottery money is being put to good use :)


D.A.L. profile image

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

Suni51 you are welcome. I will be over to see more of your great hubs soon. Best wishes to you.

Peggy, thank you too, for reading and for taking the time to leave your kind comments. Peggy coming from you who produces wonderfully descriptive hubs with beautiful photographs thats quite a compliment. Best wishes to you..

Jandee, nice to meet you. I spend a lot of my childhood years and a great part of my adult life around the area of "Carr Mill Dam" and its environs. The Green Slate Water Meadows are but a few miles away. Best wishes to you.


jandee profile image

jandee 6 years ago from Liverpool.U.K

Hello D.A.L,

so nice to see my favourite W.H.Davies on your profile!Bet you well know 'Carr Mill Dam'on East lancs....

Lovely words 'cool lemon sun rays twinkled on the water of the ponds'WOW !! enjoyed very much,jandee


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

Journeying with you into natural settings (or recreated ones in this case) is always such a pleasure. Enjoyed your descriptions and the wonderful photos that you included in this hub. Thanks!


suny51 profile image

suny51 6 years ago

Hi D,A.L.

In fact I saw and admired them yesterday also but as the photos were not on display,may be because i did not click see all photos,but your comment brought me back here and can only write that every thing is as grand as they come and request you to see mine last one.Thank you for showing so many beautiful plants and birds.


D.A.L. profile image

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

Tony,Thankyou for reading and for taking the time to comment. If I inspire you to read your book I am happy. Hope you enjoy it. Best wishes.

Darski, you are welcome on my rambles at any time. I am glad this has lifted your spirits. Your fan and friend always. Love and best wishes.

Yard, You are so right about alien species. We have problems over here in our water ways with Canadian pondweed and other introductions. Purple loosestrife is not a problem in our waterways. Best wishes.


Yard of nature profile image

Yard of nature 6 years ago from Michigan

Another fine effort. I smiled at the picture of the purple loosestrife. A pretty wetlands plant, here in Michigan extensive efforts are underway to try to eradicate it as it is not a native plant here and it is taking over too many estuaries and riverside and lakeside marshes. Everyone loves the way it looks, but ...


Darlene Sabella profile image

Darlene Sabella 6 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

My dear friend, you are so lucky to see and appreciate this awesome place, I love the water as it gives life to all it touches. Your pictures are a wonderful way to take us there, walking with you in the water park, thank you for filling my heart. Love you and your hubs, rate up and the above....


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa

I love this kind wof writing and the photos! Nature is such a wonderful source of inspiration. I have a copy of Jacquetta Hawkes's book "A Land" which I have benen meaning to read for years and haven't quite gotten around to. Maybe I should do that soon. Your writing is inspiring me!

Love and peace

Tony

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