Going for Gold

 I think that everyone that I met yesterday was agreed that it was not much of a day, so it was quite a surprise for the sun to make an appearance late in the afternoon and we were treated to the unusual sight of a rainbow on the Firehills. Shortly, along came the Coastguard helicopter and my fellow dog walkers speculated that they must be out looking for the pot of gold!

Another new bridge in Ecclesbourne Glen

A busy day today at Ecclesbourne today. Seeing 2 ESCC rights of way Land Rovers driving out I decided to go and see if I could see what they had been up to and was walking round the top of Ecclesbourne Meadow and saw 2 more 4×4’s, these belonging to the Coastguards, no doubt someone has again foolishly tried to climb the cliff and got themselves stuck (edit. a Staffie had gone over the cliff and needed rescuing, thanks Taughtus).

Another set of wheel-marks led down into the glen and going down and along the first path on the left I found this nice new bridge.

I wonder why the previous one has been replaced as it was not that old and was perfectly serviceable the last time I used it. Just needs someone now to deal with the large oak branch that is broken off and hanging over the path a bit further on. Final photo for this post is of a number of Common Red Soldier beetles on Wild Carrot, one of the plants that are now growing in the “scallops” that we cut into the blackthorn scrub surrounding Ecclesbourne Meadow.

Flying today at the Country Park

Well the sunshine recently has been great but a little too warm for walking very far, so today the easterly breeze made quite a welcome change.

My first dragonfly photo of the year has been a long time coming, I’ve seen a few but not at rest for a photo and here it is, a female Ruddy Darter, seen Warren Glen, west.

Next up is a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly which I have seen relatively few of this year, seen Warren Glen east.

Finally ZZ380, one of 2 Royal Navy Augusta Westland Wildcat helicopters that flew past Warren Glen close enough for a half decent photo. The Wildcat is apparently the replacement for the Lynx.

When Dinosaurs roamed Rye Bay

I was privileged today to have been invited to join a walk with a limited number of participants to Lee Ness to see first hand Iguanadon footprints in the rocks. The walk was organised by Andy Dinsdale who has  been organising Marine Conservation Society beach cleans locally for a number of years now (not just a litter pick as all items are categorised and recorded) and the man behind the Rye Bay Beachcoming Facebook page. Led by Ken Brooks a well known local geologist who has provided the material for an excellent display of the geology, fossils and a dinosaur footprint in the Visitor Centre  at the Country Park,  Ken told us that the footprints are only found in a layer in the cliffs known as the Lee Ness sandstone which due to a curvature in the geology called the Wealden anticline means that this sandstone layer is only above the beach for a relatively short distance.

Here is Ken looking at the footprint that he took a plaster cast of and has a fibreglass impression that he uses for his talks.

I was not expecting this, two footprints on one piece of rock!

Interesting flora on the undercliff included thrift, birds-foot trefoil, ling and oxeye daisy, plus on the beach, cormorants, a herring gull with a starfish and a male peregrine falcon flying past. A very enjoyable and informative afternoon and thanks to Andy and Ken for making it possible.

White Bluebells? Well yes and no

Yes white flowered Bluebells do occur but more often what is thought to be a white Bluebell is actually yet another wild garlic, the Three Cornered leek. In the two following photographs the first, taken in Fairlight Glen shows the Three Cornered Leek alongside a Bluebell and the second, taken on the Firehills shows both white and blue Bluebells. Look closely and you will see a subtle difference in the flowers. An easier way to be sure of which plant you are looking at is to inspect the stem because the Three cornered Leek gets its name from it’s three cornered stem whilst the Bluebell has a round stem. Both are members of the Lily family.

A walk down Brakey Bank

A walk down Brakey Bank today was rewarded with a good show of Bluebells and if you intend to visit the Park next weekend, I would highly recommend that you do the same. It runs from bollard 19 down to 18 on the Park Map and in addition to the Bluebells you can also see Ground Ivy, Wood Anemone, Lesser Celandine, Red Campion, Greater Stitchwort, Dandelion and there is some Yellow Archangel in bud, so should be out by next weekend. A trip up the steps at bollard 18 will take you past Alexanders, Ramsoms (Wild Garlic) which have just crept in from Fairlight Glen, Ribwort Plaintain and on your left at the top, Blackthorn in blossom and Germander Speedwell. There is of course Gorse in flower all over Warren Glen and with the exception of Ransoms all the other wild flowers mentioned can be found elsewhere in the glen too with the addition of Common Dog Violet which I failed to spot on Brakey Bank. I will revisit Fairlight Glen shortly to provide a similar list before Easter for those who intend intend to visit, which if the weather stays like this why not, because as it was pointed out to me today (thanks BB), in that case your Easter eggs are going to melt!

Other highlights today were a second Stonechat, this time a female in a similar location on the Firehills and a Meadow Pipit nearby plus my first Common Lizard for the site this year in Warren Glen, all of which cleverly evaded my camera so you will have to make do with this Speckled Wood.

Another Tiger seen!

Speckled Wood and Peacock butterflies about in the Park today but no Holly Blues which are quite plentiful in my garden at the moment. A very nice male Stonechat on the Firehills too. Today’s tiger being a Green Tiger Beetle as seen below also on the Firehills and a number of new burrow holes that may also be these beetles or mining bees, won’t know ’till I see whichever going in or coming out.

As you can see it has it’s elytra or wing cases partially open, yes they do fly as well as being able to jump (just when you are trying to take a photo).