Carbon Landscape Chat Moss
Saturday 7th March 2020 (8am to 2pm)
Author & Images: David Steel
Zip-a-dee-doo- dah, Zip-a-Dee-ay!
My oh my, what a wonderful day!
.... yes it was that time of the year when the Carbon Landscape volunteers head out onto Chat Moss clipboards brimming with forms, pencils sharpened at the ready with eyes and ears trained to pick up every nuance of bird activity out upon this splendid landscape.
Irlam station played host to our saunter onto the moss and promised shelter and a cuppa or two... ONCE the ‘mere effort’ of Bimbling about in the breeze for three hours had taken place out upon our open air classroom, which today was in a benign sort of mood only showering the team with birdsong and sunny breaks in the cloud as opposed to last year when it was in a tippling buckets of H2O mood.
A brief wander east along Liverpool Road then soon led us to the sound of squabbling House Sparrow, fidgety Goldfinch and the enthusiastic outpourings of a Song Thrush which was now fully intent upon spring.
Astley Road our gateway to the moss tried to allow sneak views of the square we were to cover today on this training session but soon gave up its hold upon the Team as ‘Route 66’, as I call this road, hosted enough cars to worry our health and safety officer.
We therefore pushed on and landed at a quiet Right of Way along which only the wind could travel a... a mild discomfort which was ignored with ease especially as we were greeted by three Yellowhammer one of which came closer to check us out as we, in turn, checked out this bright Male whose territory this section of the path is with its tumble of bramble and rough vegetation, this bird's ideal habitat.
A saunter westward led us to an ideal spot too pause and ponder the ponderous (only joking Steve) paperwork that tries to capture each shift in the habitat that the dictionary of the Carbon Landscape (a vast tome) can come up with... it was time to scribble... and scribble we obediently did.
Skylark soothed our furrowed brows with their pure song of the heavens inducing a calm rhythm to our note making and once this first step in Habitat recording was successfully achieved an intermission was taken whilst our human ‘Shep’.. (Blue Peter fans of a certain age may get this cultural reference) wandered the adjacent silage field and flushed a dozen Snipe and two Jack Snipe... this disturbance gaining important records for the GMEU/GMBRG thus nothing wasted.
The next field presented a habitat change for here lay a winter sown cereal crop which owing to the poor weather this past winter had not reached any significant height... hallelujahs rang out from our gathering--- why was this one might ask?
Well this field was hosting thirty four Lapwing which were on territory and planning upon nesting very soon and as the crop was still short it suited their needs to a ‘T’... for this is how they like to start their four weeks incubation period of their eggs... in this period they can see what might be attempting to prey upon them.
Then after the young hatch and they need cover...well hey presto the crop would, by then, be tall enough to hide these fluff balls of delight.
Larks ‘dilly dallied’ about the area in their pre breeding season battles for territories whilst a pale faced Buzzard quietly sat waiting for the next worm to wander by and as we didn’t quite fit its bill of fare we too meandered further westward gaining New Moss Road before long.
Here our eyes and ears were distracted by a Goldcrest or two, one of which was testing the audible limits of a few of our party as it gave out high pitched its rusty bike wheel song.
Eyes were then cast about the nearby farmland but at this stage in order to avoid a mutiny no questions were posed about what level of habitat these fields were hosting instead all admired a Song Thrush which was feeding upon a Sward of turf... this is actually a light aeroplanes landing strip... who said there was no money in Irlam and Cadishead.
New Moss Wood then invited us to view its none farmland whilst in the field opposite a healthy flock of at least 150 Redwing caught our attention which was in truth now erring upon the bewitching hour of lunch... yes it was time to retrace our steps.
Astley Road reached the inevitable Team Photo taken and all lightly stepped back to the Station.
Hot drinks, a bit of relaxed conversation and a well earned rest were obtained with ease but as with all good things this then came to an end when the school bell called all back from playtime.
A double lesson of trigonometry then followed casting more knowledge into eager minds which in truth were ready to label that angle as acute (H), right angled (P) or obtuse (ON)... the breeding season, as in music, expressed in maths... we live in a wonderful world of nature... we came together to record and celebrate it through the Carbon Landscape... from the ashes of industrialisation we still Phoenix like rise to record and celebrate and encourage its survivors.
As for me a day well spent in good company.