Spring Flower Walk a Success, What’s Next?

Spring Flower Walk a Success, What’s Next?

Steve Hallam led a hugely successful Spring Flower Walk yesterday.  An unprecedented 47 turned up to view the blooms and help the Keep The Bell Ringing appeal.  Steve reports (click images to view larger):

Purple Orchid in Hillhouse Wood

Orchids at First Stop

The first stop was to show everyone the Early Purple orchids, which were at their peak around the upper pond.  We estimated that over fifty flower spikes were on view, which is wonderful when you think that a couple of decades ago there were only half a dozen.  I took the opportunity to point out, and describe, Lesser celandine, Wood anemones, Greater Stitchwort and Lady’s smock.

Lesser Celandine in Hillhouse WoodWalking down the hill towards the stream we found some early flowering Yellow archangel, but the Nightingales were disappointingly silent.  At the bottom the Wild garlic flowers were at their best, with their ‘distinctive bouquet’.  We walked along to the lower pond, with my idea being to show everyone the vista of Bluebells up the slope.  This did not disappoint, but thanks to some eagle eyes (not mine) we came across something unexpected: a swarm of bees hanging from a branch over our heads.  This was just in front of the bat hibernaculum, so perhaps this was the bees that had been found when this was recently inspected.  ThiWild Garlic in Hillhouse Woods was a great example of nature’s beguiling ability to surprise.

A Nightingale Sung

Walking on past the pond some of us were able to hear a few sporadic phrases of a half hearted Nightingale song, but unfortunately he ran out of puff before the latter half of the group could arrive.  Continuing up the slope we came to the main area of Bluebells.  Members of the group who were new to the wood commented that they had not previously seen such a large expanse.

Bluebells in Hillhouse WoodI carried on a little further, to where there is a lovely area covered by a carpet of Lesser celandines alongside a little stream.  We then wound our way to the only part of the wood where Wood sorrel can be found – its flowers are very similar to those of Wood anemone, but the leaves are very different. Returning back through the Bluebells, we came to a second stream that has the grandly named Alternate-leaved Golden Saxifrage growing on its banks.  However the flower does not live up to its billing, being one of the more innocuous flowers, and very easy to overlook.

By now the sun had come out to play, and out of the wind the conditions were pleasantly warm.  We pottered contentedly back to the church, with lots of animated conversations underway.  Many of the group headed off to the church for tea and cakes, which may well have been the highlight of the afternoon!

Keep the Bell Ringing

As well as the 47 attending Steve’s walk, the Friends of St Mary’s refreshments attracted over 100 walkers into the church raising over £200 in donations so another step closer.

Dawn Chorus Next!

Steve’s next outing will be starting a little earlier in the day.  If you want your day to be ‘sung in’ by around 20 different species of birdlife then you will want to be at the Old Church at 3:45am on Sunday 7th May.

See and hear Nightingales in full song along with many of the following birds heard and/or seen in previous years’ walks:

  • Tawny Owl.
  • Whitethroat.
  • Robin.
  • Blackbird.
  • Wren.
  • Pheasant.
  • Rook.
  • Wood Pigeon.
  • Blackcap.
  • Blue Tit.
  • Chaffinch.
  • Canada Goose.
  • Chiffchaff.
  • Goldcrest.
  • Mallard.
  • Jackdaw.
  • Great Tit.
  • Buzzard.
  • Green Woodpecker.
  • Greater Spotted Woodpecker.

You are advised to bring warm clothing, stout footwear, a flask of hot drink and a torch.

Find out more about the Friends of Hillhouse Wood or St Mary’s Old Church by clicking the links.

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