Bluebell Walk

Bluebell walk 23rd April 2024

Eight of us set off on a grey damp morning with a very cold breeze but we were soon rewarded with some unexpected early flowers in bloom.  Ransoms could be smelt even before we left Ford car park and soon after that celandine, wood anemones, and some bluebells. A few yards on cow parsley, ladies smock, creeping buttercups and some bistort was just showing spikes blushed with pink.  A few well-developed Arun lilies  shaded their bulbus spikes and beautiful to see was the witch hazel in full blossom contrasting with the delicate green of young beech leaves.   Before long we came across a group of cowslips and one eagle eyed person saw a couple of leaves of a spotted orchid. Throughout, vistas of swathes of bluebells were a real picture, although some did comment that because ransoms were so abundant this should be a ransom walk.. Birds were in song the whole time but of note was nuthatch and a kingfisher skimming up the Moss. All in all, a good introduction to spring.

Our native English bluebells are under threat by imported Spanish bluebells and the difference is easy to spot:

Spanish bluebells have flowers all around the stem, English flower on one side thus have a dropping head

Petals on each flower flare open at the end, English curl.

Spanish are more robust with wide leaves, English narrow leaves and slender stems

Spanish tend to be pale blue, white even pink, English Deep purple blue

Spanish have no scent, English have a delicate sweet aroma

Spanish like sun and open spaces, English shady areas

Spanish flowers lift their heads towards the sun, English don’t

Spanish have a blue stamen, English white to yellow

Fungi Walk

This is planned for 5th November 2024 to be led by Michael Senkans (Ziggy) venue to be advised

All newcomers are very welcome to join in our events in the Moss Valley.

These are of three different kinds: social walks, recording walks, and conservation working days. Please dress accordingly and bring a packed lunch unless stated otherwise. Please also note that all participation is at own risk, according to your own assessment, as we do not provide insurance cover.

For the social walks, we almost always have a Bluebell Walk in late April or early May, sometimes an Autumn Walk in September or October, and sometimes a Winter Walk in early January.

These are posted well in advance on this page of our website, and emailed to all who have asked to be included on our contact list. This also applies to any short-notice changes of plan, usually because of bad weather. All are welcome to turn up on the day, but letting us know in advance is helpful to the organiser and enables us to update you. Children under 16 should be accompanied by an adult with responsibility for them. Dogs are welcome but should be on a lead and under control throughout the event.

Our recording walks take place roughly fortnightly from late April to early November, and are different in several ways from the social walks. Their only purpose is to monitor every kind of species in order to keep our almost forty-year record of the Valley’s wildlife as up to date as we can. We also send our records in to the central database held by the Sheffield Biological Records Centre.

Numbers have to be limited, and dogs cannot be brought along, so as not to disturb wild birds and animals before we have had a chance to see them. On the other hand, more sharp eyes and ears mean more records, especially of species which are easily overlooked. We therefore aim for a minimum of four if possible, and rarely go above eight. For reasons of weather and people’s availability, final decisions about date and place usually have to be confirmed with only a very few days’ notice.

So if you have sharp eyes or ears, and especially if you are confident about identifying certain types of species, please email Oliver via our Contacts page if you would like to be put on the recording-walks email list (saying whether you are happy to be on the open To list or would prefer your address to be Bcc’d). We will then consult you about which dates you can and cannot manage, and email you about when and where each recording walk will be when decided. Details are only provided to those already on the recording walks email list, not via our website.

We also sometimes ask other organisations to do a recording walk in the Valley, especially Sorby Natural History Society. These have their own arrangements, and are usually advertised to their members via the monthly Sorby Newsletter. (We strongly encourage people to join this excellent, hundred-year-old society). We notify recording-walk supporters by email, and try to keep our Events page up to date with the details of any Sorby or other events of relevance to the Moss Valley.

As regards conservation work, we currently need volunteers to help us clear bramble roots and bracken from a sapling-invaded wildflower meadow near Lightwood Lane, and bramble and gorse-stump roots from a neighbouring scrub-invaded meadow. Both of these meadows are part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a national designation, for its unusually rich variety of flowers and other kinds of wildlife.

We look forward to hearing from you and meeting you. We also welcome your own records of interesting wildlife sightings. Please email these (with sharp photos if possible) to Oliver via the Contacts page, giving the date, and with location details down to the nearest 100 metres if at all possible.