These blogs chart the ever-changing landscape, flora and fauna, of the Strinesdale Nature Reserve in Oldham, Greater Manchester.
Saturday, 14 April 2018
May 2018 -- Pied wagtail and the common primrose
Up to now this spring has been largely devoid of pleasant weather. The
rain, the bitter cold and lack of sunlight have made one long for change.
At the farthest end of the R.S.P.C.A centre grows a fine colony of the
common primrose (Primula vulgaris) some plants having spread into the small
United Utilities facility next door. This humble flower has over many years
been developed by hybridisers into a variety of brightly coloured forms, and
yet the pale yellow original has a simplicity and charm which for centuries has
held the attention of poets and artists. The primrose once grew in some
profusion in the countryside and a late Victorian book on wild flowers tells of
the plant’s popularity among people displaced by the industrial revolution. ‘Great
numbers of the roots are transported each spring into London and other large
towns, and in many a back street and squalid alley the pot of primroses is a
link between the present and the past, and recalls many an association with the
bygone days to those whose lot now confines them to very different
As peace and quietness become ever more difficult to find, local
reservoir sites offer tranquillity and stillness. On a dull morning recently I
was walking by Denshaw reservoirs, the all-pervading greyness seeming to subdue
any sense of colour, when a black and white bird landed on the fence. It was a
Pied Wagtail — not a species to attract attention when pecking around on the
ground — but in the misty light it appeared smart and interesting like a good
The upper reservoir there is indeed a tranquil spot and a
venerable Sycamore tree slightly overhangs the water. Still bare of leaves it
looked beautiful. The pitted trunk, plastered with moss and lichen looks as if
it would fit perfectly into a Japanese temple garden. Walking back to the road
it was reassuring to hear the rolling call of the Curlew and as the sun briefly
shone a skylark burst into song.
The common small birds of Strinesdale are now very
active, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Dunnock etc., and after such a vicious blast as
the Beast from the East one wonders what their survival strategies are. Today I
was pleased to hear (for me) the first Blackcap of spring.