Wildlife


As the sun is shining I decided to go and spend some time down by the river. It’s a quiet

spot with a path running for about 600 metres alongside the river Tame. I have been there a few times and love it as it’s peaceful and tranquil, gives me time to reflect, come up with new ideas and just chill out. Back in September 2010 The Telegraph newspaper asked the question: “Is The English Countryside The Most Beautiful?” I have to say yes to that. Nearby where I live is the oldest National Park on earth, The Peak District National Park. We have some of this planets most beautiful areas of natural beauty topped up by stunning wildlife and people prepared to keep our green and pleasant land just that.

I sat on one of the benches and looked around, nothing and no one around, only the birds singing their warning calls to each other from their favourite trees. A warning to others to stay off their territory, but to us mere humans a song of beauty, tranquillity and peaceful with its melodramatic mesmerising tones.

I walked down to the river which is only thirty or so feet away. The murky brown

waters of the River Tame ran silently and quickly, following a path cut by countless hundreds of years of water coming down from the nearby hills. Its currents sweep away debris as it follows the route cleansing the water, banksides and ground over which it travels. Two plants are busying themselves along the bankside and now displaying their yellows, purples and candy pinks. I took some pictures which you can see, they looked stunning with the river as a backdrop.

I looked down at the water’s edge. Last time I was here frogs were close to the bank probably looking for nesting spots as now they have been replaced by their offspring. The tadpoles hugged the shoreline of the river in water only just deep enough for them to swim in. They know by instinct if they venture into deeper darker water they are at risk of being swept away in the silent but deadly current. Another problem awaits them in the murky depths, predators lie in wait in every nook and cranny waiting for them and other prey should they venture into their territory.

I walked back and sat on the bench, it seems I am not the only one to use this bench for on the floor are discarded parts of a needle, wrapping and a spoon. I presume that whoever was here had been using heroin or something, what do I know? I know nothing about drugs and their effects, I have enough trouble taking prescribed drugs. Still it’s a sad sign of the times when a place of such beauty is used for something sinister.

Not to be deterred I sit down look and listen to the events around me. No sign of human’s anywhere and that pleases me, I prefer to be alone in situations like this as I can relax and really enjoy the splendours our countryside affords us. I watch as a bee busies itself going from flower to flower to collect the life giving pollen that will sustain them and their colonies. 1 in particular catches my eyes as it’s only small but clumsily flies from flower to flower with huge golden orange sacks of pollen attached to its thin legs. It lands on a flower and descends inside. The weight of the bee is too much for the flower and it starts to bend downwards towards the earth as if trying to discard the overweight bee the only way it can. As the bee clumsily flies off, probably back to the hive, the flower shoots back upwards and once again faces the sun where it can bask in the glorious warm rays.

In the air above me house martins fly majestically through the air playing catch me if you can with one another. Their rasping calls shatter the silent still air around me forcing me to look skywards. I watch is awe and glee as these wonderful birds perform their magnificent, majestic movements with ease. They are such wonderful fliers and I can watch them all day, but, sadly it’s time for me to go. I walk past a beautiful wild rose and snap a few

more pictures before hobbling off back home. My hip is killing me as I walk the few hundred metres home, but it can’t wipe away the wonderful hour I have just had by the side of

the River Tame.

Branta canadensis

Take a walk along any of the UK’s waterways, be it river, lake, reservoir or canal and you are sure to see a bird standing tall against all overs, that is the Canada goose. It’s the largest of all our geese standing at 100cm when an adult. Complete with a 6 foot wingspan and you can see why this goose is the largest of our geese, although its origins stem from North America hence the name, Canada goose.

Royal Approval

The Canada goose is thought to have been introduced to Britain around 1660 by the then King, Charles II. He introduced them to his already large wildfowl collection at St James Park in London. The birds, now having the Royal approval quickly became a common sight throughout England where one could see them from village ponds to

lakes.

Plumage

The Canada goose is a heavy bird with a brownish/grey plumage. They have a long

black neck and head with a white band running under the chin. These geese can live for 20 years in the wild and always mate for life. There are thought to be over 80,000 birds in the UK with more Canada Geese found in parts of Scandinaviain particular Sweden, Denmark and some parts of Norway.

Nesting

The Canada goose lay between 2-8 eggs in a nest made from down, reeds and grass. They build the nest close to the water’s edge but sheltered from the elements by bushes or reeds. If there’s an island on the water then you will always find Canada Geese nesting on there as it’s a favourite place for them to nest. Telling the difference between male and female is quite difficult as they exhibit the same coloration and build.

Diet

Their diet consists of grasses, aquatic plants, roots, and seeds. They tend to eat in shallow water but if food is available onshore like fields they will gather and feed freely there. They will easily muscle out smaller birds especially if humans are feeding them bread, seeds etc. Canadian Geese can be quite aggressive too especially if you are close to their nest and will chase people away.

Other Characteristics Other characteristics of the Canada goose include forming noisy flocks especially forming nurseries for the young. They fly in the typical goose V formation although the Canada Geese in the UK don’t migrate. In some parts of the country they have become a pest. They will intermingle with other geese including the Barnacle goose, and interbreeding has taken place.

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As the weather was warm last weekend I decided to go for a small walk down to the local river. There’s a small path that runs alongside the River Tame for about 600 metres so I thought I would go there and look around. The sun was blazing and although not

summer yet it certainly felt like it as the birds, singing their summer songs were flying from tree to tree, butterflies were darting around looking for flowers which were open so they could have their fill of nectar, the life giving substance that will keep them going till more blooms are fully open. A blackbird, startled by my silent approach suddenly flew from it’s perch in one of the trees, warned the others nearby by it’s high pitched shrill. It’s flight looked erratic as it flew across the river to the safety of the other bank where it could regain it’s composure. Then suddenly another bird song. A song I haven’t heard since late last year when these birds migrated South to warmer climates. A rasping, wonderful sound as they announced their arrival, flying around the river in search of a snack probably after such a long distance they

were hungry, well who wouldn’t be. I looked skywards and saw them, small black specs at first then they came down from their lofty heights and I smiled as they darted along the river easily picking off insects in flight. Yes summer is here I said to myself and

smiled. Not quite I know but when I see the first House Martins of the year I always say summer’s here.

I sat down on 1 of the bench’s and admired the scenery around me. All around were trees and shrubs all starting to show their majesty as they began to produce their leaves. In front was the river itself,  the River Tame with fast moving crystal clear water. Small fish began jumping out of the water as if trying to evade a larger predator underneath caught my eye. They skirted around the overhanging branches trying desperately to escape the hidden danger, I didn’t see anything but something certainly spooked them.

All around me was quiet, no cars or people just the birds singing in the trees and in the sky. The odd train passed by, their wheels clattering against the rails on the old viaduct taking their passengers to their destinations. Passengers, looking out from within their cool compartments, seemed to admire the sudden change in scenery and I could see the odd face straining to see the scenery as the train continued on towards its final destination. I too looked around and smiled as I had left the hustle and bustle of everyday life and quietly sat on the banks of the river taking in the sun and scenery.

Summer isn’t quite here here in the UK just yet but the recent good weather is turning everyone’s thoughts to summer, mine included.

With the recent spell of warm weather some members of Ridgehill Angling have been Chayy Dam, Ridgehill Angling's new homebusy cleaning up and making The Chads a more beautiful place to fish and walk around, rather than doing a spot of fishing. They had a new sign delivered which was promptly fixed on the largest island yesterday by Simon and Carl a.k.a. Carp King Carl. It meant wading out in waist deep water to

reach the island, oh and to evade the protective male Canadian Goose which had a nest on the island, with the female sitting on a clutch of eggs. She sat on her eggs quite unperturbed by the commotion on the island but kept an eye out just in case. The lads, knowing she had a clutch of eggs where careful and as quiet as they could so as not to disturb her too much. The wildlife on Chadwick dam is as important to the members as the fishing, and the last thing they wanted was to disturb her too much.

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Gems are hard to come by especially when it comes to lakes for fishing on. But there is one out there and it’s called Chadwick or “Chaddy” Dam. Originally the lake belonged to Chadwick’s factory along with the boating lake which is next to the dam. In fact both Chaddy’s dam and the boating lake were one lake but when the land was brought by Stalybridge and Ashton Under Lyne towns in 1891, an embankment was built to separate and make one lake into two.

The dam itself has been left to its own devices and fell into disrepair over the years although trees, shrubs and plants have all thrived creating an oasis for the wildlife which includes many bird species like Mallard and Canadian Geese, with the

latter nesting during the summer on the two islands which sit neatly in the middle of the lake. The dam itself was filled with all sorts of rubbish people threw in over the years, and that turned a beautiful lake into an eyesore especially for residents living nearby. During the summer kids swam the lake which probably wasn’t a good idea due to the underwater hazards lurking underneath which included shopping trolleys and cars.

People did fish the dam though. In fact I fished it many times during my youth and caught many many crucian carp on a float and delicious sweet corn tempting those golden coloured fighters into submission. There was never any one peg which seemed to be better than the others so fishing Chadwick Dam was always an experience.

There

were other fish in the murky waters of the Chads including roach, bream, perch and of course pike and carp. It was the carp which were the hardest to catch and no one never quiet knew what lay hidden underneath, until recently.

Recently the local council have given a small and enthusiastic band of anglers the opportunity to lease it. They run it with enthusiasm and hope, hope that their dreams pay off and they turn a great fishing lake into one of the best in the country and the members come flooding in.

Ridgehill Angling Club is a small club with just one lake, Chadwick Dam. Formed in 2007, the people in charge, Simon, Stephen, Sean and Rob want the dam to be a starting point for young and old anglers alike. They regularly hold meetings where new members are welcomed with open arms. They do a lot for the young ones around the area and have even taken them fishing in France which was a great success for everyone involved. But running a club like Ridgehill Angling Club isn’t easy. They have had to go through many hoops in order to get where they are today, which by the way is a wonderful lake packed full of fish including carp of all weights. In fact the biggest, a 23lb mirror called Trigger was recently caught for the very first time. It’s a wonderful, healthy looking fish and was caught recently by Neil Allen.

The members started by removing all the rubbish from the lake itself and surrounding

area. They then built new pegs around the lake making it safe for people to fish. The lake was then netted which gave the staff a good idea of what fish where in the dam and how healthy they were. Planting trees and other fauna have also improved the area around the chads and turned this little gem once more into a great fishing spot.

Ridgehill Angling Club has a membership scheme and is open to anyone young or old, experienced or someone never having fished before. If you come along to fish for the day then there are day tickets available from the bank. The staff all take lots of their own time to educate the young and not so old on the basics of fishing including tackling up, hook tying and the safe handling of the fish they catch. When they can the staff arrange fishing competitions and days out to other lakes, canals and rivers in the UK and France and these trips have been a great success.

The club has a Facebook page:

http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/group.php?gid=153646994655545

And a website:

http://ridgehillanglingclub.org.uk/

There’s a wealth of information on the pages including videos and pictures so go check them out.

If you are looking for a hidden gem where the wildlife is abundant and the fishing great then why not come along? Day tickets are available on the bank but why not take out a membership? All the information you need is on the noticeboards on the dam itself. The lake caters for different types of fishing too including carping, pike fishing and bit bashing so no matter what type of fisherman you are why not give Chadwick dam a whirl? There’s a hidden gem waiting to be explored.

See you there and tight lines!!

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I am fortunate enough to live in a part of the UK that is very beautiful. That area of Britain is in the North West and is called Stalybridge. We are lucky in that a 20 minute car journey can take you to the wonders of the Peak District along with Dovestones and Indian Head.

We have everything from rivers winding their way through the towns on their way to the sea to wilderness and wildlife that is second to none. In fact this place is a place where one can see the Arctic Hare with it’s white coat in winter. They are not a native to the area but were probably introduced during the Victorian era for people to hunt. We have hills, gorges, canals, lakes and reservoir’s all around us that are perfect for that summer walk or ramble where you can become one with the nature around you.

These pictures were taken as I walked along the reservoirs’ in Brushes. At the top there’s 2 paths 1 leading to Carrbrook and the other into Hadfield.

I Took the Wildlife and Surrounding Natural Beauty for Granted

When I returned from Sweden I decided to get out and about once again like I did many years ago with my dad. We would spend hours just walking and looking for the wildlife hiding in the wonderful heather that is all around. As I got older all that went by the wayside until I went to Sweden and realised that not only does Sweden have wonderful wildlife but most of the animals and insects I saw were also resident in the UK. Over the years I had taken it all for granted and never went out walking or bird watching, not even with the kids when they were growing up. Now that is bad as I think kids should be given every opportunity to get out and about into the countryside and see for themselves just how wonderfully diverse and beautiful it is.

I Made Myself a Promise When I Returned

That promise was to get out and about and that is what I have done when I can. Starting off in December when the snow was lying all around us I went and took pictures of the Huddersfield Canal. Now this canal is over 200 years old, is 20 miles long and has

something like 74 locks. It runs from Ashton Under Lyne in Tameside all the way to Huddersfield in West Yorkshire. At one time the canal was an important route for the industries that were all around here, but building the canal would be hard work and involve building a tunnel which would be over 3 miles long and the longest canal boat tunnel in Britain. Over the years as steam power took a grip on the country the canal fell into disrepair and some parts were eventually filled in and built on. Then in 1974 an idea was turned into a reality when plans were drawn up to re-open the canal. In 2001 the canal was finally open but not before some excellent engineering feats were achieved including digging out the canal straight through Stalybridge and in particular Armentieres Square. Over the years a bus station then car park were built on the square leaving little or no sign of the canal that once ran through the square. That all changed and now it’s a wonderful scenic part of Stalybridge.

I love to walk this canal as it’s peaceful and you can see all types of wildlife. I walk from Ashton to Stalybridge quite a lot as I have family there and every time I walk along the canal there’s always something new to see.

The following pics were taken in Dec 2010/Jan 2011 as mentioned.

The canal once it reaches it’s end actually joins another canal, the Ashton Canal which links Ashton to Manchester.

Along the way you come across many canal boats like the ones below.

They are lovely don’t you think? I have never been on a narrow boat, maybe 1 day I will get the chance.

This is just 1 place I love to walk and I hope you enjoyed reading about it. As the weather improves I have lots more walks and rambles I intend to go on and want to blog about them. As you can see the area where I live is beautiful so it would be a travesty not too wouldn’t it?

Around where I live in Sweden there’s nothing but woods and forests and this is perfect for all kinds of animals including moose (elk) and deer to roam peacefully without human’s bothering them. I have seen a few deer since coming here although never a buck, only kids and females. As for a moose, well I am beginning to think they are the stuff of legends! Never, ever seen one in the wild!

This time of year all the hunters around here are getting ready for the oncoming season. It means they start to have practice sessions and fine tune their rifles in the woods nearby, they also build hides and hunting platforms which I guess they will use once the season is upon us.

Hunting Guide.

The hunting season itself in Sweden is a little varied depending on which species you want to hunt.

Roe Deer: The hunting season starts in August when you can hunt for the bucks then from today, 01st October you can hunt for all Roe Deer.

Moose (Elk): The hunting season for moose varies too. In Northern Sweden the season has already started as it starts in September, the South started today, 01st October.

There are many different species of animals and birds you can hunt for in Sweden including Grouse, Capercaillie (which is a kind of Grouse), Hazel Hen and then animals like the Bear and Beaver. Sweden did have a Wolf cull last year, 2009, which courted much controversy. In fact they now have to re-import Wolves from other countries as they shot most of their own.

Can Anyone Hunt?

To hunt in Sweden is not really easy to do but visitors can go on a hunt if they hold a hunters permit and have insurance. You must not go it alone rather use a hunting co-operative or go with another hunter. There are many laws when hunting so it pays to take advice before you do anything. 

 

Anyway we were out walking a few days ago and saw a well hidden hide in the corner of the field. Now when hunters build these stands they are well constructed but basic with no coverage on it and certainly not hidden, this 1, well.

As you can see from the following pictures most are rather crudely made although they are sturdy enough. They also seem to build them anywhere although I am sure they only put them up if an animal has been sighted. I’m not an hunter so I am guessing.

 

 

 

1 in particular was built very well and camouflaged. It was in the corner of the field under a large pine tree, a reasonably good arc of fire with open ground all around it.

Whoever built this must have prior knowledge of something they wanted to hunt around here, what though I have no idea.

 

 

As you can see it’s rather well hidden and would almost certainly be well hidden for anything that comes through the trees in front of it.

I have no idea who built this but it’s probably a farmer around here with too much time on his hands if you ask me. 1 thing, it’s right close to the road so I hope they are careful if they do use this, the last thing they want is to be arrested. Actually that might be a good idea, at least the animals would be safe.

I am going to keep my eyes peeled in the next few days and weeks and listen for gun shots. I will even walk down there and see if it’s still there. 1 things certain though: Now it’s hunting season around here I WILL NOT go into the woods anytime soon!!!

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