Thursday, 22 April 2010

Hidden Gems on earth day

Today I went for a walk in a beautiful cowslip meadow which is a five minute from my home and I didn't realize it was there. I belong the the local U3A (University of the Third Age) natural history group and we had a guided walk round this site which I thought was just an area of waste ground. There are lots of small streams running through Luton which feed the River Lea which runs into the Thames. This site has lots of pools formed by springs and has a colony of rare crested newts as well as water voles. Kingfishers, herons and even little egrets have been seen at the site.
This is Trevor the local conservation office introducing us to the area which is surrounded by the A6, housing estates and an electricity sub-station. Those are cowslips we are standing in.
They are not quite fully out yet, Trevor reckoned they will be at their peak in a couple of weeks.
Here we are spotting the new leaves of the Greater Pignut which Trevor has shown us before on a different site. It is a rare plant which for some reasons enjoys growing around Luton, it is the chalk grassland it likes - it is a rather unprepossessing relative of the carrot.
One of the streams on the site. As the water is fresh from the chalk springs  it is lovely and clear.Later on there are  common and marsh orchids blooming in the meadow. I shall be back.
The pools are surrounded by several different species of willow - they will dry up later in the year.
These large marsh marigolds are probably a cultivar that has established  itself in the pool.
Luton has a rather poor reputation as a town, but it has a thriving and active conservation team working to preserve these little corners, I must get out more!


Printed Material said...

What a lovely thing to find so close to home. You'll be able to see it change with the seasons. How lovely it would be to be able to record it with some of your wonderful drawings and paintings in a book. Beautiful cowslips and such abundance! I wouldn't be able to recognise Pignut but I noticed how the Garlic Mustard is suddenly everywhere on the roadside the other day and then yesterday saw my first Orange Tip, a butterfly synonomous with it. Nature is wonderful isn't it? Looking forward to hearing when the swifts arrive home. Lesley.


Hey, that looks nice. In the middle of Luton too. We are home safe, recovered from jet lag and enjoying the beautiful spring weather. Talk soon.

marigold jam said...

It's amazing isn't it how Nature thrives even in the midst of 20th century town life. I am glad you have discovered this beautiful spot and imagine you will be going more often now you know about it. As Lesley says it would be good to do some sort of journal about it like your Walled Garden on and if you do please let us see some of it.


Menopausal musing said...

I would have loved to see the cowslips. I remember a field of them as a child. They are just such lovely little plants aren't they?

Eileen said...

A secret garden on a grand scale! Must try some of my local walks. Though we're rather more built-up that this, there's probably quite a lot to see when you know how to look, One of the great things about photography for me is that it helps me to see the world afresh.

Lalabibaby said...

What a lovely oasis in this barren town of ours .... I quite often drive past and will have to stop and take a look one day ... lovely photos x

Cozy in Texas said...

What a gem - your pictures made me homesick for England - brought back many childhood memories.
Ann Summerville
Cozy In Texas

Liverpool Lou (Anne) said...

Sounds like a lovely place to visit more :)
Anne xx

thekathrynwheel said...

How fantastic. It's good to know that there are some areas of green which haven't yet been built upon. I remember seeing cowslips in abundance when I was a young girl. Kate x

harmony and rosie said...

I certainly won't be telling my daughter about this place as she is crazy about nature, newts in particular! I love cowslips so I can image in a couple of weeks that place will be amazing.

Sandra Hall said...

I've so enjoyed this lovely nature post. It great that green spaces are preserved in built up areas, even better that they are enjoyed and appreciated!