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!

A handwritten blog

A day late with Dog Daisy Chains challenge, but here goes