Howard Phillips – Brock Bottom outing, 8th May 2024

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Bluebells and RamsonsA Spring Stroll down the River Brock
When we did this walk 2 years ago, I had hoped to go as far as the mill at Brock Bottom. However, we only reached the half way point when time ran out and we turned back so as not to be too late for our picnic. This time we started an hour earlier and we achieved our target even though it was past one o’clock before we were back at the car park.
Howard, Barry, Owen and Carol were joined by Rob and Belinda of the North Lancs Wildlife Trust. Everyone had their own expertise which they passed on to the other members of the group.
Howard was keen to show how the deposits exposed by the erosion of the river could lead to an understanding of how the valley was created. In one place the river bank showed clearly the river gravels of a terrace overlying the boulder clay which would have filled the valley as the ice melted away. Then behind the mill the river had cut through the boulder clay and was excavating a new valley in the Bowland Shale.
Howard distributed copies of the 1895 map of Brock Bottom showing the layout of the mill stream, the mill ponds, the mill, and the workers’ cottages. Although the end wall of the mill is still standing it was intriguing to discover the remains of the cottages and mill ponds now overgrown or eroded away. There was plenty of evidence of gardens with raspberry, red currant and gooseberry bushes thriving.
Owen was on the hunt for lichens and found numerous species – map lichen (on the parapet of the bridge), Cigarette Ash, Brown Cobblestone, Fringe Caps, Dog, Oakmoss, Black Stone Flower, Dust, and Whitewash.
Carole concentrated on the wild flowers – bluebells and ramsons carpeted the slopes. I suspect that ramsons are spreading rapidly and I for one do not appreciate their fragrance! We identified Lesser and Greater Stitchwort, and discussed for quite a time the hybridisation of Wood and Water Aven species. Many of these hybrids exhibit the drooping flowers of the Water Aven but are yellow like the Wood Aven. We distinguished between umbellifers – Pignut, Sweet Cicely and Cow Parsley. Other flowers included butterbur, garlic mustard, red campion, herb robert, wood speedwell, wood sorrel, opposite leaved golden saxifrage and yellow pimpernel.
Barry was looking out for birds – there were dipper and grey wagtail flying up and down the river; nuthatch, coal tit, and robin on the feeders; and plenty of song from song thrush, blackcap, chaffinch, and blackbird.
Rob and Belinda were on the hunt for insects. Alder Beetles were found not just munching alder leaves, but also hazel and hawthorn. A tiny 14-spot ladybird which is yellow with black spots was spotted! We examined in great detail a nomad bee, a fly – Rhagio scolopaceus, a hoverfly that only occurs on Ramsons – Portevina maculata, and another hoverfly with a long snout hence the name – Rhingia campestris.
Thanks to everyone for contributing to another great nature walk where we all gained much from everyone else.

Categories: Mid Week Outing


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