Monday, 24 August 2015

Birthday fun on Cannock Chase

On Saturday it was my birthday, hurrah! I celebrated, as I often do, by ambling around some heathland.  Chris drove us to Cannock Chase where we spent a marvellous afternoon walking in the Sherbrook Valley area. The weather was hot and clammy but the heathland was looking great blanketed in purple heather.

Cannock Chase.
Cannock Chase.
As expected for the time of year it was fairly quiet bird-wise, the best thing we saw was a large family of Stonechats catching flies and repeatedly dropping down onto the path in front of us, presumably to feed on some insects there. We also saw Whitethroat, Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers and lots of Jays, and heard Raven and Blackcap. At one point we saw a Carrion Crow perched at the top of a tree, panting in the heat! I also spotted some interesting plants including a couple that were new to me. In the car park were Fairy Flax and Common Centaury:

Fairy Flax (Linum catharticum).
Common Centaury (Centaurium erythraea).

Then on the heath, as well as all the more familiar plants, I found two I hadn't seen before:

This one looks like Climbing Corydalis (Ceratocapnos claviculata). Apparently it is an ancient woodland indicator too.
We found one large patch of this. I think it is the hybrid between Bilberry and Cowberry, Vaccinium x intermedium, which is known to grow on Cannock Chase. Exciting!
On top of all the nature fun I was having, Chris also got a bonus history fix, as we briefly checked out the German war cemetery and Katyn memorial. Cannock Chase has something for everyone! ;oD After an excellent afternoon we headed back home to continue the birthday fun (which mainly involved eating too much and watching Shaun the Sheep: The Movie). Good times!

Cannock Chase.
Cannock Chase.

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