Hazel Bowes, previously chair of the Ludlow branch of Shropshire Wildlife Trust, has written an interesting piece, reproduced here, about the birdlife you can expect to see on Whitcliffe.
Although Whitcliffe Common is only 52acres and is adjacent to the popular town of Ludlow the area is well managed by ‘The Friends of Whitcliffe Common’ resulting in a surprising richness of birdlife.
From Ludford bridge it is possible to spot Grey Wagtails, Grey Heron, mute Swans and Common Sandpiper and Dipper on the little islands. In summer, particularly evenings screaming flocks of Swifts never cease to delight. If you now make your way past the Charlton Arms and turn immediately right up the steps you will walk through trees with clearings. Here you may find Song and Mistle Thrush, all the pigeons including Stock Dove, Greater Spotted Woodpecker and Tawny Owl which will be brought to your attention by the angry noise of smaller birds ganging up against it! Further along the path you come to the open common with wonderful viws over the town with its castle, church and hills beyond. You may be lucky to see a Red Kite overhead or Ravens and Buzzards. There are a pair of
Peregrine Falcons often on the church tower looking for easy pickings from the feral pigeons!(binoculars essential). Now walk uphill to the toposcope and bearing left carefully
crossthe road. You now enter an area of predominantly old oak trees. In spring you may be lucky to spot or hear Commen Redstart, Pied Flycatcher, Nuthatch, Treecreeper and the
rarer Willow Warbler and Spotted Flycatcher.
Circle round to retrace your steps back to the toposcope and head downhill to the left. Watch for Long-tailed Tits, willow and Marsh Tits, Blue, Great and Cole Tits, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch and God crest where you come across conifers. In season Chiff chaff
and Blackcap and Common Whitethroat with an occasional sighting of the Sparrowhawk. Descend by the steps that lead to Dinham Bridge. At the bottom on your left are Hornbeams look for Hawfinches in winter and in the quarry behind Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. Make your way back to Ludford Bridge along the Breadwalk which runs beside the river. You may see passing Cormorants, Kingfisher, Sand Martin,
Goosander, Little Grebe, Mallards and Moorhens.
All pictures in the gallery are courtesy of Margaret Holland
European cowslip study.
Charles Darwin studied the floral characteristics of Primulaspecies in the 1870s. In cowslip (Primula veris) he observed two distinct types of style of different lengths (heterostyly). In the long-styled form the stigma is located above the level of the stamens whereas in the short-styled type the stigmas are obscured by the stamens, which are inserted at the mouth of the corolla tube (see images). These two types are sometimes known as ‘pin’ and ‘thrum’, respectively. He investigated the pollination and seed setting of cowslip and in 1877 reported that cross-pollination was favoured and, hence, good plant health following hybridisation between the ‘pin’ and ‘thrum’. Following distantly in the mighty footsteps of Darwin, a Europe-wide study led by the University of Tartu in Estoniahas involved the public in recording the numbers of the two stylar types in local meadowsto seewhether the ratios differ from the expected 1:1. A divergence might be a symptom of the decline in cowslip numbers, for example when populations become small and isolated through loss of habitat or changes in land management. At the end of April I did a count of 100 plants in the upper meadow on Whitcliffe (adjacent to the Ludford layby near the Charlton Arms) and found 49 ‘pin’: 51 ‘thrum’, which is very close to the expected ratio. I sent the results to Plantlife (www.plantlife.org.uk)who are collating the data in this country and liaising with the University of Tartu and the Estonian Fund for Nature, to develop a pan-European understanding of the health of our grasslands. Richard Pickering.
Whitcliffe Wildlife Survey:
Fungal Foray by Border Bryophytes Group, led by Mark Lawley
Scaly Male fern, found along the Breadwalk
Butterfly Orchid, May 2019