Sunken lanes seem to be a feature in this part of Staffordshire and we are lucky to have one such lane on Aston Lodge. It is a valuable habitat for wildlife and below are some of the flora and fauna you may see along it and in the fields beyond, so why not join me for...
A walk up Blackies Lane
Walking up the lane from the road, at the sides of the track, you might see the red berries of Lords-and-Ladies or Cuckoo Pint, but in spring you find the flower with its cowl surrounding the spadix.
Also in the trackside, is the White Dead-nettle which, as its name suggests, does not sting!
There are two interesting plants alongside the stream that can be seen from the path. The Wild Garlic or Ramsons is quite obvious.
The other plant is not so obvious, but it forms a yellowish mat by the side of the stream.
Lining the stream, on both sides of the lane, is the water-loving Alder. Its seeds are much loved by Goldfinches and Siskins.
There are a few Wych Elms along the lane and these are the foodplant of the rare White-letter Hairstreak. The trees are more obvious in the spring when the flowers and fruits come out before the leaves.
One of the features of Blackies Lane, especially in Spring, is the Queen Anne's Lace or Cow Parsley.
This is joined by Garlic Mustard or Jack-by-the-Hedge. Rub the leaves and you will see where its name comes from! You can use them in salads I believe.
Garlic Mustard is the foodplant of the Orange-tip butterfly and the lane is a good spot for this species in the spring.
As the lane rises, the sides rise up too, which means that part of the lane is in shadow. This encourages a growth of ferns, particularly the Male Fern.
The dappled shade of the lane is just what the Speckled Wood butterflies like and this is one of the best spots for them.
A plant that is a feature of the lane in spring, is the Greater Stitchwort.
One of the earliest plants to flower grows on both sides of the lane – Dog's Mercury, an unusual plant related to the spurges.
Dotted among the plants, the Red Campion stands out.
Before leaving the cutting, just look back at the two magnificent Ash trees. We now have Ash dieback in the county, I just hope these two survive!
Crossing the cattlegrid takes us into the open and ahead is the pond.
Apart from the Newt Pools off Lander Close, it is the only open water we have. It attracts a pair of Mallard, occasional Moorhens and in cold weather occasionally Snipe and even a Green Sandpiper. By July and August the pond almost dries out.
Here you will find frogspawn in the spring.
Growing around the pond and in the damper grassy areas is Lady's Smock; another foodplant of the Orange-tip butterfly.
Depending on grazing, the meadows can look fantastic in spring.
Look carefully at the buttercups, because most are Bulbous Buttercup with the turned down sepals.
As you make your way to the wicket gate and home, pause to marvel at the magnificent Oak. It is over 120 years old!
I hope you enjoyed the walk!
Use the back button on your browser to return to Nature & Environment (or previously visited) page.
Copyright © - November 2021. Unless otherwise stated, images and text: David Emley. All rights reserved.