‘Twelve Month of Nature’ talk in Clitheroe

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Peter Smith returned to Clitheroe Naturalist’s to give the last winter lecture of the season at St Mary’s Centre, Clitheroe. This time the subject was “Twelve Months of Nature”.

He also runs workshops studying the topics - woodlands, birds of prey and small mammals.

The lecture itself was divided into each month starting in the Cairngorms and Loch Moidart, where hungry birds in competition for food allowed the photographer to come closer to them. Sparrowhawks kept other birds away.

Jays, gooseanders and many fieldfares were pictured. Shy bank voles also put in an appearance as the cold brought them out of hiding.

February was notable for great numbers of goldfinch. Eagle owls made it difficult for smaller birds and red grouse’s food was the remains of heather. There was a wonderful shot of a frozen waterfall at Harden, near Bingley.

In March, nearer home at Dunsop Bridge, a dipper made a nest in a pipe at the water works and adders took advantage of the increasing warmth of the sun.

Spring flowers included the snakeshead fritillary, which attracted insects, and some butterflies – the orange tip – had survived the winter.

By May, nesting was in full swing and the swallows and martins had returned. Pictures of birds in flight were remarkable, as were the delightful lapwing chicks. Often, many hours were spent waiting, so a little artifice was used, such as building a set in Peter’s garage, which completely fooled the audience.

In the summer months, the richness of our flora – foxgloves majestic – and fauna, engaging baby owls were photographed.

September featured a stoat with its much larger prey. Another set was engineered with a harvest mouse placed in a glass tank as a combine harvester approached, stopping at the critical moment, with the connivance of the farmer. This was to demonstrate the perils for small animals from modern farming practices.

Brightly coloured fungi were a brilliant scene on misty morning in the autumn. The year was brought to a close with the antics of red squirrels enticed by peanut butter – another set up.

Chair woman Muriel Carruthers thanked Mr Smith for his superb photographs and witty asides on behalf of the naturalists. The summer season walks begin on Good Friday, led by Brain Jones at 9-30 am at the Clitheroe interchange. Book on 01200 538646.