Crompton Moor in the Summertime.
It might sound like a cliché to say that in the Summer the moorland is buzzing with life.
On Crompton Moor however, this is quite simply the truth.
If you were to sit down almost anywhere on the moor in Summer you would find yourself surrounded by the insect life of all shapes and sizes.
The butterflies and dragon flies are often obvious and easy to see of course, but the true vitality of this habitat is often elusive and much smaller.
At first glance when we look over a meadow we could be forgiven for thinking that there does not appear to be much going on.
We might spot a few birds here and there or maybe just hear their song but other than that there may not seem to be much wildlife to see.
Consider though, that grassy plain from an insects perspective and what you are looking at is a mega city full of life, shelter and food.
Every plant and every insect upon it has it’s role and place in this bustling community as do other many creatures like birds and mammals.
Some will be prey and some will be hunters, some of those hunters are destined to be prey themselves, but one thing is certain in this vast interlinked chain of life and that is that it starts off small and almost invisible.
The arrival of the cuckoo is often considered to be a harbinger of Spring. Here on the moor, where sadly we have not heard the cuckoos call for many years, one of the first outward signs of the seasons turning to Summer is the appearance of “Cuckoo Spit” adorning the heather.
Despite it’s name, this frothy substance has nothing in fact to do with the cuckoo, but is secreted by a tiny insect called a “froghopper” to protect itself from drying out.
In some of the wetter places you may also find the downy heads of cotton grass between the heather and the whinberry bushes.
As June gives way to July some citizens of that insect city take to the air as if joining us on our holiday migrations.
Meadow Browns, Large and Small Skippers are common here. Hunters like the Common Hawker dragonfly you will need to be luckier to see but the wide range of habitats, from woodland, scrub and heather to ungrazed grassland, bog and stream, even a small reservoir, make Crompton Moor a rich, and very diverse environment for invertebrates.
This summer explosion of insect life also supports the growing broods of furred and feathered residents of the moor too.
Shrews busily compete with Skylarks, Meadow Pippets and Robins to eat their way through this insect feast while trying themselves to avoid being on the menu of Weasels, Owls and Kestrels
Perhaps a more popular sign though is the colourful emergence of foxgloves that thrive near woodland edges and on the sheltered slopes.
There are many wild flowers to be found in in the meadows but the pink and white spikes of the foxgloves are one of the great annual displays that demonstrate the diversity and varied character of Crompton Moor.
Every plant and every creature of the woods, the meadows and the moors has it’s role to play in the life story of Crompton Moor.
You cannot expect to change one part of it without affecting the rest, that is simply not how nature works, as we are starting to learn to our cost.
The real fight to save the World will only not be won in the Arctic or the Rain forests, it must be fought here in our backyard as well.
The water that runs through Pingot Falls will one day be the rain that fills the Amazon Basin or the ice that supports the Polar Bear.
It’s all part of the same thing.
Contact the Rangers on 0161 620 8202 (Strineside Centre) or 0161 627 2608 (Tandlehill) Other contact details
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