Flanders Moss NNR
Alison Wallis lives just up the road from Flanders and writes here about her experiences of staying local and enjoying the wildlife on her doorstep during lockdown – lucky for her local happens to be one of the biggest and best bogs in the country:
We are very fortunate to live within walking distance of Flanders Moss, so when the country went into lockdown it was one of our regular haunts for daily exercise. At the end of March nature was moving into spring and we became interested in the changes taking place. However our knowledge of plants, animals and insects is limited so we can’t always identify what we’re seeing!
Initially we were unsure whether or not visiting the Moss was ‘allowed’ under the lockdown rules, but gradually we felt more comfortable and it seemed a very different place with fewer visitors and miles of natural land, as if nature was reclaiming its own space.
At the start of lockdown the water level was high due to the long, wet spell and we looked for frogs and toads hiding in the pools at the side of the boardwalk, but they were obviously very good at hiding, although some spawn could be seen in some of the pools. During April’s dry weather, the water level went right down and only the larger pools of water remained next to the boardwalk – hopefully the tadpoles survived. By early May we were hearing the cuckoos calling more clearly than normal due to the lack of road and air traffic. On every visit there was the hope of seeing an adder sunning itself but sad to say – nae’ luck! During May the cotton grass was the dominant feature, with waves of white bobbing heads stretching out into the distance – quite a sight.
Most of the time we had the space to ourselves but there were signs that animals and other people had been there. There were droppings on the boardwalk and the locked gate to the viewing tower had been broken open- I’ll leave you to decide which did what.
One of the benefits of lockdown was that walking down the road to the Moss was more pleasant due to the reduced traffic. Going on foot passed the fields and along the access road gives the opportunity to see the changes in the less ‘natural’ landscape. The road verges were filled with wild flowers, attracting insects, and in the fields the large clods of clay soil were transformed into new growing crops, thanks to the farmers’ hard work. Many of the fields also filled with new lambs, which is always a lovely sight.
Now the lockdown is relaxing nature will still be there doing its thing and more people will be able to come back to enjoy this unique place, although a wee part of me wishes it could have stayed locked down.