Roger Dewhurst writes a monthly article in the Parish News (see Community) on the flora and fauna he has seen in the village in the previous month. He has written this article describing a year in the village.
Bolton-by-Bowland is not only a great place to live but also a wonderful place to visit. The village is situated in lovely varied countryside which is best explored by the network of footpaths which take you alongside its rivers, becks, woods and both lowland fields and upland pastures. A number of books have been written describing walks from the village. These and also relevant maps of the area can be purchased at the Post Office in the village centre near the car park.
The seasons play a big part in the life of the countryside; this is especially true with regard to the wildlife. February sees the arrival of lapwings, curlews and oyster catchers, fresh from their winter around the coasts of Britain. Most of the lapwings will disperse to breed in the upland fields but some will remain, along with the curlews whose bubbly song will delight us throughout the summer. Oyster catchers still nest on their traditional shingle beds alongside the becks but of recent years, have enjoyed more success nesting in the fields.
Spring is a wonderful time to explore the area, the hedgerows and fields revealing delightful displays of flowers. Primroses, a declining species in much of Britain, are still plentiful, to be replaced as spring progresses by vast carpets of bluebells. Then as spring merges into summer, the traditional hay meadows and pastures become a sea of yellow buttercups – a wonderful sight.
Our common resident birds, having enjoyed a series of mild winters, are abundant. Species like blackbird, chaffinch, wren and, to a lesser extent, song thrush, breed in profusion. But perhaps one of the specialities of the area is the redstart. These birds take up their territories often within easy walking distance of the village. There is no finer sight than a newly arrived male redstart resplendent in spring breeding plumage declaring his territory from atop a freshly liveried oak tree.
Ospreys pass through the area as they migrate further north but among the early breeders we have goosanders, herons, dippers and, in some years, kingfishers. As June and summer arrive, so too do the last of the summer migrants; the spotted flycatcher whose weak song can be heard along with another quintessential sound of summer in an English village – the sound of bat on ball as another cricket season gets under way. Visitors viewing the game from the bridge might be distracted by the fish swimming below or the antics of wagtails both grey and pied as they feed their newly fledged young. Overhead swifts scream about the sky or zoom under the eaves of the old cottages where they nest.
And so summer moves into autumn, perhaps the first sign being the horse chestnut trees on the Green whose golden yellow tints signify to the local lads that the conkers are ready. A walk in the area at dusk in October and you might be forgiven in thinking that the spirit of Old Mother Demdike and her fellow Pendle Witches had returned as a thrice repeated scream shatters the peaceful scene. But no, it’s only the local sika deer as the rutting season gets under way and the stags gather their harems together.
By now the countryside is quiet, the chorus of bird song long since ended. The migrants have returned to their winter quarters to be replaced by the arrival of birds from the far north like fieldfares and redwings who stay with us for the winter. The local owls, both tawny and little, now become vocal with the onset of winter as does the fox, whilst badger runs can be detected if looked for carefully.
And so we have travelled through a year in the life of this beautiful countryside around Bolton-by-Bowland; a wonderful place to live or visit at any time of the year.