Poetry in silken motion

Kirsty Brown – Conservation Projects Assistant

A couple of weeks ago we were contacted by a local man wondering about something he had seen out on the moorland where the natural behaviour of an arachnid and the weather conditions had fortuitously coalesced to produce a visual phenomenon.

What he had seen were lengths of silken threads stretching over the heather as far as the eye could see, highlighted by the autumn sun catching hanging water droplets. The effect is caused by numerous spiders, often young spiders and those of the money spider family, using a method of dispersal called ‘ballooning’. The spiders climb up to a high point in the vegetation and cast out a few long threads of silk, which catch the wind and carry the tiny spiders away, and some travel for considerable distances.

When the spiders land, their long threads drape across anything they touch. The sight is images (2)most often seen in autumn and early winter when they are at their most numerous and many balloon simultaneously. The word ‘gossamer’ is often associated with the resultant shimmering visual effect.

The sight can be hard to capture by photography. If you don’t get to see the sight first hand, for the next best alternative – try here.

The local man was called Brian Clark. Luckily for us Brian is a co-founder of the Helmsley Art Centre and a runner-up in the Poetry Society’s national competition last year. So he put his impressions into words …

Balloonists

For Kirsty

 

The only spiders nobody minds:

money spiders

bringers of good fortune

who each autumn seek theirs

by shinning up heather sprigs

casting silken threads to the wind

to slip off in search of love;

minute adventurers galore

in an ocean of gossamer

high on the moors

a sun-spangled billowing

and shimmering in the breeze

spinning their luck

and yours.

 

Brian Clark

November 2014

 

Soggy moorland helping to stop soggy carpets

Rachel Pickering – Conservation Officer

I wish that my favourite view in the National Park was tucked away somewhere that nobody else knew about – but it isn’t.  Instead it’s one of our most photographed views – the Hole of Horcum within Levisham Estate. Not only is the view stunning but it has also proved to be a key location for landscape works towards the Slowing the Flow in Pickering project.

Work began on 8 January 2014 on the bund at Newbridge which will store flood waters upstream of Pickering. This work is a culmination of efforts by a number of partner organisations over the last few years to make changes to upstream land management to slow down the water running off the North York Moors and into Pickering Beck before it gets into Pickering town.  For the last three years the National Park Authority has been busy carrying out the following work on its own land at Levisham Estate.

Slowing the Flow - tree planting

Tree planting

Wooden dams created

Slowing the Flow - moorland gully blocking photo taken November 2012 - shows heather bales holding water back

Moorland gully blocking

  • The National Park Authority has spent £7,000 on partially blocking natural occurring moorland gullies with heather bales on various parts of the Estate.


Re-vegetation work

  • Heather brash has been spread in the Hole of Horcum to aid re-vegetation after the previous years’ bracken control left areas of bare ground.

Footpath repair work

  • An eroding footpath into the Hole of Horcum has recently been repaired with improved drainage that will slow down run off along the route.

Heather burning buffers

The hope is that with this type of beneficial land management established upstream of Pickering, along with the creation of the bund just to the north of the town, the chance of extreme flooding events will be lessened in the future.