In November 2009 a group of naturalists met at Risley Moss and Cheshire Active Naturalists (CAN) was born.

The aim of the group is to further the understanding & enjoyment of the County's wildlife through training & recording. The membership boasts some of the most experienced active naturalists and is proud to support the local records centre, rECOrd, in its quest to collect, validate, and disseminate data for the purpose of conservation. more of this






 Diptera Day at Norton Priory

with Tom Mawdsley

Sunday 8th December.......we are all yet again staring down microscopes, this time at flies – Diptera, that is, true flies which only have one pair of wings. We are at Norton Priory and Tom Mawdsley is showing us how to identify flies to family level (there are over 100 families of flies in the UK!). This was the third time Tom has visited us, he must be a sucker for punishment.



Nathusius' Pipistrelle Confirmed



During some bat transect surveys being undertaken by CANner Andy Harmer in September, a sub 40khz call resembling Nathusius' Pipistelle call was picked up at Acton Bridge. A sonogram was emailed to John Russ and this has now been confirmed as a Nathusius' Pip call. Further work has since been undertaken and similar calls have been picked up along the River Weaver between Acton Bridge and Frodsham. As Nathusius' Pipistrelle is only known from one site in Cheshire, the most recent encounters are considered to be pretty significant, especially as linear features such as rivers and canals are not considered to be 'preferred habitats' in England.


A full article is being prepared.



CAN Displays at Norton Priory

A big thanks to Norton Priory who invited Cheshire Active Naturalists to have a stand at their annual 'Quince Day' on Sunday 13th October . It was a great day where we not only got to experience many country crafts in the idyllic Walled Garden at Norton Priory but also got to chat with and show the general public some of the wildlife that occurs in Cheshire. Clive Washington, Andy Harmer and Bill Bellamy attended on behalf of CAN and showed live terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates.



CAN eBay Fundraising Bash

The CAN eBay Fundraising Bash  - This will take place at The Swan Hotel at Bucklow Hill (on A556 just south of junc 7 M56) on Sunday 17th November 2013 between 7pm and 11pm to raise funds for CAN.

The idea is that CAN members help raise funds for equipment by putting some unwanted items on eBay prior to the CANeBay event and timing it so each individual auction ends during the get-together. There will be nothing more strenuous than eating, drinking, watching eBay items ending and a non-taxing natural history related quiz. Please join us.



Aliens in Cheshire!

by Clive Washington



 A few years ago I had been surprised to find a flattish yellow sluglike creature, about two inches long, under a stone in my garden. A bit of research showed that it was the Australian flatworm, Australoplana sanguinea, an alien species which appeared in the UK (in the Scilly Isles) in 1980, but has since been found across the country. There is some concern about these flatworms as they are earthworm predators, and DEFRA advice is to trap them with flat refuges and destroy as many as can be found. They are listed on schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, which makes it an offence to deliberately release them into the wild. This winter I've seen a few more, in the same spot in my garden, but this time I had my camera to hand and was able to observe the creature closely. Reminiscent of a leech, it stretches its head end out and waves it over the surface in a search pattern, looking, presumably, for its prey, or indications of it. After a few minutes it must have found some sort of trail because it turned round through 180 degrees and headed directly towards a worm-hole in the soil substrate. It disappeared down the hole in about a minute, presumably in search of its prey, and didn't emerge in the half-hour that I watched afterwards. The following evening I encountered two more, which are now in a moss-filled pot in my office, waiting for a suitable experiment to suggest itself!


Adder Sighting After

Seven Year Absence


A CANARG member visited this site following  the push to find Adder in Cheshire this year.  The site was regarded as still favourable but no Adders were seen. Dave Morris, the National Trust warden was probably the last observer of Adder at this site in 2007 but he hadn't given up hope that they were still present and sure enough in September 2012 a lady walking at Bickerton observed and then photographed a female Adder as it crossed her path.




Lichen Event 2013 

Xanthoria parietina

The Lichen Identification Workshop dawned frosty and sunny. A group of 17 CAN members wrapped up well and met at St. Winifred's Church in Mobberley.  Mike Gosling was the leader for the day. Mike has previously led lichen workshops for CAN and it was decided that for this event, he would concentrate on lichens of churchyards.



Fund-raising Event

November 2013


Big thanks to all those who helped with our ebay fund-raising event in November where we sold around 70 items that were kindly donated by members.  We managed to raise over £640.00 including some cash donations off  members.  Our treasurer reports a healthy balance now and we aim to use this money to provide better equipment for our events. 




Dark Green Fritillary


Photo courtesy of Tim Melling (more photo's of Tim's here)


Two sightings for Dark Green Fritillary on the same day. CAN member Jack Swan recorded and photographed a specimen at Biddulph near Congleton and Andy Harmer reported a large 'frit' at Frodham Marsh but was unable to get close enough to confirm; both were on Saturday 13th July.  



Spring on Hold



Two weeks ago Cheshire was ready for the spring awakening; frogspawn had arrived, newt eggs had been found, songbirds were throbbing their sweet melodies and even reports of common pipistrelle bats leaving their roosts to go roaming in the gloaming had reached the welcome ears of naturalists, but alas, winter has arrived again and reminded us all that erratic weather patterns may be a regular feature to our lives now.  Time, and maybe just a short time, will reveal what impacts this instability to our seasons will have on wildlife.





Keroplatus testaceus




CAN member Philip Brighton has had an excellent find in his kitchen at his home in Croft; a beautiful specimen of the fungus gnat Keroplatus testaceus.  This insect is normally confined to old broad-leaved woodlands but Philip thinks that an old rotting logpile may have provided the required habitat.  This is a really exciting find as not only is it a new site and a new county but it perhaps shows the value of gardens for wildlife. Threats are known to include the 'tidying up' of woodlands for aesthetic and/or health and safety reasons. The ability for a woodland fly to find suitable conditions in a suburban garden is encouraging.  Please keep your eyes peeled for this animal




Canal Tunnel Vision



Ever wondered what lives in a canal tunnel - so do some of the CAN members, and they're determined to find out so they've planned to take a slow boat through the 1200 metre structure at Dutton very shortly.  Watch this space.



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