Friday, 17 February 2012

Hard work at Feckenham

We've been busy this winter on the reserve. 

Contractors are in pollarding the big old crack willows along the NW boundary hedge line. This is a continuation of work started last year to maintain and contain these very big trees that, unless work was done to reduce their height, would ultimately result in damage and even them being blown down in a strong wind. We have left existing cracks and holes to encourage bats and woodpeckers. 

Other contractors are felling some ash in the wood alongside the main pool. This is thinning work as nothing has been done to this stand of trees since they were planted in the early 1980s. Thinning will encourage more diverse ground cover as more light is let in and will also benefit the growth of the hazel understory. 

My regular hard-working Wednesday volunters have been busy.  We've cut another 10% of the reed bed, which we found to be very successful in previous years; regenerating growth producing taller denser and stronger re-growth.  This will provide better habitat for nesting warblers in the coming months. 

More work has been done on coppicing in the alders to reduce leaf drop into the dragonfly ponds and allow in more light. We've also started work on coppicing/pollarding the cross hedge between the paddock and the alder carr. This work is part of the greater scheme of things to open up the reed bed and marsh to enable birds such as snipe and other similar species to fly into the wet areas without having to dodge tall trees and high hedges. We'll be leaving any dead trees in the hedge line as habitat and 'cuckoo posts'. 

We've now completed the clearance work to the aged blackthorn where we have had our brown hairstreak success. This will now allow fresh suckers to grow and provide a small micro climate for BH to use in the future. 

Nothing to report on rare bird sightings and in general the reserve has been very quiet. We have had our bird-ringers on site and they have also found it to be very quiet. Last week I did, however, put up 2 woodcock, which was a bonus.

Paul, Feckenham Wylde Moor

Monday, 13 February 2012

Madagascan Wildlife

The island of Madagascar was the subject of a fascinating illustrated talk recently given by Phred Newbury to the Malvern local group. 

Madagascar is two and a half times the size of the British Isles and is the fourth largest island in the world.  It has been inhabited for only 2000 years by people believed to be of Indonesian descent. The island encompasses rainforests in the east and deciduous dry forests in the west separated by a high plateau. Looking at a map, it is clear that Madagascar would fit to the east coast of Africa like a jigsaw piece and it is thought that it broke away from Africa some 160 million years ago. As in Australia, this has led to the evolution of different animals and birds and many of the island’s species are found only in Madagascar. A good example is the Fossa, a large mammalian, nocturnal carnivore. New species continue to be discovered there.

The lemur is unique to Madagascar, where there are around 90 species. In Africa, lemurs were predated by monkeys and apes - they survived in Madagascar where there are no monkeys or apes. Even now they are hunted for food by humans despite being an endangered species.

Phred travelled over much of the island but her main objective was to visit the small, undeveloped island of Nosy Mangabe in the far north east of Madagascar in the hope of seeing Aye Aye Lemurs which are relatively safe there. Stephen Fry and Mark Cardwadine had failed to find these rare primates in the television programme Last Chance to See; Phred was very fortunate to see one of these amazing creatures only a short distance from her tent.

Phred supports Durrell, a wildlife conservation trust which was established by Gerald Durrell the writer who founded Jersey zoo. The trust’s mission is to save species from extinction and much of its work is carried out in Madagascar where it attempts to raise awareness of the importance of conservation amongst local people. She showed many excellent Durrell photographs of animals, birds, lizards, plants and insects which are endemic to Madagascar.

Our next indoor meeting will be held on Thursday 1st March when Rachel Salisbury will give an illustrated talk entitled The Conservation Garden. The meeting starts at 7.30 pm at the Chase Academy Sixth Form Annexe, Geraldine Close, Barnards Green WR14 3PF and we'd love to see you there.

Derek, Malvern local group

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Honeycomb at Beaconwood

I was out in Beaconwood on Tuesday and came across this fallen tree - with a lovely honeycomb interior.

Just a quick reminder about our talk in Bournville tomorrow evening (providing we don't get too deluged with snow tonight)...come along and discover more about Hidden Places, Secret Lives with Rosemary Winnall.

Sylvia, South Birmingham local group