Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Why Do We have Nature Reserves?

I thought the Chance Wood volunteers need a bit of a treat this month so I arrived an hour or so early, photographed the area we were going to work on and started to cut back the rhododendron.  I soon produced a pile big enough to start to cut into the small straight pieces that are essential to get a fire going; my aim was to present them with a small fire that they could soon enjoy enlarging to get rid of the rest of the rhododendron we were going to clear. Despite realising I’d forgotten the kindling, I soon had a small blaze going ready to hand over to Carl, our ex-scout and fireman.

After a couple of hours clearing, burning and cake-eating we settled down to watch the fire burn down.  We got to talking about the reserve and how long some of us had been using it.  One volunteer mentioned how, many years ago, they had often come to sit in the reserve and clear their head of problems and worries, they explained that they always felt there was a quiet spot to sit unnoticed and that they somehow felt safer in the reserve than elsewhere.  I was reminded of how surprised I was when an apparently very self-assured acquaintance confided in me that he always came to the wood to sit surrounded by ‘nature’ while he sorted out his problems.  I know of at least two other people who have told me that the wood helped them through difficult times and a couple who wanted their ashes scattered in the wood because it was so special to them.

The Wildlife Trust takes on the ownership of pieces of land and calls them nature reserves for a variety of reasons: most often to try to provide a haven for a particularly threatened species or assemblage of different species, ultimately with the hope that they may eventually return to the wider countryside. There are no rare or threatened species in Chance Wood; it does, however, provide a haven where people can regenerate and draw a little strength from the natural world, hopefully to go out and champion the natural world in their everyday lives.

...oh, and we cleared all that rhododendron too!

Roger, Chance Wood

Monday, 11 March 2013

On the Wild Side

It is easy to get excited about tigers, gorillas and polar bears but has it occurred to you that the wildlife in our cities can be just as enthralling? 

Iain Green has been a wildlife photographer for 15 years and has discovered surprises in the most unexpected places. Most of his talk was about the wildlife to be found in London. A few escaped rose-ringed parakeets in the 1960s have bred happily and there are now estimated to be 10,000 of them in the city. Over Rainham Marsh you can see owls, lapwings, kingfishers, large flocks of black-tailed godwits and even occasionally hoopoes. In Deptford Creek there are grey wagtails, black redstart and thousands of flounder fry in the water. Everyone knows that foxes flourish all over London but did you realise that south London is one of the best places in Europe to find stag beetles? Peregrine falcons nest in tall buildings, including one pair on Charing Cross Hospital. Dolphins, porpoise and seals are often seen in the Thames.

Most amusing of all were Iain’s fabulous photographs of the wildlife to be found in the garden of 10 Downing Streetducks have nested on the back lawn, two kestrels have made their home on a drainpipe and the fledglings oversee the politics of the nation, a fox regularly passes by the night policeman and takes no notice of him.

The next meeting is on April 4th at 7.30 pm at Malvern Evangelical Church. Bill Indge will talk about Alfrick, A Village and its Insects. 

Alison, Malvern Local Group

Friday, 8 March 2013

25 years at Broadway

25 years ago today (8th March) Colin Raven asked me if I would like to warden Broadway Gravel Pit after I had sent in my birdwatching records for the site.  Honorary Reserve Manager offer followed in November 1989 - I had a 2 year break in 1999 but remained a volunteer on site before jumping back in the hot seat in 2002.  And I'm still enjoying it!!

Thanks to all of those who have helped and supported through the years.

Mark, Broadway Gravel Pit