Monday, 30 September 2013

Updates from Feckenham

This summer has been a good one for Feckenham Wylde Moor. In particular and probably most importantly we have had a hay cut. Yes I can hear you all gasping with amazement but it's true.

Half mown....
The long dry spells enabled us to make the cut on August 21st when the ground had been dry for some weeks. Those of you who remember last summer and the reserve will know how wet it was and we had to revert to plan B which was to blitz graze the un-cut meadows with 20 plus Herefords. They did good job considering but nowhere near as good as having the meadows mowed, baled and removed.
...full mown...

So, after the initial cut the hay was left to dry out for a few days over a hot weekend and then baled up and stacked on the drier part of the reserve adjoining Moors Lane.


All we need now is to get the cattle onto the ground for a couple of months to munch through the new growth.

...and ready!
There is a slight problem there in as much that our grazier can only move cattle once TB testing has been done and no reactors found and the paperwork issued This takes a while and therefore we are still waiting but hope to see either Herefords back on or there is a chance of some hardy Jacobs sheep. Whichever it will be very welcome and will significantly benefit the reserve for next year and the future.
 On another note, we have had good numbers of butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies and Brown Hairstreak eggs have once again been found in reasonable numbers on the reserve so that bodes well for next year.

Paul, Feckenham Wylde Moor reserve warden

Monday, 23 September 2013

Hedgehog talk by Terry Green

The autumn season of indoor meetings got off to a great start for Worcester Local Group last week with an illustrated talk by Terry Green on Hedgehogs. These prickly little characters proved to be a great crowd-puller with almost 50 people turning up to share a most enjoyable evening. Terry has just retired as an animal care lecturer at Pershore College, and with his experience of looking after hedgehogs, was able to entertain us both with his scientific knowledge and his stories, including the one about a hedgehog being rescued from a washing machine by the fire brigade! It was also good to hear that many people in the audience have hedgehog visitors, and Terry gave us lots of tips on how to help them.

Hedgehog © Rosemary Winnall
To add to the success of the evening, we were delighted to be able to give Terry a donation of £50 for the British Hedgehog Preservation Society.

Sandra, Worcestershire Local Group.

A coffee cup of beetles

My wife and I were on a walk through the Forest of Dean recently and I a spotted a large plastic coffee cup about two meters from the path. As it was upright in the grass I thought "that could be dodgy if some poor creature fell in it", so I went over to it. To my horror the bottom 25 mm of the cup was a mass of various black and violet beetle remains and motionless on the top was a type I had not seen before. I was shocked. We thought they were all dead but when I tipped them out to look at the contents more closely the big fella on the top slowly moved. We felt that he possibly survived by eating all the others. Upon returning home I looked him/her up. He/she was unmistakably a Burying Beetle Nicrophorus vespilloides . This lead to me reading up about Burying Beetles – fascinating. Obviously I removed the cup.

Roger, Droitwich Community Woods.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Colchicum flowers in full bloom

The last week of August saw the peak flowering of Colchicums in Trench Wood and a detailed count showed a 50% increase on last years numbers so the management regime is working well!

John,  Trench Wood warden

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Himalayan balsam

As readers of the blog know I take a particular interest in the eradication of Himalayan balsam.  10 years ago, when I started looking after Droitwich Community Woods, HB was widespread along our section of the River Salwarpe and from Copcut Park all down our sections of the Pulley Brook. It’s taken a long time and much sweat and swearing but my team of volunteers and I have at last got it down to an odd one here and there – which, of course, are removed asap.
Of course I find it painful to see how much there is elsewhere on my travels and never cease to be amazed by its abilities. At Kinver it started by the River Stour 1-2m high and progressively 'climbed' Kinver’s dry sandstone ridge right up to the church where it is only 10 to 15 cm. high.  At Hardcastle Craggs near Hebdon Bridge in Yorkshire I took photos of it growing all over the flat roof of a garage where the adjacent woodland was full of it. 

In Slovenia they encourage it to grow to the total detriment of their native wildflowers because a major industry is making and selling all kinds of honey products so they prize this bee-attracting plant.  And I'll bring this to a close two weeks ago when we were holidaying in can imagine my horror when, stepping out of our Amboise hotel, we were confronted by a planter full of HB!  

Yes, I do have nightmares about it!

Roger, Droitwich Community Woods