Friday, 21 February 2014

Winter at Hill Court Farm

The Hill Court Farm reserve is a wetland reserve, but even here I don't think we've ever seen it quite as wet!

This was the view last week, showing just how flooded some of the fields have become -

A large number of wetland birds such as ducks, swans and waders have been taking advantage of the flooded landscape making quite a spectacle at times.  But I'm sure the conditions have made life difficult for other birds and mammals wildlife on the reserve, just as it has made every day life a little trickier for many of us.
As for our intrepid volunteers, we have spent the winter clearing, coppicing and laying a long length of hedgerow which, as we've slashed, chopped and sawn away, has seemed an almost destructive task at times. 

However, when Spring comes around and the hedge begins to sprout new growth we will end up with a healthier, thicker hedgerow which will provide an important source of food and shelter for a variety of birds and other animals e.g. small mammals and butterflies.
If you would like to become involved in the volunteer work at Hill Court Farm our next volunteer work party is taking place this Saturday 22 February, when we will be planting new trees - one of my favourite tasks because it feels so constructive and nurturing.

For more details contact Rob or Naomi on 01905 754919 or email

Sara, Reserve warden Hill Court Farm 

Roving volunteers at Upton Warren

Yesterday the rovers were putting in some new fox proof, stock proof fencing, ready in time for the bird breeding season; a pair of avocets have already arrived! The fence will stop foxes getting in to disturb birds, and we're also confident our lovely Dexter cows won't be able to bash through either.

Contrary to what you might expect, we've been having some lovely bright days on work parties recently, with temperatures picking up and the days getting longer. Thanks to everyone for your continued effort.

Naomi, Volunteer Coordinator

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Button Oak Meadow: a New Trust Reserve

I'm hijacking the volunteer blog (yet again!) to tell you about Button Oak Meadow, one of our newest reserves. I visited the reserve this week to plan its management with my counterpart from Shropshire Wildlife Trust. Volunteers will have the chance to view this site in April as there are a few jobs to be done before the growing and nesting season gets under way like clearing the barns gutters, fixing windows to make sure swallows can get in to nest but keeping rain out, and clearing fallen boughs from the stock fence. 

Thankfully it was a bright sunny day and the site was relatively DRY!  Despite the dry weather I saw a kingfisher on the smallest of water filled ditches by the reserve. Probably keeping away from the bigger rivers which are dramatically in flood . The site has a barn which will be useful for volunteers to shelter in if it rains hard. In the summer I'm hoping volunteers will help record wildlife so we can have a complete picture of this reserve. There is a lot of botanical interest and the underlying geology and soil has resulted in a diverse plant community – there are areas of acid grassland, neutral grassland and wet flushes all very close to one another with transitions between each. As with many meadow reserves, access is restricted, so volunteering provides one of the best ways of seeing a site.

Andy, Northern Reserves Officer

Friday, 14 February 2014

Winter at Feckenham

It's been wet, very wet but Feckenham is coping really well. Surface water is high and there are areas where it is almost over your Wellingtons but still passable with care.
We have been monitoring the water levels since the beginning of December last year and the results are interesting. We already knew that water naturally moved across and off the reserve, however, interestingly, we are finding that after significant rainfall the levels in the dip tubes are not that different to when there hasn't been any rain but the build up at the Southern end is being caused by excess water not getting across neighbouring land and into the brook.

This isn't a problem for us as the high water levels enhance the reserve. It just makes it more difficult for anyone walking the permissive public footpath, but then it is meant to be a wetland !

Our Roving Volunteers have been very busy with coppicing more Alders and this week carrying out margin clearance on the main pool. This was a job that has been long overdue and it now looks much better providing more water in the channel along the right side of the pool.

James Hitchcock has also been busy pollarding more big Willows which is part of our ongoing Management Plan.

This winter we have found a record number of Brown Hairstreak eggs on our Blackthorn. We are currently at 86 with one or two doubles and a triple. Previous years have only managed to record 24. So, when the adults are on the wing in late summer we will hopefully locate an Assembly tree.

This week has seen the first signs of our Cowslips with some brave new plants showing on top of a Mole hill.

Paul, Feckenham Wylde Moor Reserve Warden