Welcome to the National Trust on Wenlock Edge

A wooded limestone ridge of high bio-diversity, interspersed with species rich grassland

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Nibbled nuts

Walking through the woods you are very likely to see hazelnuts on the floor, in the leaf litter and at the base of Hazel coppice. Many small mammals rely on hazelnuts to survive and if you look closely you can tell what mammal has eaten it. For example squirrels have strong jaws and can crack the hard outer shell of a hazelnut in half, whereas mice have to nibble a little hole in the shell to get to the kernel inside, as you can see in the picture below. 


When dormice nibble through the shell they use their teeth to scallop a hole and so the edge is very smooth whereas if the edge has lots of scratches on it then it was probably eaten by a wood mouse. Why don't you have a look next time you are at Wenlock and test your mammal detective skills?

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Some helping hands from SSNTV

Me and Al had eleven extra pairs of helpful hands cutting down the small trees and clearing brash on the upper slope in Longville (near Wilderhope) coppice today. This extra help was provided by the SSNTV (Shropshire and Staffordshire National Trust Volunteers) and was very much appreciated. We got a vast area cleared of scrub and small trees and a large amount of brash burnt. We are doing this so that we can access and remove the larger trees easier during thinning works. 


The SSNTV do lots of work at various National Trust properties including Dudmaston and Attingham Park and always impress us with the effort they put in and the good job they do. So thank you to everyone who came along today! 


Saturday, 15 November 2014

Fungi season

After such a long dry summer the rain has finally come and in response we are getting flushes of lots of fungi. They come in all shapes, sizes and colours and make beautiful photographs. Here are just a few that we have found on Wenlock Edge. Try and find some yourselves and take a photo.

A young puff ball

Labrinth fungus

Honey fungus

Birch polypore

Shaggy inkcap

What we have been up to

Visitors from the Valley
At Wenlock we work closely with staff at Carding Mill Valley however it is very rare that they get a chance to come over to Wenlock and many people there don’t know what we get up to. Therefore this month me and Al organised an introductory work day for a small group of CMV staff.


Al led a guided tour around the Edge and talked about the management work we do and the habitats and wildlife we have here. Afterwards there was a practical session which involved cutting felled trees into 3 metre lengths and stacking them in piles ready for the forwarder to take them up the slope to the trackside. We were lucky with the weather, everyone got stuck in and we got a good chunk of work done too. Thank you everyone for helping! 

Full time volunteer Rob and Administrator Nicola stacking logs


Post Refurbishment
Some of the posts at Wenlock have been in place for over 16 years and are starting to show their age.  Where the post meets the soil, rot has got into the wood and it is starting to fall apart. Therefore one by one we have been digging them out and replacing them with nice new posts which should last another 16 years. Most recently we have started work on some posts behind Presthope car park. Replacing a post is a much easier job than digging a whole new hole as much of Wenlock has a thin top soil layer and so very quickly you hit solid rock! 

 The Johns installing the new post

A finished post

Update from the Rangers

The edge looks gorgeous at the moment with a host of autumnal colours and misty mornings; brilliant for budding photographers. From the bird hide you can see the seed vanishing by the second as all the birds try to fatten themselves up ready for the harsh winter ahead.

Views

Wenlock Edge has numerous viewpoints which look out across the beautiful rural Shropshire landscape. To allow visitors to enjoy these views the Rangers and volunteers have been busy cutting back tall Hazel trees which have been obstructing the view. No mean feat by anyone’s standards as we have had to crawl up and down the slope through head height brambles. But it was all worth it!

The Johns cutting the Hazel back

A finished viewpoint

Whilst clearing these viewpoints we found an old dormouse nest in the tall brambles; the pictures show the dead leaves they use to cover the outside and how they tightly weave bark together to make their nest. These nests can often be mistaken for a wood mouse nest however dormice often use green leaves inside their nests whereas wood mice always use dead leaves.




Housekeeping
The volunteers have been sprucing up the future volunteer mess room. We emptied out everything, scrubbed the floors, walls and sink and began painting the walls. There is still quite a lot of work to do in there but it is amazing how much better it looks after some TLC and a lick of paint. When it’s ready it’ll be a place where our volunteers can gather to chat, make a brew, warm up and put their muddy boots after a hard day’s work. 

Before

Keep scrubbing lads!

When sweeping cobwebs off the wooden bench we discovered lots of beautiful moths. These are herald moths which must have been overwintering in there. To protect them from the further disturbance we would cause by cleaning and painting we gently encouraged the moths onto our hands and relocated them into the log pile in another outbuilding so they could hibernate. We must have rescued around 10 of these attractive moths.



Thursday, 23 October 2014

The hazel dormouse

The hazel dormouse is a rare nocturnal mammal which we are lucky enough to have at Wenlock Edge. As their name suggests they rely heavily on Hazel nuts which they eat to fatten up for the winter. This year the Hazel nut crop has been very good which could be the reason why we have found such healthy numbers of dormice on the edge recently. Below is a photo taken this week during a dormouse survey. 


You can find out if dormice are present by looking at nibbled hazelnuts; nuts which have been opened by squirrels will be cracked open whereas wood mice and dormice will nibble a round hole through the shell to get to the kernel inside. Wood mice will leave teeth marks around the surface of the hole but dormice will leave a very smooth finish which is unlike any other animal.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Update on the edge

Hello, my name is Kate and I am the new seasonal Shropshire Hills Assistant ranger which means I do bits of work at both Wenlock Edge and the Long Mynd. I very recently graduated from Harper Adams University with a degree in Countryside Management and have loved being outdoors and looking after our special places since I was 12 years old. Some of you may know me already because part of my university course involved a placement year which I did at the Long Mynd which I thoroughly enjoyed! So anyway back to a very quick update of what we have been doing recently.


Harley bank work
We made use of the road closure on Harley bank recently to manage the woodland and vegetation at the road side. Full time volunteers at Carding Mill Valley, Rob and Charis, came over at short notice to help us and contractors, Jay and Seamus to get the job done. We normally cut it back on an 8 year cycle but with the road being closed for resurfacing we couldn’t miss the opportunity. Some of the trees had sun bows on them and were leaning out across the road so we took those out as well as cutting back coppice regrowth of Hazel, Elm and Ash. It wasn’t easy, over the three and a half days we put around 13 tonnes of vegetation through the chipper and had to fight our way through brambles and dog rose, but it looks great now it’s done and we can forget about it for another 8 years!


Firewood
Three metre cordwood lengths are starting to go out to customers who ordered over the summer to stock up for winter. However we don’t have the capacity to do any split logs. Fire wood sales are important as they contribute to the woodland management costs and it is all sold locally so the delivery has a low carbon footprint. 


Volunteering
Me and Al could really do with a hand with the conservation and engagement work at Wenlock Edge so we are busy working away on some volunteer role profiles. So watch this space for more information and let us know if you would like to become part of the team and get involved with looking after Wenlock Edge.