Welcome to the National Trust on Wenlock Edge

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

Saturday, 28 June 2014

My Final Post

After ten years of working at Wenlock Edge and four years of updating this blog the time has come for me to move on to another National Trust property as I have been offered a great role at Lyme Park.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here in the Shropshire hills, working on a wide range of conservation projects and events with wonderful colleagues. Wenlock Edge and the surrounding countryside has been an absolute pleasure to work in and being involved in conserving this special place has been an amazing experience. I have learned a lot and worked with some fantastic people both staff and volunteers and made some great friends, as a family we have also been welcomed into the local community so it is with some sadness that we are moving away.

My new role is at Lyme Park on the edge of the Peak District and it is a very exciting opportunity at a really interesting property with habitats that include, open moorland, medieval deer park, woodland and formal gardens.

Hopefully the blog will continue and maybe with a new author improve and evolve. I am going to sign off simply by adding some photos from the last four years.



Thanks for reading

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Well done sheep!

Yesterday whilst checking the sheep in the car park on the edge of Much Wenlock I had a proper look at the state of the grassland. This was to see if the work we did to fence it off and graze it is working to improve its condition.

I knew that it ought to have made an improvement and I know that there are fewer nettles and hogweed but I was still stunned as to how well the wildflowers have responded.
There are lots of Pyramidal Orchids in areas where I have not seen them before, there is also Yellow Wort, Yellow Rattle, Fairy Flax and Ladies Bedstraw. There were also plenty of butterflies and bees enjoying the flowers and I am sure many moths at night feeding on the nectar.
Unfortunately there is no public access at the moment due to the sheep still being in the field, they will be removed for a short time though and the gate will be left open to allow public access. In future years we hope to be able to open the gate for most of the flowering season but whilst the sheep are still bringing the more dominant plants under control a longer grazing period is required.
So, well done sheep and keep up the good work!

Friday, 30 May 2014

Wildlife camera

I put the camera trap up in a little visited part of the woods and left it there for about a month to see what wildlife was using the track that I spotted recently whilst doing some fence repairs.
I wasn't surprised to find that there were plenty of Fallow Deer as seen below,

Somewhat surprising was the sheer good fortune of catching footage of this Buzzard which just happened to land in the right place with its meal which looks like a Bank Vole.


Friday, 23 May 2014

Nordic Walking

There will be an introduction to Nordic walking session taking place on Wenlock Edge on Saturday 28th June at 10am. This is something that we have done plenty of times before and it is always popular and many participants have carried on Nordic walking afterwards.

There will be two instructors on hand to teach the basics of this activity that is suitable for people of all levels of fitness. It is a good way of keeping fit, burning more calories than simply walking and it is also a great way of walking well into old age. It can be also be used to re-introduce people to walking after an injury, we have had people before who had recently had both hips replaced.

The cost of the event is just £7 and this includes pole hire and basic tuition as well as a walk along the beautiful Wenlock Edge.

Booking is essential as places are limited either call 07948 072075 or e-mail chris.dunkerley@nationaltrust.org.uk

Sunday, 11 May 2014

May update

There has been lots going on here lately, rangers have busy and so have the birds.

We have moved our Hebridean sheep from a couple of our areas of limestone grassland to allow the flowers a chance to grow. You may have noticed if you have visited that there are still a few sheep in the area adjacent to the car park, this is because it hasn't been grazed for a few years and nettles and hogweed have become well established as well as certain grasses that outcompete the delicate flowers. A small sheep presence will remain for the next few weeks in the hope that they will keep the growth of these unwanted species to a minimum.

Timber has been sold, this has been done in the form of cut and split logs, deliveries of 3 metre lengths to local farms on our timber trailer and on lorries carrying 25 tonnes at a time. The timber is from our annual programme of sustainable woodland thinning work and is our only form of income at Wenlock Edge, it is vital for us to be able to carry on the conservation work that we do here.

Birds are nesting all over the woods with many of them making use of the nest boxes that we have put up over the last 5 years. The boxes are all checked by licenced bird ringers and so far we have found nests of Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Marsh Tit, Nuthatch and Pied Flycatcher. All chicks will have unique rings attached to a leg before it departs the nest so that future movements can be tracked.
The nests are all at different stages with some chicks being ready to ring i.e a few days from fledging whilst other are still having eggs layed in them.
Above is a Pied Flycatcher nest with plenty of room for a few more eggs to be layed yet. They are the only migratory species to nest in our boxes and we didn't even know that they used Wenlock Edge to breed until we started this project.

Sometimes the boxes are used by other creatures, in the past we have found wasps, bees, hornets and woodmice in them, nothing though can beat this
There are now 2 Dormice building their summer nests in our birdboxes, they are quite rare but there is a healthy population on Wenlock Edge. Dormice are arboreal meaning they spend their lives off the ground (apart from when they hibernate). They often build their nests in clumps of bramble or in hedgerows but do use specific Dormouse boxes (they have a hole on the back next to the stem of a tree). Its great to find them making use of empty bird boxes and the records we collect about them will add to our knowledge of the species on the Edge.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Easter Holidays

The Easter holidays well and truly upon us and so is some lovely weather, hopefully it will stay like this for the long bank holiday weekend.
There have been plenty of families making the most of the weather, walking, cycling and playing in the woods. The play trail (on the Lime Kiln walk, starting at the Presthope car park) is proving very popular with young children and the bird hide with plenty of birds visiting the feeders is keeping both adults and children entertained.

There are plenty of migratory species arriving and I have never heard so many Blackcaps, there are also Swallows, Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers.

We have been working on all sorts of jobs lately including, checking fences, rounding up and moving sheep, clearing fallen trees, delivering logs, filling feeders and litter picking. There are now 12 Hebridean sheep grazing the grassland in the car park on the edge of Much Wenlock, they will reduce the spread of nettles and hogweed and provide better conditions for the more delicate wildflowers.Whilst checking fences we were treated to some stunning views!

We are on Facebook so if you are planning a visit or have already been it would be great to hear from you, it would also be great to share your photos and sightings with others.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Spring on the edge

There are signs of Spring all over the woods now that the sun has decided to make a few appearances over the last week.
Birds are singing, defending territories and eyeing up those of the opposite sex, families are enjoying spending time in the great outdoors at the weekends and fresh green shoots are punching their way through last years leaf litter.

Its lovely to see and hear children enjoying being active in the woods on the new play trail around Presthope, it can be hard to encourage kids to join their parents on a walk especially with all the modern distractions such as TV and ipads etc. Hopefully these simple additions to the Lime Kiln walk will make it seem less like a walk for younger family members.

Birds are getting through plenty of seed at the bird hide as they prepare for the mating season, hopefully it will be a more productive season than the last two. There are 160 nest boxes all cleaned out and ready for use we and the birds could just do with this mild weather continuing.

There are many plants emerging at the moment including Lords and Ladies, Dogs Mercury and my favourite, Wild Garlic. It carpets the woodland floor with its lovely green leaves and fills the air with its wonderful aroma.

Photo: Wild Garlic is pushing its way through last years fallen leaves, it will soon carpet the woods with its lovely green foliage and distinctive aroma. This photo was taken beneath towering Oak trees in a little visited part of the Edge.

The leaves are used in cooking rather than the bulbs and we pick some for the National Trust tea room at Carding Mill Valley, they make garlic soup with it and this year will also be selling wild garlic pesto. Both of these should be on sale in the next few weeks.

The footpaths and bridleways have dried up really well in the sunshine and there are still plenty of views out to the wider countryside as the trees are still bare so its a great time to visit.