Friday, 30 December 2011

Potentially dangerous trees!

While the roads were quiet in the few days before Christmas we took the opportunity to remove some dangerous trees from along the B4371, the road that runs along the top of Wenlock Edge.
Most of the trees required a climber to go up them to cut branches off and attach the winch cable before they were felled, this is used simply to prevent the tree going the wrong way, unlikely but possible. We needed to stop the traffic very briefly as each tree was felled just in case something went wrong (a possibility when dealing with trees with possible rot or other hidden defects in the middle), by doing the work at this time disturbance to the public was kept to a minimum.

At the end of each day all the timber was removed from the site and will be sold as firewood, to raise the funds for future management of Wenlock Edge. By doing this work we have removed the risk of the trees failing in the future during high winds, blocking the road and possibly causing an accident.

The Wednesday and Thursday went really well and i took a few photos,


Friday was just wet, wet and then a bit wetter, i didn't take any more photos.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Round up of recent events.

Chelmarsh Bird Ringers came and spent a morning at the bird hide ringing birds, it was pretty successful, the catch included 1 Robin, 21 Blue Tit, 3 Coal Tit, 9 Great Tit, 3 Marsh Tit, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker. All the birds seemed to be in good condition with colourful plumage and good fat reserves which is hardly surprising considering the amount of food they are getting through!
Other birds seen recently include, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Redwing, Fieldfare, Nuthatch, Buzzard and Raven.

Woodland management work has been continuing with felling, winching and stacking of timber taking place. We have now finished thinning the area near Harley Bank which can be seen if you walk the 'Jenny Wind' route from the Much Wenlock National Trust car park. We have thinned it quite hard, removing most of the non-native Larch trees and some of the native species such as Ash and Birch. This has opened up some lovely views as well as allowing in more light to aid natural regeneration.

Shropshire and Staffordshire National Trust Conservation Volunteers (ssntcv) were back at Wenlock Edge on Sunday, cutting and burning scrub in an area of Limestone grassland. As ever they got loads of work done whilst having fun and eating cake! Pretty impressive stuff!

Friday, 9 December 2011

Bird ringing

There will be a bird ringing demonstration tommorrow morning (saturday) at the bird hide, we will be catching a variety of different woodland species, weighing and measuring them and putting a ring on their legs before releasing them again. We will definately get some Tits and hopefully a Woodpecker and Nuthatch, its a great chance to see these lovely birds up close.
The weather forecast looks good so it will be a lovely morning for a walk as well, the hide is near the Lime kilns, a 15 minute walk from Presthope Car Park. There is no charge and we will be starting at 09.00.

Monday, 5 December 2011

New Year Nordic Walking

On Saturday 28th January 2012 we will be hosting another 'Introduction to Nordic Walking' session on Wenlock Edge. It is a great activity and offers benefits to a wide variety of people, whether you want a new fitness activity that burns more calories than simply walking, want to continue walking into older age or after injury. There will be 2 instructors on hand to advise people on the correct technique and then lead us on a 1 hour walk along the Edge.
Nordic walking poles will be provided, there is a charge of £6 per person and booking is essential as places are limited, to book a place either e-mail chris.dunkerley@nationaltrust.org.uk or call 07948072075.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

After a very dry Summer and early Autumn in Shropshire there has been very little fungi about, that was until the last week. Now that we have had some rain the fungi has gone mad, popping up all over the place about 4 weeks later than normal. I took a few pictures today as i was out for a walk.
Orange Peel fungus

Emerging Shaggy Parasol
Fully formed Shaggy Parasol
Not sure about these, think they may be Oyster Mushrooms but will go for another look.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Stacks of wood

With the ground in the woods still fairly firm after the very dry summer, we have been taking the opportunity to extract timber from a recently thinned area of woodland before we get any serious amounts of rain and the ground goes wet and slippy.
The area we were working in has a shallow slope at the bottom, getting progressively steep further up the bank, to get the timber out we used our tractor to winch the lengths down onto the gentler slopes. we then cut it into 3 metre lengths and put it in small stacks so that Nathan of 'Home Forestry' could load them on to his 8 wheel drive 'Alstor' and stack them at the bottom of the hill in a big stack.
The timber will be sold as firewood, it takes a lot of time and effort keeping people warm!
National Trust tractor wiching off the steeper slopes

Full load on the Alstor
Stacking up nicely

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Another night in the woods

Anyone interested in going for a walk with a difference should meet at Presthope Car Park at 7pm on Thursday with a torch.
We will walk through the woods by torchlight for about an hour and a half, hopefully seeing or hearing some wildlife along the way. It is a completely different experience to walking in daylight and is one that many people don't get chance to do.
The cost is £5, there is no need to book but please bring a decent torch with you.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Wenlock Edge Wander

There will be a 6 mile walk from Wilderhope Manor on Saturday 26th November at 09.30. Led by a National Trust Ranger, the route will cross farmland and woodland on and around Wenlock Edge. There will be uneven ground and possibly the odd hill* so suitable footwear should be worn.
The walk will cost £5 and will take about 2.5 hours, to book a place either e-mail chris.dunkerley@nationaltrust.org.uk or call 07948 072075

* There will definately be at least one hill

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

2012 Marathon

I am now giving some thought to the 2012 Wenlock Marathon that the National Trust are organising, I have an idea of the route but need to spend some time running sections and checking distances. I think that it will follow a similar route to that used on 'Over the Edge' but with a couple of loops off the edge to gain the extra 9ish miles. I need to work out where to have the finish as there are a few interesting ideas to ponder over.
I will update the blog with any news as soon as i have it.
For now the only bits that are definately sorted are the date 8th July and the distance 26.2 miles (or as close as possible). There may also be a half marathon but again this needs discussing.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Dont be afraid of the dark?

On Thursday 3rd of November at 7pm i will be standing in the Wenlock Edge Inn car park with a headtorch on. I will then go for a walk in the woods for an hour and a half  to see what wildlife is about, i would expect to hear Tawny owls, and may be lucky and hear rutting deer. There is also a chance that badgers will be encountered, of course i may see and hear nothing but i will have a great walk. Going out in the woods at night is such an amazing experience and even paths that you know really well are completely different after dark and clear nights offer wonderful views of the solar system.
If you think that this sounds fun, why not join me?
Cost is £5 per person and there is no need to book but you will need a torch

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Over the Edge

Well done to everyone who took part in our 'Over the Edge' event yesterday. It was a brilliant day and everyone, participants and marshalls seemed to enjoy it.

A simple idea of creating an event that enabled people to travel by foot, along the length of Wenlock Edge in one go led to months of planning by National Trust staff, volunteers, local runners and walkers. There were a busy few days leading up to the event including checking equipment, briefing marshalls, making soup and waymarking the route but by 6am we were ready, the weather was ideal with cloudy skies, light winds but no rain, now all we needed were the 200+ participants.
After parking on the edge of Much Wenlock entrants were transported to Craven Arms by coach where they were given a quick briefing before setting off on their journey back to Much Wenlock.
There was a fun feel to the event with marshalls reporting on how friendly everyone was and participants saying how great the marshalls were. There were 35 volunteer marshalls out on the route, giving out water, checking numbers, helping at road crossings, parking cars etc, the event couldn't have happened without them so thankyou all.
Wilderhope Manor checkpoint which is about 10 miles into the route provided tea, coffee and flapjack, giving people a well earned energy boost for the final 7 miles to the finish
At the finish there was soup and a roll for all, and the great weather allowed people to sit around and socialise, making for a really friendly atmosphere
If you have any comments you can e-mail me at chris.dunkerley@nationaltrust.org.uk.

Thankyou to Bulldog Security and Reynolds Transport for helping out with parking and Wenlock Spring for donating water for all finishers.
Photo's are on Alastair Tye's website, Thanks Al.

http://www.fellrunningpictures.co.uk/overtheedge2011.html


Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Over the Edge

Only a few days to go now until our 17.5 mile challenge event along the length of Wenlock Edge. The event is fully booked with 230 people taking on the challenge. The paths are in a wonderful condition, with months of dry weather they are all pretty dry and should provide enjoyable walking or running. The weather forecast looks good at the moment, we are currently looking at 17 degrees with 20mph winds from the south, there will be cloud but no rain. Obviously this can all change and i will update this message every time the forecast changes between now and then.
Where possible please consider car sharing to reduce the carbon footprint of the event and ease traffic in the area.
Looking forward to seeing everyone on Sunday!
Chris

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Autumn wildlife

With cooler nights back upon us and the very hot daytime temperatures replaced by more average October figures the woods feel Autumnul again. The Winter Jackdaw roost that circles over Presthope for an hour before finally settling on a place to spend the night is growing and has over 100 noisy birds in it. Redwing are arriving from Scandinavia, they migrate at night time and can sometimes be heard going overhead in the dark making 'tsee' noises, 80 were seen along Blakeway Hollow the other day. I heard a male Fallow deer roaring in Northway wood a couple of days ago signalling that the rut is well under way. He was a splendid sight with a wonderful set of antlers, 5 females were close by, constantly under his gaze as he waited for his chance to mate.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Volunteer Weekend

We have just enjoyed a 3 day visit from the Shropshire and Staffordshire National Trust Volunteers (ssntv).  They have spent their time clearing invasive scrub from an area of species rich limestone grassland, Hawthorn and Blackthorn have been shading out the wildflowers and needed to be cleared to allow the flowers and grasses to re-colonise. By lunchtime on Friday a fire was blazing and a large area was already cleared, fueled by a huge variety of cakes at lunchtime progress continued well in the afternoon, the results of day 1 can be seen below.
Before SSNTV
After SSNTV

On Saturday a couple of extra volunteers joined those who were present on Friday so even more scrub succumbed to the fire that was ressurected from the day before. I think it was homemade flapjack and chocolate cake that provided vital energy for the afternoon session which saw a second fire lit and another section of scrub attacked.


Today i thought we would have a little change first thing, so a few laps of the field trying to round our Hebridean sheep up were had. We needed to reduce the number of sheep in the field to ensure that there is enough grass to sustain some sheep over the Winter. We managed to round up 10 of the 17 sheep in the field and so it was decided that the number to be left in the field for the Winter would be 7.
Then it was back to the fires and one particularly dense corner of the field which provided entertainment for the final afternoon session. With the job finished the group of weary looking volunteers departed having spent 3 days improving the habitat, making a real difference to the local flora. I'm so grateful for all the hard work that they have put in and its great that they get so much enjoyment from it. I'm really looking forward to their next visit in December.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Over the Edge Update

The closing date for booking a place on Over the Edge, Saturday 1st October is fast approaching, i am however aware that plenty of entries are still coming in and some people have only just heard about it and are thinking about entering. I don't want anyone to miss out and so the closing date has been put back by a week to 8th October. There are currently 197 paid up entrants so it looks like its going to be a great event, we need to inform the coach company how many coaches we need so unfortunately will not be able to take bookings any later.
There will be refreshments for sale in the National Trust car park where the event finishes so if any family or friends are waiting for people to finish they can get hot drinks, cake etc. These will also be available to participants who feel they deserve more than their soup etc that is included in the price of the event.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Autumn in the woods

Well, the leaves are falling and the mornings are lovely and crisp so it must be Autumn.
Its a beautiful time for getting out in the woods no matter what your doing whether its walking, running or cycling, with crisp leaves on the ground and constantly improving views out through the trees as they shed more and more in the Autumnul winds.
There is lots to see within the woods, its a good time to see fungi both on the ground, on old tree stumps and on living trees. Large, mixed flocks of tits with tree creepers mixed in are moving through the woods, whilst a few Chiffchaffs still linger, feeding up before heading south.
Its quite quiet on the bird feeders at the moment as there are so many nuts and berries available throughout the woods. It is still worth putting out some food as it will soon pick up and become very busy. It also worth collecting surplus apples and wrapping them in newspaper to feed to Thrushes in the Winter months when natural food becomes very scarce. I did this last year and on Christmas day during the lengthy cold spell had 17 Blackbirds and 5 Fieldfare in the garden at the same time!
It will not be long until we see an influx of birds from Scandinavia including Robins, Fieldfare, Redwing and Woodcock.
Deer rutting will be getting underway soon, look out for prints in the mud or the actual animal if your lucky and quiet.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Late Summer wildlife

Whilst it is a fairly quiet time for birds on the Edge with many summer migrants having departed and the Winter birds not here yet there is still plenty to see.
Autumn colours are appearing around the woods with some leaves already falling, especially during the recent windy weather.
I found a Slow Worm crossing a footpath at Presthope, although it looks like a Snake it is actually a legless Lizard, not in the drunk sense! There is more info about them here.
I also found a good display of Travellers Joy which is also known as Old Mans Beard due to the appearance of the fluffy seed heads. It is a characteristic plant of limestone soils where it is common in hedgerows, It can often be easily identified alongside roads from a passing car.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Wenlock wander

On Sunday 9th of October i will be leading a walk on and around Wenlock Edge. It will be about 8 miles long and will take about two and a half hours.
The walk will use some of the lesser used paths, hopefully giving people an insight into the wonderful walks that can be devised if you leave the waymarked trails.
The walk will start at 1pm at the National Trust car park on the outskirts of Much Wenlock and will cost £5.
e-mail me at chris.dunkerley@nationaltrust.org.uk or call 07948 072075 if you are interested.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Nordic Walking

I would like to invite Nordic Walkers to come for a walk on Wenlock Edge on Saturday the 8th of October at 11 am. This is for people who have previously tried Nordic Walking and have their own Nordic* poles as none will be provided.
We will meet at the National Trust car park on the outskirts of Much Wenlock before heading out for a walk which will last about an hour and a half.
There is no need to book and there is no cost, simply turn up with your poles if you fancy it. I hope that this will become a regular thing if enough people are interested.
If you would like more info or directions you can e-mail me at chris.dunkerley@nationaltrust.org.uk

*Nordic poles are different to trekking poles

There are still places left on our introduction to Nordic Walking session on Saturday 10th September at 10am. The cost is £6 and Nordic Walking poles are provided. Please e-mail me on the above address for more info.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Bank Holiday Sunday

We are going to have another go at bird ringing tomorrow morning so long as the weather is ok. If you are in the area between 7.30am and 10.30am why not pop along to the bird hide (near Presthope Car Park) where hopefully you will be able to see some birds up close.
This won't take place if it is raining as we wouldn't risk the birds getting cold and wet.

There will also be two guided walks taking place at 10am and 2pm starting from Presthope Car Park they will last about 1.5 hours and cost just £2 per person. Learn about the history, flora and fauna of Wenlock Edge.
This will take place whatever the weather as it doesn't matter if a Ranger gets cold and wet.


Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Wenlock Edge book launch

A wonderful book has been put together telling the story of Wenlock Edge including chapters on how it was formed, historical land use, flora and fauna and current management. It is a beautiful book, packed with interesting information and backed up with stunning photo's of the Edge.
It would make a lovely gift for anyone who lives locally, visits regularly or even those who have only spent a short time enjoying the area. It is one of those books that you will love to have on the coffee table.

There is a book launch on September 8th at Priory Hall Much Wenlock from 7-9pm where there will be cheese and wine and of course the opportunity to purchase a copy.
It would be useful to have an idea of numbers so if coming please e-mail chris.dunkerley@nationaltrust.org.uk

Monday, 22 August 2011

Bird Ringing

Last week we did a spot of bird ringing, the aim was to catch a few migratory species before they head back South for the Winter. If the birds are caught again as they migrate or at their destination it will give us a better idea of the routes they take and the conditions of the habitat they are using. This can flag up any problems as the birds are weighed and measured before being ringed and each subsequent time they are caught, the weights can then be compared. The birds are now starting to move South slowly, feeding up as they go on berries, small insects and flies, they are trying to put on fat reserves to increase their chances of migrating successfully.
To catch the birds we erected a mist net and then played a recording of Chiffchaffs and Willow warblers to draw the birds towards the net, the nets cause no harm and all birds are extracted by trained bird ringers.
We had a very successful few hours with the first bird being a bit of a surprise, a Spotted Flycatcher had by chance hit the net. It turned out that the bird was one of this years young, it has therefore started the very long journey South to Africa for the first time.
We also ringed Willow Warblers, Chiffchaff, Blue tit and a very young Robin that still didn't have a red chest.
Juvenile Willow Warbler

Bird Feeder news!

If you have news on our missing bird feeder you can e-mail me at chris.dunkerley@nationaltrust.org.uk
There are still 2 feeders up at the bird hide so it is still worth a visit.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Over The Edge

Plenty of entries are coming in for our 17.5-18 mile challenge event on the 23rd of October from both walkers and runners.
If you don't know the details they are as follows;
As part of the National Trust’s Walking Festival later this year, there will be an 18 mile walk or run along Wenlock Edge on 23 October 2011.

This is a new and exciting venture encouraging people to get out and about and explore a natural feature that is actually visible from space.


Participants will assemble at Much Wenlock and be transported to Craven Arms by coach where the walk will start taking in Wilderhope Manor, an Elizabethan country house as well as passing through semi-natural ancient woodlands with great views across the Shropshire countryside.


The walk will finish at historic Much Wenlock, the birthplace of the modern Olympiad.


Chris Dunkerley, Assistant Ranger for the National Trust on Wenlock Edge, said: “This event is a great way of encouraging people to be active in the great outdoors and to enjoy this beautiful landscape. It’s a great place for doing physical exercise and beats going to the gym.


“It is hoped that next year this event will be expanded into a full marathon reflecting the fact that the 2012 Olympic Games are taking place in London.”


The walk costs £12.50 per person which includes refreshments and coach transfer, it is open to walkers and runners over the age of 14. 14 -18 year olds must be accompanied by an adult.
To book your place either call Emily Knight on 01694 725000 or e-mail
emily.knight@nationaltrust.org.uk

Friday, 29 July 2011

Wood Wasps and fungi

We are currently creating another viewpoint on the Edge to give visitors wonderful vistas of the Shropshire countryside, we are also thinning the trees out to allow the better trees to have more room, light and nutrients. A lot of Lime trees are growing in this area which, whilst they are not rare trees are less common than Ash, on Wenlock Edge at least, it will be great to see them thrive now they aren't crowded by low quality trees. The photo below shows how the view looked at the start of the work, i will post another photo when it is finished.

We are removing most of the non-native conifers from this area, these are ideal for turning into fence posts, as we were cutting the lengths of timber into fence posts today there were a few Giant Wood Wasps about, probably attracted to the smell of cut timber. The females lay eggs in the timber using a large ovipositor on their rear end, i don't believe that they sting people!



I also saw this fungus, its called Dryads Saddle and it often grows on Ash or Elm stems, they are visible between June and September so look out for them around the woods.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Orchids of the Edge

There has been a good display of Orchids on Wenlock Edge as usual this year, species that can be found include, Pyramidal, Common Spotted, Greater Butterfly and Bee Orchids. These species can be seen along the woodland edge and in our species rich Limestone Grassland. Good places to go looking are, the path that runs along the top of Lea Quarry and the car park on the outskirts of Much Wenlock.
Bee Orchid
Pyramidal Orchid
Common Spotted Orchid

Some Orchids are more easily overlooked as they are a little less showy and grow in the woods these include Violet Helleborines and Twayblade Orchid which have yellowish-green flowers which look like a human, so although they don't stand out particularly well they are interesting once found.
There are plenty of other wildflowers to see at the moment including, Nettle Leaved Bellflowers, Ladies Mantle, Dyers Greenweed, Crosswort, Salad Burnet and Knapweed.

I also spotted a Robin's Pincushion recently which is a growth on rose's that i caused by a tiny Gall Wasp. The wasp lays its eggs on the stem of the rose and as the larva feed on it the rose reacts by producing a moss like ball around it. there is more information about them here.
Robins Pincussion on Dogrose

Friday, 8 July 2011

Nordic Walking coming soon

We will be staging another 'Introduction to Nordic Walking' session on Saturday the 10th of September. This is a great way of learning the basics of this fantastic low impact fitness activity in the beautiful landscape of Wenlock Edge. Whether you are looking for a new fitness activity, are wanting to get out more after an injury or break from walking or are simply wanting to find out what Nordic Walking is all about this introduction could be for you!
There will be 2 instructors on hand to guide you through the basic techniques, poles will be provided and the session will last for approximately 2 hours including a 1 hour walk along Wenlock Edge.
All this will cost just £6 per person, booking is essential as numbers are limited.
To book your place call Chris on 07948072075 or e-mail chris.dunkerley@nationaltrust.org.uk

Monday, 27 June 2011

Latest news

Last week we winched some timber off part of the hill, cut it into 3 metre lengths and stacked it at the side of the track. It will now season (dry out) for 18 months before becoming firewood, as you can see from the photo below there was no drying out taking place whilst we worked.

Also last week i ran from Craven Arms to Much Wenlock, along Wenlock Edge, making notes about directions for our event on 23rd October. I also took a few photos so participants can get an idea of the wonderful views that they will be able to enjoy and the type of terrain.

Today we were doing some work near to where Rushbury School have been tree planting so we decided to take a look at how they were doing, the results are brilliant as the photos below show.
6 month old Cherry emerging from protective guard.
18 month old Cherry surrounded by a lovely display of Foxgloves

18 month old Wild Service tree surrounded by Rangers!







Saturday, 11 June 2011

Fancy a challenge?

Challenge yourself with a walk over the edge

A South Shropshire landmark is set to host a challenging event as part of a national drive to get people out and about.

As part of the National Trust’s Walking Festival later this year, there will be an 18 mile walk or run along Wenlock Edge on 23 October 2011. 
This is a new and exciting venture encouraging people to get out and about and explore a natural feature that is actually visible from space.

Participants will assemble at Much Wenlock and be transported to Craven Arms by coach where the walk will start taking in Wilderhope Manor, an Elizabethan country house as well as passing through semi-natural ancient woodlands with great views across the Shropshire countryside. 

The walk will finish at historic Much Wenlock, the birthplace of the modern Olympiad.

Chris Dunkerley, Assistant Ranger for the National Trust on Wenlock Edge, said: “This event is a great way of encouraging people to be active in the great outdoors and to enjoy this beautiful landscape. It’s a great place for doing physical exercise and beats going to the gym.

 “It is hoped that next year this event will be expanded into a full marathon reflecting the fact that the 2012 Olympic Games are taking place in London.”

The walk costs £12.50 per person which includes refreshments and coach transfer, it is open to walkers and runners over the age of 14. 14 -18 year olds must be accompanied by an adult.

The National Trust are also looking for volunteers to help marshal at the event, Emily Knight, Visitor Services Manager says “volunteers are vital to our organisation and this is a great event for people to get involved in.”

For more information and to book either call: 01694 725000 or e-mail: emily.knight@nationaltrust.org.uk

Monday, 6 June 2011

Views and Vols

Last week we created a new viewpoint by felling a few trees close to a footpath junction so that people can enjoy fine views of the Shropshire countryside. If you walk along the waymarked 'Jenny Wind' walk from the car park on the outskirts of Much Wenlock you should find it, after walking beneath an area that has lots of felled trees on the ground you will reach a path junction, divert off the route down the path on your right for about 20 metres to get the best of the view.
I was lucky enough to be back working at the viewpoint this afternoon and managed to get a photo, we just need a seat there now!

The Wolverhampton National Trust Conservation Volunteers visited on Sunday, constructing 32 regular bird boxes and a Kestrel box. The boxes will be used by nesting birds next Spring but may well also be used in the Winter for roosting on really cold nights, several birds may share the same box to keep warm.
It was a really good day although the group worked so hard that we ran out of wood just after lunch time, so after putting some of the boxes up and a walk round the woods it was an early finish. I hope to see the group again in the Autumn.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Birds, Bees and Butterflies...and some moths!

Had a lovely walk this morning around the woods at Presthope and along the top of Lea quarry looking at birds, bees and butterflies. It was as part of a series of guided walks on the Edge and whilst the wind was a little cool and blowy there was still plenty to see.
We started off by looking at some moths that we had caught in a moth trap the previous night, there was a good selection considering the overnight conditions were a little chilly. There were none of the big, instantly impressive Hawk moths but there were plenty of smaller but equally interesting species including, Buff Ermine, Nut Tree Tussock, The Spectacle (named due to the fact that if you look at it head on it looks like it is wearing glasses) and Pale Prominent. The Pale Prominent looked just like a rolled up brown leaf and just goes to show how easy it is to overlook these beautiful creatures.
Buff Ermine

Also in the trap was a Cockchafer beetle otherwise known as a Maybug, these insects are on the wing in May and June (hence the name). The larva live in the soil feeding on the roots of grasses and plants whilst adults feed on the leaves of trees. They do not bite or sting although they do look like they might.

We then spent 10 minutes in the bird hide, watching the activity on the feeders, birds seen there included, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Nuthatch, Chaffinch, Robin, Blue Tit and Great Tit.
With the help of Caroline, the National Trusts ecologist and Ian, county recorder of Bees we found a fairly wide variety of Bees, Flies and Butterflies along the top of Lea Quarry, species included, Common Blue and Dingy Skipper butterflies, Common Carder and Tree Bumble Bee. We were also lucky enough to spot a Queen Hornet which was struggling through the strong wind.
Dingy Skipper

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Cutting and ringing

We spent much of today snipping Hawthorn regrowth off in an area of limestone grassland, the reason we needed to do this was because there were not enough sheep in the field grazing last summer.
We had previously cut down mature Hawthorn trees as they were shading out the wildflowers, the sheep which will usually eat the shoots as they re-grow whilst they are soft were in too few numbers, this allowed the shoots to become woody and tough and therefore unpalatable. Now that they have been re-cut we need to keep plenty of sheep in the field so that it doesn't happen again, lesson learned! The sheep will eat a few of the flowers but certainly not all of them, it is worth losing a very small percentage of the flowers this year for the overall good of the grassland long term.

Volunteers John and Rob doing what the sheep didn't!
This evening i joined Stuart from Chelmarsh Bird Ringers as he checked the progress of some bird box occupants. He ringed the chicks from some of the boxes as they were about 8 days old whilst others he will have to re-visit in a few days as the chicks were still too small. Clutch size appears to be a little smaller than last Spring with 8 eggs being about average, last year it was more like 10.
Please do not look in bird boxes at this time of year, you need special training and a licence. The pictures below aren't great as i didn't want to mess about too long and disturb the birds.
Blue Tit sitting on 6 chicks in the box next to the bird hide.

6 Nuthatches nearly big enough to be ringed.

Friday, 13 May 2011

The birds and the trees

Although the blog hasn't been updated much recently we have been busy On Wenlock Edge, in fact thats the reason i haven't had any spare time to write about it.
We have been selling firewood, in the form of trailer loads of cut and split logs as well as an articulated lorry load.
We have also been replacing some stock fencing to stop cows from nibbling a recently laid hedge, giving guided walks, litter picking and erecting a gate.
Linda and Stuart of Chelmarsh Bird Ringers are currently being kept busy checking bird boxes, of the 160 boxes we have put up around the woods about 80% are being used. All the chicks will have tiny rings fitted to their left legs before they fledge, this allows us to see whether they stay on the Edge or move elsewhere. If they are ever caught again the unique number on the ring can be traced back to the area of Wenlock Edge that they were raised, we will get notification of any re-catches. You need a license to check nest boxes so do not be tempted to look in any, i'll get some pictures and put them on the blog over the next week.
Species using the boxes include Blue Tit, Great Tit, Marsh Tit, Nuthatch, Redstart and possibly Pied Flycatcher.
Currently eggs are just hatching, chicks are ringed at about 8 days and can fledge after about 10 days. The box that is clearly visible to the left of the bird hide at Presthope has a brood of Blue Tits in it, it will be interesting watching the adult birds comings and goings speeding up over the next week.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Nordic Walking

Only 2 places left on each Nordic Walking session this coming Saturday, see below if you want to join us.
Keeping or getting fit in the outdoors is wonderful and the amazing scenery just adds to the experience.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Nordic Walking

On Saturday the 14th May we are hosting two introduction to Nordic Walking sessions at Wenlock Edge.
It is a great opportunity to try this fast growing low impact sport that offers almost a full body workout.
There will be 2 instructors on hand to show us how its done and ensure that participants are using the correct, most efficient technique. The session will last for between about 2 hours, 45 minutes will be used to equip people with the correct size poles and teach the basics, this will be followed by a walk lasting for about 1 hour. There will then be time to ask questions of the instructors.
This introduction will be available for a price of just £6 per person and includes pole hire, sessions start at 10am and 1pm. Booking is essential as places are limited, either e-mail chris.dunkerley@nationaltrust.org.uk or call 07948072075

WNTCV

Over the two previous Bank Holiday weekends i have had the pleasure of Two visits from the Wolverhampton National Trust Conservation Volunteers. We carried out the last bits of scrub clearance for a few months, taking particular care that there were no nesting birds near the area we were working in.
One of the days was spent in Lea quarry, continuing clearing invasive Bramble and Hawthorn whilst the other was spent at Roman Bank opening up a glade and sunny ride for the benefit of Butterflies and wild flowers. To finish the day off we all rounded up the 6 Hebridean sheep in the field opposite the Wenlock Edge Inn, this worked out at a ratio of one on one! Fortunately the sheep realised that they had no choice but to behave themselves and were soon in the trailer. They needed moving so that the wildflowers have a chance to flower for a few months.
The results on both days were amazing as was the weather and the Easter eggs and the group have made a hugely positive impact on the Edge over the past few months. I'm looking forward to seeing the group again in June when we will be making bird boxes.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Todays big event!

As the sun rose this morning 14 people met in the National Trust car park at Presthope to enjoy the wonderful sounds of the dawn chorus. Led by Martin George from CJ's Wildbird food we wandered through the woods, stopping occasionally as he pointed out to us which birds we could hear. Blackcaps, Blackbirds and a Pied Flycatcher were amongst the species that we encountered early on, all staking a claim to their particular territories.
We then headed out along the top of Lea Quarry, this offered a different habitat and with it different species. Willow Warbler, Linnet and Whitethroat were all encountered before we headed back into the woods to visit the bird hide. The feeders at the hide are much quieter now than they were just a few weeks ago as birds are busy nesting and there is more natural food about. We heard Nuthatch, Chiffchaff and Goldcrest as we headed back towards the car park, it was a thoroughly enjoyable and informative few hours and i hope to be able to repeat the event next year.
Full list of species seen/heard
Blackcap,
Blackbird,
Song Thrush,
Pied Flycatcher,
Wren,
Martin talks to the group.
Robin,
Goldcrest,
Linnet,
Raven,
Jackdaw,
Mallard,
Great Tit,
Blue Tit,
Nuthatch,
Whitethroat,
Jay,
Magpie,
Dunnock,
Chiffchaff,
Willow Warbler,
Carrion Crow,
Pheasant,
Wood Pigeon,

Monday, 25 April 2011

Dawn Chorus Walk

Wenlock Edge
Dawn Chorus Walk, Fri 29th April
There are still places available for our dawn chorus walk this coming Friday, i'm sure it will very enjoyable and informative and a lovely way of starting the Bank Holiday weekend.
Come and enjoy the sound of the woods waking up, on a guided walk with a local bird expert, Martin George from CJ's wild bird feed and a National Trust Ranger.

We will hear and identify many resident birds and migratory species as we wander through the wood and visit the bird hide and feeding station.

Meet at Presthope Car Park at 6am,
Duration approx 2 hours,
Cost £4
Booking is essential as numbers are limited, call Chris on 07948072075,

Friday, 15 April 2011

Milling, winching and moving timber.

The woodmill was on site on Wednesday turning felled trees into usable products, i thought we might get round to cutting some of the timber that we recently felled next to the power lines but in the end we had enough Ash to cut to keep the mill busy all day. The planked Ash is all being bought by a carpenter, Anthony Jones who is based in Bishops Castle. He will kiln dry the timber before using it to made interior doors and floorboards. We will have another day of milling soon to get through the rest of the timber.
The sawmill was operated by Nathan  of  Home Forestry.
Nathan was also back in the woods on Thursday and Friday but this time with a different machine, his mini forwarder can get to most parts of the wood, even on steep slopes. This allows easy extraction of timber that has already been cut into short lengths, it is then transported down the hill and stacked so that it can season.
Whilst this was taking place we continued winching lengths of timber down from the steeper slopes where even Nathan can't get to.