Wednesday, 18 December 2013

It's Nearly Christmas!

Hi, I suppose I'd better introduce myself. I'm Rebecca and I'm going to be assisting Chris with his rangering until the end of February. Just a little bit about myself: I'm originally from Devon and have been volunteering with the National Trust on the South Devon Countryside property for the last seven months. Prior to that I was volunteering on Dartmoor with Natural England after graduating with a degree in geology in September 2011. I absolutely love working in the countryside and hope to have a great career in conservation.

It's only my second week here but Chris and I have already been hard at work maintaining the Edge. As winter is drawing in and the weather is getting worse we've been busy removing trees or branches that are likely to fall into the roads or footpaths with the winds and snows, as well as the general thinning and coppicing work required to maintain the woodland. Last Sunday we had the excellent help of the South Shropshire National Trust Volunteers, coppicing and burning material along the path at Granham's Mount (pics below).



Work has also started on the improvements to the main Wenlock Edge car park, improving access to the bridleway and allowing the sheep to graze the site safely, improving the limestone grassland on the site. So far we have felled and burned several overhanging trees on the site, added a new gateway and started installing the fence that will prevent the sheep from getting in the way of cars. In the new year work will be done to create the new access path and increase the number of parking spaces on the site.

 Chris using the post-banger to knock in fence posts.
 A massive Hawthorn to tow to the burn site, but the tractor handles it easily!

It's a lean time of year for the wildlife, which is great for us as it attracts plenty of birds to the feeders such as tits, nuthatches, chaffinches, green-finches and woodpeckers. There are also nuts and berries on some of the trees, like the hawthorn and holly, attracting lots of wintering birds like field-fares and red-wings.

 A Great Spotted Woodpecker on the peanut feeder.
 A Red-wing making the most of the Hawthorn berries.

We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
See you in 2014!


Friday, 22 November 2013

The view from my office

This afternoon i was moving timber around with the tractor in the woods, eventually i emerged out of the trees to be met by a wonderful sunset.


Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Woodland work

Today was a brilliant day at work! I have been spending quite a lot of time in the office lately and while this ok and a necessity of the job it isn't as good as being outdoors, especially on a crisp Autumn day, felling trees and carrying out conservation work.

I was working with two volunteers on the edge of a block of woodland that is soon to be thinned (removing the weaker trees to give the better ones more room and allowing natural regeneration to take place). Out task was to take out the trees that would fall onto the track and burn up the brash, this means that once the thinning work begins properly no time will be lost clearing the path of brash. (i hope that makes sense).


 
We made quite a difference!

Lovely Autumn colours and a puff of smoke from our work site.



Late afternoon sun catches some Larch on Wenlock Edge.



The view from the top of the Edge
 

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Seasonal treats

The woods on Wenlock Edge look stunning at the moment due to the fantastic Autumn colours. It has been a great display for the last few weeks and will probably last for another week or so, depending on what weather we get this week.
Looking great at the moment are the bright yellow needles of Larch, the only conifer i know of thats sheds its needles and the golden brown of the Beech. Both of these species can be seen on our waymarked routes from the National Trust car parks on the Edge, so whether you are planning a run or walk now is a great time to visit. If cycling or horse riding are your preferred modes of travel then our bridleways also offer these aesthetic delights.
Beech leaves
If you can take your eyes off the trees and look down at the ground there is plenty of fungus about, it can be tricky to spot amongst the fallen leaves but it is really interesting (honestly) and worth the effort.
Purple Jellydisc
Fairy Inkcap

The feeders at the bird hide are now getting busier, regular visitors include Great Spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatch, seen below.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Car park improvements

Below is a copy of a poster that we have put up in the National Trust car park on the outskirts of Much Wenlock, it is to inform people about our plans for improving the grassland within the car park and access to Blakeway Hollow.
Improvement of flower rich grassland


The species rich limestone grassland in this car park has the potential to be improved if it is managed in a slightly different way.

After a recent review of some of our land management practices we have decided that, rather than the current labour intensive management it would be better done by grazing it at certain times of the year.

By using our flock of Hebridean sheep it will reduce nutrient levels in the soil, preventing the growth of rank vegetation and favouring delicate wildflowers.

As part of this plan we are also hoping to create a new access to Blakeway Hollow that will be easier to negotiate than the current flight of steps, providing access for all to the network of footpaths and bridleways on Wenlock Edge.

In order to carry out these plans it will be necessary to erect a fence to ensure that the sheep don’t make use of this new access into the woods! The proposed line of the new fence can be seen on the attached map.

If you would like to discuss this with a member of staff there will be an opportunity on Sunday 3rd November between 10am and 2pm in the Car Park.

If this date is not convenient please e-mail your comments to chris.dunkerley@nationaltrust.org.uk
 
Unfortunately i was unable to add the map to the blog but the posters can be viewed in the car park or if you e-mail the above address i can send you a copy of the map.
 
 

Thursday, 24 October 2013

At last an update!

Although the blog hasn't been updated recently it doesn't mean that we haven't been busy! We have been felling a block of big Grand Fir trees alongside the old railway line in Northway wood. The trees are fast growing and as a consequence the timber is quite weak, about 300 tonnes of it has now been taken away on lorries and turned into pallets.
We have also been delivering logs to our local clients as they prepare for the colder months to come.
On Tuesday we felled some Larch trees in Easthope wood from the edge of the old railway line with the help of our Tuesday volunteers, this will allow more light in which will benefit wildlife such as butterflies. This was Rob's last day with us as he is moving down to North Devon, he has been volunteering with us for over three years and has been a great asset to the property. He has also been very busy maintaining footpaths and rights of way in the Much Wenlock area and he will be greatly missed, however our loss is North Devon's gain and i am sure he will continue with his volunteering down there.
Despite the early rain a lovely fire was lit to dispose of the brash that fell on the bridleway and good progress was made. The Larch was cut into lengths and will soon be sold and will leave the wood on a lorry. By selling timber, whether it be to a sawmill or as firewood we are able to bring in some income to help fund our conservation work.

I make it 23 years old
 

Saturday, 28 September 2013

weekend workparty


Today was day two of the Shropshire and Staffordshire National Trust Volunteers three day work party on Wenlock Edge. We continued where we left off yesterday, coppicing along the edge of the old railway line in Easthope wood. This has made using the bridleway much more pleasant as it is more open and once we have felled a few larger trees (mainly Larch) should open up a great viewpoint towards the Stretton hills. Butterflies and wildflowers such as primroses should also benefit from the increased light levels that this work has created.

 Finding suitable fire sites was a little tricky and led to lots of dragging being required, fortunately the tractor was on hand to assist with the movement of brash.
 
This is the view i had from the tractor just before delivering another load of brash to the volunteers.
Not all of it ended up on the fire, we also cut some hedging stakes and binders for hedge laying.
 
As usual the group got loads of work done for which we are really grateful, tomorrow we move to a new site, creating a viewpoint in Northway wood.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Deer

Whilst checking some footage on the camera trap i found something interesting recently. We know that Fallow deer and Muntjac deer are present in the woods but we weren't sure if there were any other species about.
The footage below shows a male or buck Roe deer in the woods at Presthope. It is possible to identify it by the distinctive shape of its white rump (males being kidney shaped whilst females are heart shaped) and the antlers are different to the palmate antlers of the Fallow bucks.

 
Roe deer are common further South but not so in Shropshire, they are one of only two species of truly native deer in the uk, the other being Red deer.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

free food!

It is a brilliant year for fruit and currently there is an abundance of blackberries ready for picking throughout the woods.
They are great in pies, crumbles, jam, smoothies or simply on their own freshly picked. So if you are heading out into the woods soon, bring a container or two and simply look out for patches of bramble, watch out for the thorns and pick away.
 
As well as being delicious to us, birds also use blackberries as in important source of food. Blackbirds are gorging themselves on them and they are also eaten by migratory birds such as Blackcap and Whitethroat as they build up their fat reserves before departing for warmer climates. Please leave a few for them !

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Over the Edge Challenge

Entries are now open for our annual Over the Edge Challenge, an 18 mile walk or run along the length of Wenlock Edge from Craven Arms to Much Wenlock on Sunday 13th October. The route follows waymarked footpaths and bridleways through woodland and farmland, there will be refreshments along the way and at the finish. A coach will transport participants from Much Wenlock to the start in Craven Arms. This is a great way of travelling along the Edge in one go through the variety of different habitats, there is a lovely atmosphere between participants and marshalls and as it is not a race there is always plenty of chatting and banter.

The cost of the event is £15.50 and this includes refreshments and coach travel, booking in advance is essential and can be done by e-mailing overtheedge@nationaltrust.org.uk or calling 01694725001.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Butterflies

The importance of being slightly untidy in parts of the garden was highlighted today. Wildlife programmes such as Springwatch are constantly telling us that a small area of the garden set aside for wildlife is very important no matter how small. There is an area within a wildflower meadow that i recently didn't cut with the strimmer as there was a nice patch of Teasel and i like to leave it for the Goldfinches in the Winter as they love the seed. I went for a quick look today at it and it was absolutely stunning, full of bees and butterflies, mainly Peacock butterflies which seen to be having a good year. I took loads of photos, some of which are below.




Sunday, 4 August 2013

Bird hide sightings

Apologies to anyone who visited the bird hide at Presthope over the last few weeks and found the feeders empty, this was simply due to a lack of time as we were busy making hay whilst the sun shone. Normal service has resumed and the birds are using the feeders again to top themselves up whilst also making the most of the natural food currently on offer.
Birds seen on Saturday 3rd August over a 30 minute period include,
Marsh Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Blue Tit, Sparrowhawk, Chaffinch (eaten by Sparrowhawk), Greenfinch, Nuthatch, Blackbird. A Peregrine Falcon also flew overhead.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Nordic Walking


On Saturday 17th of August at 10am we are giving people the chance to try Nordic Walking on Wenlock Edge. This has been a very popular event in the past, with people of all abilities and levels of fitness enjoying trying something new in a beautiful location. The event costs just £7 per person, this includes pole hire and 2 instructors on hand to teach the basics of Nordic Walking. It will last for about 2.5 hours and includes a walk through the woods, taking in some wonderful views.
Booking is essential as places are limited, to book your place either e-mail chris.dunkerley@nationaltrust.org.uk or call 07948 072075.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Provisional Half Marathon results

There are a few incorrect results at the bottom of the page, i will try to correct these asap  M/F Age Time in Overall Placing
1 Snodgrass Martin M 34 1:37:13
2 Ruston Stuart M 46 1:49:33
3 Baker Paul M 36 1:50:31
4 Evans Daniel M 42 1:54:29
5 Postins Gary M 43 2:01:53
6 Harrison Keith M 52 2:02:44
7 Harvey Jessica F 30 2:04:26
8 Broadhurst Paul M 45 2:04:29
9 Snell John M 50 2:05:28
10 Postins Kevin M 53 2:07:40
11 Hadley Paul M 49 2:08:33
12 Humphreys Dave M 63 2:09:04
13 Durbin Robin M 36 2:11:35
14 Lawrence Rebecca F 38 2:13:03
15 Urmston Kevin Stuart M 37 2:13:24
16 Rickus Michael M 53 2:13:42
17 Edwards Duncan M 41 2:16:08
18 Sanders Gerald M 55 2:18:37
19 Perry Philip M 36 2:20:52
20 Delaney Catherine F 44 2:21:06
21 Goodwin Nicola F 39 2:21:33
21 Mansfield Kylie F 33 2:21:33
23 Price Ian M 50 2:22:37
24 Wareham Emma F 30 2:23:39
25 Prince Charlotte F 25 2:25:25
26 Hickman David John M 51 2:26:18
27 Latchford Peter M 49 2:30:31
28 Hartshorne Alison F 35 2:30:44
29 Probert Neil M 46 2:31:07
30 Furio Anita F 52 2:31:10
31 McGrath William M 54 2:31:50
32 Warner Darren M 45 2:32:03
33 Bailey Richard M 69 2:32:20
34 Thornton Richard M 44 2:32:44
35 Worth Ben M 34 2:33:08
36 Morris Alan M 71 2:34:57
37 Thornton Mary F 46 2:37:23
38 Fennell David M 49 2:40:07
39 Vernon Ruth F 41 2:40:32
40 Teckoe Naomi F 26 2:42:41
41 Warner Nicola F 46 2:42:42
42 Ashmore Ross M 36 2:42:44
43 Bennett Juliet F 41 2:44:17
44 Morgan Carole Ann F 67 2:44:33
45 Heyes Darren M 38 2:44:41
46 Lewis Simon M 42 2:44:41
47 Latchford Cate F 50 2:44:49
48 Jukes William M 29 2:45:28
49 Hammond Anthony M 56 2:46:14
50 Groves David M 49 2:47:50
51 Hough Rosemary F 36 2:48:52
52 Harris Denice F 46 2:49:51
53 Holland Anita F 47 2:49:51
54 Worth Barry James M 36 2:50:37
55 Rooney Steve M 54 2:52:42
56 Newman Carina F 50 2:52:59
57 Tatton Julie F 51 2:53:29
58 Phillips Lee M 36 2:55:57
58 Cookson Ross M 42 2:55:57
60 Deacon Caroline F 34 3:04:03
61 Wright Emma F 36 3:04:15
62 Gilmore Christopher Neil M 38 3:04:55
63 Hodgkins Richard M 46 3:07:34
64 Greenhalgh Teresa F 43 3:10:45
65 Worsey Andy M 41 3:18:55
66 Ottey Susan F 50 3:29:10
67 Press David Alan M 61 3:29:12
68 Ottey Martin M 67 3:38:54
68 Hayes Eve F 37 3:38:54
71

Marathon results


    1      Moseley                          Luke                   M             35 
 
    03:41:57
  
2 Sharam Robert M 39 03:45:53
3 Swingler Val F 46 03:53:38
4 Bowen Michelle F 34 04:08:31
5 Sadler Angie F 53 04:08:34 5
6 Taylor Andy M 41 04:17:55
7 MacVicker Simon David M 48 04:18:52
8 Stock Hilary F 45 04:28:09
9 Evans Kevin M 41 04:36:25
10 Morris Gabriel M 30 04:45:05
11 Jones Tim M 51 04:47:35
12 Rose Stuart M 61 04:48:25
13 Barrie David M 37 04:57:45
14 Brenchley Nicholas M 33 05:11:48
14 Watson Karen E F 36 05:11:48
15 Patel Deepash M 38 05:19:16
16 Clarke Joan F 57 05:19:29
16 Mills Jenny F 64 05:19:29
17 Marsh Peter M 44 05:35:52
18 Furio Dino M 51 05:45:09
19 Morsley John H C M 52 05:48:11
20 Escolme Michael M 42 05:55:03
20 Hayes Jason M 42 05:55:03
22 Kelly Gary M 59 05:58:37
23 Whitehurst Nick M 45 06:16:30
24 Miles Danielle F 47 06:16:30
25 Fenton Simon M 37 06:47:37
26 Howells Phillip M 66 06:53:15
27 Jukes Andy M 50 07:02:09
28 Moles Dave M 60 07:03:25

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Marathon and half Marathon review

Firstly, congratulations to all who took part and completed the Marathon or half Marathon on Sunday in what were very tough conditions.
As soon as i left the house at 5.30am to mark out the last part of the route i knew it was going to be a scorcher, by the time the Marathon runners started turning up in Craven Arms i was a little concerned about just how hot it was. There was plenty of water along the route but as a runner myself i know how easy it is to get dehydrated. As it turned out it seemed that everyone was sensible and took on plenty of fluids throughout the races which was a big relief.
We were thrilled to have John Disley an Olympic bronze madalist and joint founder of the London Marathon present to start both events.
I was really envious of everyone as they set off as this a route that i absolutely love running and with the underfoot conditions being so good, to join them for a few hours of running would have been bliss.
Whilst the Marathon runners toiled up towards Flounders Folly and the first checkpoint i headed off to Wilderhope Manor to set off the half Marathon.
Val Swingler on her way to setting the womens course record, photo by Alistair Tye

On arrival there were plenty of runners sheltering from the sun whilst doing some last minute stretching. There was no shelter for them for the first few miles once John Disley had sounded the claxon, heading around the stunning Wilderhope Manor before going out across farmland and their first climb of the race.
Half Marathon start, photo by Sabine Hutchinson

From here i headed towards Much Wenlock, stopping at 4 checkpoints along the way to help set up and position marshals on the entry to the town. I arrived at the finish area and got some flags set up just in time for the first finisher of the half Marathon, Martin Snodgrass. Martin ran a brilliant race and set a new course record with a time of 1 hour, 37 minutes and 13 seconds.
Martin Snodgrass approaches the finish line, photo by Alistair Tye

In the womens race Jessica Harvey was the first over the finish line, improving her own time from last year by an amazing 23 minutes, finishing in 2 hours 4 minutes and 26 seconds.
I now had a little time to chat to some of the early finishers which was great, it gives me a real buzz to hear about how others have enjoyed the route and which bits they found tough.
Thoughts around the finish now turned to the first Marathon competitors finishing as we thought they would be getting close. We didn't have too long to wait until Luke Moseley raced onto the Church green, finishing in a time of 3 hours 41 minutes and 57 seconds. Not long after this Val Swingler crossed the line in third place overall and first woman, she smashed the previous womens record by 8 minutes with a time of 3 hours 53 minutes and 38 seconds!

Unfortunately i missed half of the presentations as i was delivering cake to some of the marshals. All that was left was to nervously wait for the last marathon runners who had been out in the hot conditions for a long time. When they arrived they all seemed fine and were suffering no ill effects of the temperatures which was a great end to the day. A quick dash about to throw everything on the trailer and then it was home for food and a long overdue drink.

A special well done to Jenny Mills who i believe was the only Marathon competitor who took on the extra climb to the top of the Folly!
Full results will be avaiable in the next couple of days.

I'd like to thank on behalf of the National Trust all the landowners who allow us to use their land without their support the event could not happen as half of the route is not owned by the National Trust. Special thanks to Chris Hill of The Edge Adventures and the Wardens at Sytche Lane camping and caravan site for clearing a footpath that was quite overgrown in the days before the race. Paul Cashmore from Wilderhope Manor again went out on his tractor to mow some of the footpaths around Wilderhope Manor for which i am extremely grateful. Wenlock Water very kindly provided water for all participants which i am sure was gratefully recieved by everyone at the finish.

Finally thankyou to all the National Trust staff, Wenlock Olympian Society and mainly the volunteers who kindly offered to give their time up, without whom we would not be able to put the event on.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Marathon Photos

The first photos are appearing on Alistair Tye's site http://www.fellrunningpictures.co.uk/overtheedge2013.html

Pictures of the Marathoners just after checkpoint 1 at flounders folly currently available.

I will write up a report and add results as soon as they are available

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Runners update

If you are running in either the Marathon or Half Marathon on Sunday please be aware that the weather forecast is for bright sunshine and temperatures of 24 degrees! There are water stations but please also bring some liquid with you to carry, either water or electrolyte replacements or both. Don't worry about over hydrating before the event as there are plenty of trees en-route!
Although much of the route is in the shade there are sections that are completely open to the elements so please take the necessary precautions against the sun, we want you to have a great day and get to the finish in a reasonable condition so please be sensible.

Apologies to anyone who signed up expecting mud again, its all gone. Hopefully the better ground conditions will not make it too easy for you.

Looking forward to seeing you on Sunday but wish i was running amongst you!

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Marathon and Half Marathon

Strimming of the routes is well under way, we covered about 8 miles on Monday and will be doing 5 more tomorrow.
The courses are currently in excellent condition and should allow for  much better running than last year in the mud. This could of course all change but looking at the weather for the next week it looks unlikely to deteriorate.

There are still places available should you wish to enter, e-mail overtheedge@nationaltrust.org.uk or call 01694725001. Alternatively you can print the form from the Wenlock Olympian Society's webpage and send it with a cheque asap to the address on the form.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Owlets

There is some better news on the breeding bird front as there is a lovely pair of owlets around the Presthope area. These Tawny Owl chicks have been on the wing for a few weeks now and they are very vocal, often being scolded by their mother if someone (usually me) walks nearby. They are still being fed as they are too young to start catching their own food.
This morning they have been enjoying some sunshine, this offered me the chance to get a couple of photos of them whilst they kept their eyes well and truly on me!
 
 

At this point the mother flew past with a vole or mouse in its mouth, it didn't stop as she saw me so i moved to a more hidden area. I then got settled but missed the passing of the meal as i tried to focus the camera. all i got was this!
The owlet on the left has the meal!
 



There are lots of Tawny owls throughout the woods on Wenlock Edge so hopefully this is a scene that is being played out all over the wood. 
 

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Breeding Birds


Unfortunately many of our bird boxes around the wood are un-occupied. This could be for a number of reasons. Last years breeding season was bad due to cold, wet weather so bird numbers are probably down due to this. We have just had a long cold winter which will have led to high mortality. Snow also fell in this area just as a lot of migratory birds were arriving from Africa, this may have forced them to move on to warmer areas.
I am hoping that the boxes that are being used will be very productive to make up for the low occupancy rates.
On a brighter note this lovely male Bullfinch was seen around Presthope.
 
He was later seen with with a female and i believe they have a nest nearby.
 

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Badgers

Here is some more footage from the camera that i have set up in the wood, different location, different main characters.

video

video

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Lost property

Have you lost a pair of trainers on Wenlock Edge either today or yesterday? A pair were found in one of the car parks this evening, e-mail chris.dunkerley@nationaltrust.org.uk with details and i will get them back to you.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Spycam

I have been trying out a camera trap on the Edge recently as i want to see some of the wildlife acting naturally rather than running off at the sight of me! I also thought it would be good to share with readers of this blog. So far i have caught quite a bit of good footage but it has been rather limited in its species diversity.
video
video
When i say acting naturally what i actually mean is eating peanuts that i have dropped strategically near the camera. These are Fallow deer, they are on the increase nationwide and this is no different here on Wenlock Edge. I have now moved the camera in the hope of capturing some different species.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Nordic Walking

There are still a few places available on our Introduction to Nordic Walking session on Saturday 4th May, its a great chance to try out a new activity and see the beautiful woods, full of Spring flowers. It only costs £7 per person for 2 hours instruction, this includes pole hire.
To book or for more info e-mail chris.dunkerley@nationaltrust.org.uk or call 07948072075

Friday, 26 April 2013

Bird news

Its a beautiful day here on Wenlock Edge today, save for the odd shower which fortunately move through quite quickly, being replaced by blue skies, warm sunshine and bird song.
There was plenty of action on the feeders at the bird hide this morning and the breeding season is now under way. I managed to get a few photos too, which was a bonus.
Blue Tit
Greenfinch
Goldfinch (left), Greenfinch (centre), Great Tit (right)
Great Spotted Woodpecker
 
Migrant species now being heard here include, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Blackcap and i have just been told that Whitethroat have arrived in Shropshire so they should now be on site too. Chiffchaff can be heard everywhere, but to hear Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Whitethroat you need to look in scrubby areas such as the National Trust car park near Much Wenlock.