Monday, 27 July 2015

Roadside tree work

Recently we have been doing a lot of road safety tree work, near Presthope and on Hughley bank. We have push back the vegetation resulting in a much clearer view when you pull out and less stress on the wall caused by roots. 

On Hughley bank our contractors had to climb, reduce and fell a number of trees at the roadside because of some devastating squirrel damage. This time of year they strip the bark to get to the sap; which ultimately kills the trees.

Sheep shearing

We rounded up our sheep recently and took them over to the Long Mynd to be sheared. Most breeds of sheep grow wool continuously, so it is important to shear them at least once per year. Shearing is usually done in the spring, so sheep don't get overheated in the summer. 

Our sheep before shearing
The sheep are quite relaxed while they are sheared
Our sheep look very smart now 

Volunteer training days

We have organised a number of volunteer training days for Shropshire Hills volunteers, including National Trust, Shropshire Wildlife Trust, Shropshire Council and Community Wildlife Group volunteers. These are to thank them for all their hard work, to introduce them to new interesting topics and also to improve their knowledge of local wildlife. 

Last week was the mammal tracks and signs training day led by Chairman of the Shropshire Mammal Group, Stuart Edmunds. We walked through the woods at Wenlock and looked for nests, nibbled nuts and poo! Then we checked a number of camera traps and got lots of brilliant footage of foxes, badgers and even a dormouse!  


Also this week we had a butterfly training day, held at the Long Mynd and led by the Strettons Area Community Wildlife Group. The weather wasn't great but we still saw a good variety of species. We wandered through the batch valley and saw ringlet, green-veined white, gatekeeper and many more. But the best sight of the day was lots of little skippers sitting on the thistles next to the stream.  

Little skipper butterfly

A helping hand at the Long Mynd

It is a busy time of year at the Long Mynd at the moment, so over the past few months we have been going over to help out with some bracken cutting. 

The tractor is fitted with a flail mower, powered from the PTO. Twin wheels are also fitted to stabilise the tractor for safety and they allow us to cut bracken on the steeper slopes. The amount of bracken cut was measured using a GPS device and then the data was transferred onto a computer for the records. We cut about 40 hectares every year.

A beautiful view from Minton. 
  The rangers also spray the bracken with a chemical to try to slow the spread of it across the hill. They can only do this when the weather conditions are right; with a low wind speed and when the forecast for the week is dry. 

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Focus On: Presthope Walk

Distance: 300m

Duration: 5-10mins

Start Point: Presthope NT Car Park

Difficulty: Very Easy

Description: A short, hard-surfaced loop perfect for pushchairs, wheelchairs and anyone just wanting to stretch their legs. Enjoy the atmospheric woodlands and take in the panoramic view looking towards Caer Caradoc, the Lawley and the Long Mynd.

A map of the walk is available on the information board in the Presthope Car Park.

Road-side work

On Friday we were on the B4371 road near Presthope pushing back vegetation. We trimmed branches and felled trees before breaking them down and putting them through a chipper. Now there is a much clearer view when you pull out of hughley bank and less stress on the wall caused by roots.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Grassland management

This week Area Ranger, Alistair strimmed the grass verge outside the National Trust car park in Much Wenlock. As you can see from the photograph below, the grass was getting very long and restricting motorists view. Another benefit of cutting the grass is that it slows down the growth of very vigorous grasses which gives other plants a chance to come through. 
The grass will be left to dry before we rake it up and take it away, this will reduce the nutrients in the soil which will benefit less vigorous plants. 
Alistair left a small area on the verge as it contains plants such as yellow rattle and pyramidal orchids which we want to encourage. With biannual cutting this verge has the potential to become very bio-diverse because it is on limestone soil, the verge to the left is doing brilliantly and is what we are aiming for ultimately. 


Pyramidal orchid

Spotted flycatcher chicks

We took this video of four spotted flycatcher chicks nesting in our vehicle shed on Tuesday. In the video they have hunkered down but once we moved away they perked up and made lots of noise as both parents came in to feed them in turn. All four looked happy and healthy and we watched as they stretched and flexed their wings. We weren't lucky enough to see them go but we know that they fledged on Wednesday. 

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Wenlock Edge Meadows

The pyramidal orchids in Ippikins meadow are looking fantastic right now, ranging from pale to hot pink and if you are lucky you might spot a bee orchid among them. Ippikins is also chock full of birds foot trefoil (also known as bacon and eggs) and yellow rattle, which are both great for invertebrates. Another good place to see pyramidal orchids is the Much Wenlock car park and if you want to see common spotted orchids you can visit Wilderhope or walk around the Harley bank and Smokey hole area of the edge. 

Pyramidal orchids  in Much Wenlock car park
Pyramidal orchid in Ippikins meadow

Bee orchid in Ippikins
Common spotted orchid near Smokey hole
Birds foot trefoil (bacon and eggs)

Improving our paths

We and Shropshire and Staffordshire National Trust volunteers spent this Sunday resurfacing some of our paths near Presthope car park. This involved shovelling crushed rock into barrows and then pushing them up and down the paths to spread the rock where it’s needed.  

Spreading the stone across the path
 This job is tough in hot summer weather conditions but it can’t be done when the paths are muddy. However we did have two motorised barrows (they drive like a tank) for the longer distance work which helped a lot and these supplemented the hand barrows. We moved about 15 tons of rock and covered about 150m of path.Thank you again for all your hard work SSNTV! 

Having a well deserved rest

The finished path