Thursday, 29 October 2015

Halloween at Wenlock Edge

Over the past month we have been getting ready for our two Halloween events at Wenlock Edge this Saturday. The first event called 'Halloween at Wenlock Edge' begins at 3pm finishes at 6pm, starting from Presthope car park and involves prizes for the scariest dressed, making spooky bats and walking around the woods listening to ghostly legends as we go. 

Our next event called 'All Hallows Eve Walk' starts at 7pm and runs until 9pm (the spookiest time to be wandering through the woods) meeting at the National Trust car park in Much Wenlock. We will be exploring Smokey hole where many myths and gory tales have been born and will be hearing about the legends of Wenlock Edge from witches and ghouls. 

We are really looking forward to it! Hope to see you there!

A hint of what's to come - preparing for the events (I don't want to give too much away!) 

Nibbled nut project

A dormouse nut project has been set up by the National Trust in partnership with Wenlock Edge Community Wildlife Group which aims to repeat a survey undertaken in 2001. The survey began this month and will run until the end of December, continuing again in autumn 2016

The aim of the survey is to see if dormouse feeding signs can be found in every area of suitable habitat on Wenlock Edge. Volunteers search in the leaf litter for Hazel nuts nibbled by dormice, which will tell us if dormice are present in all areas where there is fruiting Hazel and will allow us to discover any change from the previous survey. If the project finds areas with no evidence of dormice, this will highlight places for us to do more intensive searches and to focus future conservation. It is a huge project which will take place over a number of years and the more volunteers the merrier. Training will be provided: surveys are 10am - 2pm but you can leave early if necessary.

The dates for surveys this year are;
Wed 11th Nov
Wed 25th Nov
Wed 9th Dec
Wed 30th Dec 

If you are interested in helping or have any questions please email or call me on; or 07972 115725

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Last weekend: Green Edge event and SSNTV day

Last Saturday we were invited to the Green Edge event at Much Wenlock Primary School, where we had a brilliant time informing visitors about how important it is to look after our local wildlife, in particular birds, and especially at this time of year when the cold weather is moving in.

We had a display of information leaflets and various wildlife exhibits to look at and touch, for example fallow deer skulls, fungi, dormouse nibbled nuts, a dormouse nest and much more! But the most enjoyable part was making lots of messy pine cone bird feeders for people to take home!

We had an interactive table where we were making the bird seed feeders, being aware to be green by using materials that were natural and could be re-used. The feeders were made by attaching string to the top of the pine cones as a hanger and then creating a fatty seed ball by covering the pine cone in lard and rolling it around in bird seed. This table was very popular and seemed to go down well with the kids! It was also a great way for Wenlock Edge to connect and engage with the community and children and inform them of why Wenlock Edge is so special.

Sticky hands!
The girls showing off their finished bird seed feeders!

Observing the fallow deer skull

Last Sunday, we were working with the Shropshire and Staffordshire National Trust Volunteers (SSNTV) who came over to Wenlock Edge to help out with a large amount of much needed coppicing. Coppicing is the ancient craft of cutting trees and shrubs to ground level and although this might at first appear destructive, it has important environmental benefits by extending the life of the tree and allowing light to reach the woodland floor. This encourages a rich diversity of flora and  fauna, and at Wenlock Edge this is particularly important in creating a beneficial environment  and food source for its dormouse population. The strong re-growth from the coppice stools also provides a renewable source of timber for many uses, including hedge-laying.

A big thank you goes to all the volunteers for their help on the day.

Everyone getting stuck in

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Our Adorable Hazel Dormice

It has been a great year for dormice on Wenlock Edge, partly due to the abundance of food such as blackberries and hazel nuts. Dormice are a protected species and are very vulnerable to change in climate and habitat loss in the UK. 

There are a number of nest boxes along Wenlock Edge that provide artificial nesting options for our dormice, especially when tall dense brambles and holes in old trees are in short supply. Stuart from the Shropshire Mammal Group, who is licensed to disturb and handle dormice, checks our boxes and at the last check he found 4 juvenile dormice and lots of nests which is brilliant news! Generally when boxes are checked at other sites, the dormice are all asleep, however they are always wide awake at Wenlock! Here is a picture of one who popped out of his nest to say hello! 

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Volunteer Days

Work on Roman Bank with new volunteers Dick and Julian involved clearing blackthorn to increase light into the area which is particularly good for early purple orchids. We were also felling ash trees with canker and pollarding hawthorn and blackthorn to improve the health and biodiversity value of the existing woodland.

Dick and Julian clearing blackthorn
We also had a day with volunteers John, John and Julian, clearing an extremely overgrown bridleway, with large amounts of bramble and overhanging trees, to improve access for all our visitors! We had bonfires on both occasions which the volunteers seem to enjoy and are now professionals at starting a fire!

Clearing the bridleway
One of our many bonfires!

Last week, after digging out the post hole the previous week with a little help from a compressor; the volunteers fitted the new fence post into place, refilled the hole and attached the new gate (you may see it if you are passing along Stretton road). It looks very smart.

John and Julian refilling the post hole and compacting the fence post into place
The finished result!

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Full Time Volunteer

Hi, I’m Katy, the new placement student at Wenlock Edge. I am from North Yorkshire, which has the beautiful countryside of the Dales and the Moors, but am now enjoying life in Shropshire (apparently God’s own country too!) I am currently in my 3rd year at Harper Adams University studying Countryside Management, and before starting university I spent a year out Woofing (working on organic farms) across the country. I enjoy learning about landscape development and history. My interests include playing tennis and hockey, walking, and I also enjoy travelling.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Make hay while the sun shines!

The sun is shining so we are making hay! The grass has been cut in Ippikin's meadow so now we are turning it and hoping that the weather stays nice enough for it to dry. Removing the grass will reduce the nutrient level in the limestone soil which will encourage more rare plants, like orchids.

Cutting the grass with a tractor mounted mower

Using the haybob to turn the grass to help it dry

Archaeology training day

This month we had an archaeology volunteer training day at Wenlock Edge. It went really well with volunteers learning what to look for and how to survey and record archaeological features, such as lime kilns, platforms and boundary banks among others. 

The session was led by expert Dr Ian Dormor who also talked about the history of the landscape, the limestone industry and how this relates to the woodland management of Wenlock Edge.