Volunteer session 29th May + the ‘ragwort season’

Here is Jonathan’s message about the evening volunteer session

Greetings Orchardeers,

There’ll be a volunteer session in Fairfield Orchard this Wednesday, May 29th, starting at 6.30pm (or whenever you can show up).
We’ll meet at the STORAGE BUILDING rather than the stumps circle so everyone can help getting the tools organised.


1. Mow the grass (and if we have time run the mower along parts of the Fauna path edge to discourage overhanging grass growth).
2. Strim and slash a selected area of nettles/ cow parsley around the fruit trees.
3. Stone pick the stretch of land alongside the storage building and place stones in the sump and alongside the building base.
4. Discuss with volunteers present what we might do with this land when the boundary issue has been fixed.
5. Remove the plastic protectors around the saplings in the ‘Loxam hedge’ near the Cromwell Road entrance. Store them in bags for future use.
6. IF we have heard from Richard Storton about the algal growth in ponds then possibly remove from Alder Pond.
7. IF the weather is appropriate AND we have suitably qualified personnel (see below), spot weed the ragwort down the Pads footpath.

From The Ragwort Desk:
It is the time of year when we have to turn again to ragwort control. Ian presented a paper to the last FOG meeting on this so the details are available in the FOG minutes. But basically we must spray the rapidly appearing plants in the next month or so. Ian will be organising ragwort working parties to systematically work through the fields. He will try to spread these across the working week and weekends. To qualify volunteers must meet two conditions:
a) Be born before 1st January 1965. This is serious – it is a legal requirement for the non-domestic application of herbicide without a specified qualification (from memory this is a three day course costing several hundreds of pounds if any of you ‘youngsters’ want to qualify!).
b) Work under Ian’s direction. He will mix the herbicide and give instruction on its use. To be effective our work must be systematic and it is vital that volunteers follow a set plan.
If you wish to join the working parties please contact Ian at
or 07811970595
Ian will circulate a list of potential working days to those who join the list. Remember that to apply the herbicide the weather must be still and dry.

From The “Volunteer Numbers” Desk:
Finally, Ian gives notice that a short questionnaire will soon be circulated to all the ‘Orchardeers’. The expansion of the Nature Reserve to include Flora implies more volunteer work and we need to increase the number of volunteers. The questionnaire will seek your views on how we might do this. Watch out for the message and please reply when it arrives!

And that’s all for now.
Please do come on Wednesday evening if you possibly can. Even if you can’t come along for the full duration, everyone’s efforts contribute to the cause, and it’d be wonderful to see a good turn out.

Best wishes,

Recent wildlife

A heron flying over Flora yesterday and a song thrush in Fauna a few days ago.

There is Dusky Crane’s-bill in the Orchard near the Towneley entrance.

Can anyone identify this plant – it’s near the junction of the Pads and Willow lane footpaths. I thought it might be Houndstooth but I am not very sure


Moorhens nesting and more hares

2 moorhens seen nesting on Alder Pond.

Two more hare sightings:

Monday 20th May, same spot in Flora as previous two sightings. Farmer removing sheep, hare bolted towards Fauna.

Tuesday 21st May, late evening, field adjoining Fauna.

All by Philip

Volunteer session 11th May 2013

Seven volunteers came to the session which was led by Ken as Ian was away. Many thanks to Ken for standing in.

Owing to the wet weather it was not possible to mow or strim the grass in the orchard.

Neither did we have the person power to spread daffodil bulbs. They are now enveloped by fast growing stinging nettles and this job will have to wait until next year.

The litter pick along the Long Pads path and the Flora copse was completed. A container was provided for the safe keeping of the discarded hypodermic needles. All the bags of rubbish were removed and arrangements were made to have it collected by the Council.

The algal growth on the Upper Sowerholme pond was removed.

The small dead tree on Fauna /School footpath was removed to the bonfire site.

The brash pile in the Paddock was moved to the bonfire site.

Graham’s stumps were moved from the Paddock to the shed area.

Further work was done clearing the Orchard path.

As the weather was wet our refreshments were taken in the new shed – yet another bonus besides the convenience of all our tools being together.

So, on a wet morning with limited numbers a great deal was achieved.


The cankered apple trees had been removed prior to the session, we assume by Keith.

Black plastic was wrapped round the elder tree stumps as a follow-up job.

Wild flowers

There is the beginnings of a nice show of flowers on the Long Pads footpath with Greater Stitchwort and Common Vetch. There are Lords and Ladies on the Pads footpath and Ivy Leaved Toadflax in the wall going up to the playground from Sunnyside Lane. I think there is Dusky Crane’s-bill in the nettles just to the north of the Towneley Close path but will appreciate confirmation.

Hare today…

There were 2 brown hares showing very well close to School Pond this morning. I noticed one nearby yesterday too; it’s really encouraging to see them hanging around.

As far as summer migrants go it’s been relatively quiet just lately from what I’ve seen on my visits. A common whitethroat was in the ‘new’ hedgerow a couple of days ago and of course chiffchaff, willow warbler and blackcaps are all in song in the Orchard. I haven’t yet heard any sedge warblers in the vicinity (one was singing by the canal yesterday and at least 3 are on territory at Freeman’s Pools) – has anyone seen or heard any around FAUNA?