Monthly Archives: April 2013

First volunteer evening 24th April

Report on volunteer evening 24th April 2013

8 volunteers attended the first evening session of the year.

  1. The grass paths and stump circle were mown.
  2. Broom and gorse bushes were pruned and staked where feasible and dead ones removed to Fraser’s bonfire site. An inconclusive conversation about whether to plant more.
  3. Apple prunings with canker infestation were removed to the bonfire site.
  4. Accumulated brash piles in the Paddock were moved to the bonfire site.
  5. The bramble enveloping the laid hedge near the Fauna Stones was cut back.
  6. Some of the redundant plastic protectors were removed from maturing saplings. Some of these were stored for future use.
  7. Others were used to protect new saplings in the Pads hedge.
  8. The nearly completed shed was inspected and some queries raised to take to the architect / builder.

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Greetings Orchardeers,

The first of this year’s Summer Evening volunteer sessions will take place this Wednesday, April 24th at 6.30pm.
(Newcomers may or may not already be aware that during the ‘summer’ months we gather on the last Wednesday evening of the month. This in addition to the second Saturday morning  of each month, which we work all year round.)

The To Do list for Wednesday reads as follows…

1.      Mow the grass.
2.      Strim / cut back tufts of grass in the Orchard.
3.      Tidy and clear the southern end of the Orchard.
4.      Stake the broom shrubs where required at the southern end. Pause to reflect on the brooms which have died in the vicinity and contemplate whether to replace them.
5.      Clear the bramble enveloping the laid hedge by the FAUNA stones.
6.      Inspect the small tree alongside the Fauna / School footpath which has blown over. Clear if dead, stake if alive.
7.      Remove some of the plastic sapling protectors at the northern end of the Pads / Fauna footpath which have now done their work.
8.      There is a gap in the Pads / Orchard hedge toward the southern end which has new saplings in. Use plastic protectors in shed and those removed in step 7 (keep up, keep up, see above) to protect the saplings and prevent pedestrians treading on them. Add a branch or two from nearby brash to reinforce.
9.      Move piles of brash stored in the Paddock to Fraser’s bonfire site.
10.    If we have possession of the new shed – which admittedly seems unlikely by Wednesday – return tools there and relocate other tools from Mick’s shed.

And that’s all. Please come along if you possibly can.

Best wishes,

Jonathan.

Roe Deer

Roe Deer – Hay Meadow just past School Pond

Call from my partner 10.30am Friday morning as she was walking along the Fauna Path towards Cromwell Road.  She had a close encounter with a Roe Deer (within 6 feet).

Deer was spotted in the Hay Meadow (just after the School Pond turning), close to the path fence.

April Nature Notes

After the unusually cold weather in March, we are still waiting for its wildlife to appear! A solitary Brimstone butterfly was spotted in the sunshine last Saturday morning. The few days of relatively warmer weather have encouraged the appearance of some tentative leaf growth. So optimistically, here are a few things that may be seen in the coming weeks:

Spring Flowers and Blossom
The delicate white flowered wood anemone and the first blossom of the year, the buckthorn and blackthorn should be making an appearance this month. The celendines are now beginning to appear.

Summer Visitors
As you will see from our blog entries the summer migrants are beginning to arrive. For many people the first swallows are signs of summer to come. As you enjoy their aerobatics as they swoop across the meadows, it is sad to think that only 1 in 4 of their chicks will make the journey to S Africa and back again for next year.

Already here too is one of the first arrivals, the little chiff chaff having made its long journey from West Africa. It is often to be seen and heard in a morning or evening in the tree tops at the north end of the Orchard. And yes, its very recognisable call is a repeated ‘chiff chaff’! For me, the melodic down the scale song of the willow warbler heralds the arrival of spring as it sits at the top of one of the tall trees.

Amphibians
Frogs, toads and newts are coming out from their winter inactivity and searching for suitable ponds in which to lay their eggs. Young frogs and toads are called tadpoles. Of course you know that but did you know that baby newts are called newtlets!

Hare again

Maybe it wasn’t wishful thinking after all! Out in the Fauna fields with Oliver and Richard from the RSPB this morning, checking on the leaking pipe in Anna’s Pool and doing some monitoring of the wet areas. In the top corner of Upper Sowerholme, by the boundary with Flora, was a brown hare. OK, probably not the same one I saw on the Glasson cycle path on Tuesday.  Most encouraging to have another – albeit brief – sighting so quickly.

Richard was pleased to see a snipe fly up. He thought that, as it was still around, it could well be breeding in Upper Sowerholme. (This is difficult to verify. Apparently an indicator of breeding snipe is to hear them drumming around dawn or dusk.) Eagle-eyed Richard also spotted a male wheatear on the edge of the Big Meadow marsh by Loxams’ Pond. He noticed that one of the crows in Fauna has white wings. Has anyone else spotted this unusual coloured bird?

Snipe in Upper Sowerholme and other sightings

An inspection visit to Upper Sowerholme today revealed a snipe – which is intriguing, because although there are plenty in Big Meadow we don’t often see them elsewhere – plus a hare. One male wheatear was again clearly visible in Big Meadow. Richard, our RSPB expert, says that it had probably stopped off on passage to feed up before heading for the uplands to breed. He also said that there were so many snipe in Big Meadow during the winter that it’s entirely possible that some may be nesting in the rushes in the middle, even though they too generally breed in the uplands. It’s virtually impossible to be sure, but a good sign might be hearing them ‘drumming’, i.e. defending their territory, at dawn or dusk. If anyone’s around then and does hear them, please do report it here.

Also spotted a pair of buzzards taking off from Pony Wood, where a woodpecker was drumming; and a ‘leucistic’ crow (with unusual white wings) towards Cromwell Road.