28 Nov 2008

Telford Town Park Bat Boxes

Don't the days fly by? It seems like only yesterday when I was posting Granville pics on our Wrekin Forest Volunteers blog and here we are again.

Howler Competition
Last week, you may recall, we had the first blog competition with a little Howler dropped into the post. Olly won this by being the first to point out that there were no Red Squirrels in Telford Town Park. Oddly, Les thought it was a red robin! Best keep to identifying fungi and caterpillars Les!

What was really impressive about Olly's winning entry was that it was entered into the comments at 08:48 Monday morning which was about 4 minutes after I submitted the post! For this remarkable feat Olly was palpably overwhelmed to receive his prize, taken from my 'Little Box of Giveaways' (i.e. things I no longer need!), a biography of Pete Docherty, infamous ex-singer of 'The Libertines' and now singer with his own band 'Babyshambles' who do the occasional gig up and down the country. They'd like to do more but Pete keeps forgetting to turn up!

What was special about Olly's prize as I explained at the 'presentation' was that the book was signed. Unfortunately, not by Pete as he didn't turn up for the signing either! Which left me with no alternative other than to add my own autograph on the first page. Admittedly not so impressive but sometimes things just don't turn out as expected.

Anyway, well done Olly and it was obviously a good choice because Olly turns out to be a fan of Pete Docherty - so... that's two of us then!

There's another blinding but intentional mistake in this week's post with an equally salubrious and well-chosen prize. Don't forget this will not be a grammatical or typo error both of which may be abundant, but more an obvious geographical, historical or factual mistake. When you find it just post a comment on the bottom of the post just below the Telford Town Park collage. First to spot it and leave the comment wins - erm, well... it depends who wins!

Bat Boxes at Telford Town Park
Anyway , for this week's Wrekin Forest Volunteers task we were joined by Friends of Telford Town Park led by Chris an ardent supporter of TTP activities and active campaigner in maintaining this wonderfully diverse natural habitat.

We were all here today to build and erect nest & bat boxes.

We kicked off with a stroll around Withy Pool and a very interesting bat talk by Pete - WuFuV's leader - who never ceases to amaze at the depth of knowledge on all things countryside that he keeps under that wise old pate, although I have to say even Pete hadn't heard of The Mucklewick Walk that I did last Monday. But then mentioning it to many others it appears no-one else has! Such a pity! It's a great little 6-mile circular taking in the south ridge of Stiperstones and Mucklewick Hill itself offering great views from both but with little effort. One that I'll definitely do again. If anyone's interested in joining me - drop a comment below or catch me on the next WuFuV gig and we'll sort something out. And for anyone who doubts it exists:-

Back to the bat boxes and Telford Town Park
As Pete explained there are certain areas of the park that are frequented by quite large colonies of mainly Pipistrelle bats but other species such as the Dormouse bat are also to be found.

On our stroll around the pool we identified places to place our yet-to-be-built boxes.

Withy Pool is, of course, just a small part of this wonderful and largely natural wildlife area that is Telford Town Park consisting of around 152 hectares and I wouldn't mind betting that most who visit only see a tiny part of it - i.e. around the playground and Spout Farm House. There is, however, as we all know, much more to TTP than that! It reaches right down to the River Severn in the south, to Malinslee in the north, Stirchley east and Dawley west, much of which is a designated Local Nature Reserve.

It was in 1968 that Telford as a town rose like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes of primarily, the coal industry which was vibrant until the closure of the last mine - Grange pit, in 1894. New industries emerged for the manufacture of lime salts, charcoal, naphtha and latterly paving slabs and kerbstones until all of that eventually died too.

With the build of Telford Town the park area was thankfully encouraged to return to it's former state and reclaimed by nature. It is now once more abundant with wildlife and the home to butterflies such as Dingy Skipper and Green Hairstreak.

The grasslands in summer sport Spotted Orchids to name but one very welcome wildflower and the park also boasts the only area outside of the Stiperstones where cowberry can be found.

Bats, fish, birds, squirrels, dragon & damsel flies, reptiles, rabbits and foxes also abound in this rich and diverse space.

Fungi are also prevalent and on our Withy Pool circumnavigation we came across a line of little white-capped dwarfs which appeared to be heading off down the bank.

Thanks to Les for identifying them as Trooping Funnel Caps (Clitocybe geotropa). Pete: would you call these 'gregariously decurrent'?!

Anyway, on returning to the hut we set about building the bat boxes (I decided to leave my somewhat dubious carpentry skills to others as I seem to be quiet adept at building them upside down!).

The erection team then headed for the trees with ladder, strop and helmets

Caption Competition inspired by Nigel
Thanks again to Les and Nigel for their pic contributions. The one below is from Nigel and we thought it'd be great to turn it into a Caption Competition so please feel free to add to the comments below with 'who said what'. There seem to be many opportunities here with the ladder appearing to fall, a lifebelt, Olly running with a rope, and me... well - I'm not sure!

No prizes for this one just a bit of fun.
Make your suggestions in the comments below this post. Let's all have a go - open to everyone!

Please keep them clean - comments are not moderated - as soon you hit 'send' its on the blog!

Don't forget The Howler! Did you spot it? Leave your answer in the comments below to win this weeks' fabulous prize.

And don't miss next weeks' post when we Dingle with the Devil! If you haven't already done so please enter your email address above right to receive the email alerts every time a new post is done. Applies to anyone reading who would like to be updated with Wrekin Forest Volunteers escapades!

Click the collage to run the slides...

Catch you all next week!

20 Nov 2008

Granville Local Nature Reserve

Hello everyone and welcome to another blog post! If you're new to blogs I hope you're enjoying the experience and don't forget this is a 2-way thing so please email me with any pics of our Friday Forays that you might have or anything that's relevant to local wildlife. Pete sent you my email address last week.

Each blog post will be around 10 days after each Friday event to give you time to submit your pics etc and me time to place them into some assemblance of order, upload to the blog, create the collage and build the slideshow. Sounds impressive doesn't it!? But it really is just a simple case of clicking buttons and pressing a few keys. (I wish!).

Very important
Please enter your email address top right to get an automatic email notification as soon as a new post is published. I'd hate you to miss out on some scary photos - there may just be one of you! If you don't see the space to enter your email click on the top heading to see the main blog.

Howler Competition
Just for a bit of fun I've dropped in a Howler into this week's post. A blinding but intentional mistake that everyone should easily spot and I don't mean the grammatical or typo errors which I'm sure are abundant but an obvious geographical, historical or factual mistake. When you find it just tell us all by posting a comment on the bottom of the post just below the Granville collage. First to spot it and leave the comment wins - erm, wins...er...
oh I'll think of something!

Anyway, this week is the time for Granville LNR although it seems such a long while ago now doesn't it?

One of the great things my involvement with the WFV has brought is the fact that I'm continually discovering places I didn't even know existed even when they're virtually on my door-step! And so it was with Granville and what a wonderful natural and diverse habitat it is too!

Having lived in this fine county of Shropshire for just over 5 years my knowledge of practically all the places we visit and work on is somewhat sparse and so I have to do my due diligence and research as much as possible before posting, but for me that's a very enjoyable part of my blogging experience. I'm acutely aware that the rest of the crew are already fully conversant with most, if not all, the SWT sites and I learn so much just talking and listening to other members.

I try to remember every little snippet I hear but as the years rumble on my retention-ability becomes weaker I'm afraid! Thinking about it though, I recall my form teacher several decades ago writing something similar at the back of my report so maybe it's an inherent problem! My long-suffering partner Pam would I'm sure second that!

Anyway... it appears that digression is another problem I suffer from, so without further ado:-

Granville LNR, previously known as Granville Colliery Spoil Heaps and prior to that, of course, Granville Colliery, is a designated Local Nature Reserve owned by Telford & Wrekin Council and managed by SWT consisting of some 35 hectares, which in pounds sterling is around 86 acres, if you know what I mean!

Much loved and much-visited by local residents the restoration has proved to be a true success story as the wildlife has not only returned since the closure of Shropshire's last deep mine in 1979 it has taken a firm and welcome grip!

After centuries of industrial turmoil the area has returned to nature. And nature's loving it! What was once industrial turmoil this now grand mix of woodland and heath teams with birds, insects, flowers and grasses all year round and is gradually pushing out the last remaining vestiges of industry with just a few reminders such as old furnaces and an engine house.

This wonderful reserve is home to Dingy Skippers and Green Hairstreaks to name but 2 of those colourful little flapping things found here and as a lover of butterflies myself I can't wait till next spring and summer to get involved in the surveys that I'm sure will be taking place at Granville and although its hills are quite modest there are fabulous views over the surrounding countryside.

There are some great pics on the slideshow that I know you're going to enjoy (one or two of you may not of course!), which all bounce into life the minute you click the collage at the bottom. DON'T GO YET THOUGH! ooops sorry for shouting!

Don't miss next week's post:-

Bat Boxes at TTP and a Caption Competition inspired by Nigel

Unfortunately, I missed not one but two camera action-shot opportunities last week when Graham slipped down the bank inspecting the magnificent line of Trooping Funnel Caps and Liz stepped into a particularly deep and muddy puddle as she enthusiastically pointed to a nearby red squirrel!

One or two of you have already started to seek revenge by sending me pics of myself to upload. The advantage of being the blogger though is that I can choose which pics go up! Hehehe!

You might recall I left you last week with a tempter of what was to come in this weeks post:-

Discover Nigel's tip for working on a slope
's better than Alistair's back
Graham's game
What happened to
Lis's curtains!

See if you can spot all 4 of this weeks stars of the show!

Click the collage to run the slides...

Catch you all next week!

16 Nov 2008

Hello and welcome to all fellow Wrekin Forest Volunteers!

This blog was born following a prompt from Graham after a quick discussion in the bus on the way to Granville LNR and a very brief chat with our wise leader, organiser and instigator Pete Lambert on Nov 14th 2008. As a blogger of 3 or 4 somewhat diverse blogs already I thought it would be a good idea to set one up for 'The Volunteers' - so I volunteered!

Its purpose initially is to post a write-up with pics of each event that we - the Wrekin Forest Volunteers - become involved in which essentially is our Friday Forays mainly on Shropshire Wildlife Trusts various sites where we spend the day helping to maintain the areas and thereby encouraging their natural habitats.

We can spread the word about our activities by inviting our friends and families to follow this blog so they can all see the hard work we do, and of course, the fun and frivolity we always seem to have too!

Just email everyone with the blog link


and invite them to subscribe by email (see top right) or RSS feed. This will ensure they get notified of each new post as it happens. Don't forget to do this yourself so you don't miss out!

Since joining the group just a couple of months ago what has amazed me is the wealth of information and individual skills everyone pools. It seems each member has an area of wildlife that's special to them - Penny's lichens, Nigel's spiders to name but two, not forgetting, of course, Pete's abundant knowledge of bill hooks and decurrent fungi!

This blog is OUR blog. It's YOUR blog and hopefully it will develop into an online area for us all to share knowledge, ideas, pics, comments, poems etc. So... if you have any photos for example, particularly of Friday Forays, that you'd like included please pick out one or two of your best and email them to me as soon after each Friday as possible. As this is a public domain I won't publish my email address here - I've asked Pete to email you all with it.

Also if you have anything relevant to local wildlife, conservation, rejuvenation etc you'd like to write about supported by pics please let me have your articles and I'll post them to the blog. And please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of each post: suggestions, what's good, what's bad etc -anything really. Just comment! I'll know I'm not the only one reading this then!

Most posts will have a link at the bottom that automatically runs a slide-show containing more pics of that week's event usually with a bit of light-hearted fun stuff too! My apologies for this to all members on all future posts. If you'd rather not be shot (as in camera!) please let me know or borrow Lis's hat and wear it the wrong way round!

You might want to get your own back on me by the way!

And the first ever post is...


Lawley Green Space

A small but wonderful area of wildlife that is the inspiration of local resident and wildlife enthusiast Mark Eccleston along with several other enthusiasts in the vicinity.

Mark along with his dedicated team of helpers, with the kind assistance of the local council and Birse Civils who are working on adjoining and extensive road development has turned this area not just into a green space but a haven for wildlife and we were invited along on November 7 to see what his team has done in just a few short months and with a spend so far of just £300! Quite an achievement! We were also there to offer our manual help in a number of ways.

Rather than repeat what has already been posted on their own excellent blog I'll simply supply the link:- http://lawleygreenspacegroup.blogspot.com

I've also uploaded my own pics into a web album and slide-show and wish to apologise to Pete straightaway for the infamous bird-box shot (but it is funny!).

Next week: Granville LNR

Discover Nigel's tip for working on a slope, what's better than Alistair's back, Graham's game and what happened to Lis's curtains! Don't miss it!

Click collage to run Lawley Green Space slide show