26 Jan 2009

Allscott Settling Pools

Mystery Tour Day!

In other words we'd no idea where we were going (although a couple of volunteers had taken an educated guess based on recent articles in the local press) so it was that we all squeezed into the bus with Penny bringing in the spillover in her own car.

After a trip down many country lanes, circling the Wrekin twice, over the Long Mynd, through Llangollen, marvelling at Aberdovey breakers we eventually arrived at

And what a fascinating area it is too. A vast wetland that's been an SSSI since the 60's.

We were briefed by John - a former employee of the company and what he doesn't know about the chemistry of sugar beet processing just isn't worth knowing. A veritable Bunsen burner in his own right!

We were also treated to a fascinating tale of hard-work and abject dedication from the very enthusiastic Julian Langford, a sprightly 71 year-old who in 2009 will be spending his 49th year carrying out his annual bird-ringing exercise as around 1000 birds arrive mainly from Africa to settle for the season in this haven for wildlife.
Julian explained that 123 different species have now been recorded since he started in June 1961 including at least 58 breeding species! No less than 106,231 have now been ringed by Julian and a small but dedicated team of helpers. That's a lot of fluff and feathers!

We were here today to help crack the crack-willow epidemic. Too much willow prevents the free-flight of the visiting migrants

This area was very overgrown and it took most of the day for a few of us to clear a path. Very boggy so very pleased I took Pete's advice and went fully-wellied instead of boots.

Pete and Julian discuss tactics whilst Olly listens in and Brian sends a text message!

Interesting shot of one of the Settling Pools

One of the many 'wet' areas. I very nearly fell in the quagmire taking this pic - much to everyone's amusement!

On this day the last of the towers were being demolished - a sight and site soon to be no more

A somewhat rickety footbridge that crosses the River Tern. There has to be a troll lurking under here somewhere! (Watch the movie below - I think I just caught a glimpse of one!)

No Slide Show this week folks!
Instead I've turned a few WuFuV's into movie stars!
Turn up your speakers and press the play button...

20 Jan 2009

Muxton Marshes

My first visit to Muxton Marshes and we were here for a 2-week stint to do some much needed hedge-laying, thinning and scrub-clearing. Bat-boxes were also to be placed as it's a popular place for these flying rodents particularly the Brown-Eared variety.

The hedge-laying is quite a major task in itself. This hedgerow is around 200 years old and is being laid in order to create a segregated area at strategic times in order to control the horse grazing. 3 Horses and 2 ponies have recently been introduced to the site to help maintain the natural habitat.

Even in the midst of winter it's a fascinating place and when I look around I can imagine in all other seasons the whole area teeming with wildlife especially in the natural swamp alongside the brook. But even in winter the area is a mecca for many species of birds. Within just a few minutes I spotted chaffinch, long-tailed tit, crow, buzzard, dunnock, robin and blackbird.

6 bat boxes were placed in 2 groups of 3 in areas where bats are known to fly and roost

The area (part of which is a SSSI) coupled with the nearby Granville Nature Reserve is one of past coal-mining complete with large spoil mound forming what looks like a natural hillside and now sports fine woodland. Spoil-dumping during it's industrial period hampered drainage creating a natural swamp which is now home to a wide variety of sedges, rushes and grasses with some quite uncommon species such as bristle club-rush (Isolepis setacea), marsh arrowgrass (Triglochin palustris), yellow rattle (Rhinanthus minor) and a species of marsh orchid thought to be Dactylorhiza incarnata.

A fine ancient willow - probably the oldest on site

Close to the foot of the slope grey willow dominates with smaller amounts of crack-willow and alder with bog mosses forming a carpet beneath the willows. Oak and silver birch are prevalent on the slope itself with woodland plants like wood anemone, yellow archangel and dog' s mercury thriving in this fine habitat.

And so to work...

I missed a great photo opportunity on our first visit to the site as we climbed the stile leading to the main site; Alistair slipped on the far step of the stile and performed an almost perfect backward somersault with 2 half-twists landing face up at my feet! Just caught us all by surprise so no pic I'm afraid. Anyway, I'm pleased to report although shaken and stirred he's fit and well and survives until the next trip!

And then along comes Matt...

'I'm not lying down! I fell!'

Matt is a very enthusiast helper and never afraid to ask questions. With us for just 4 weeks work experience he seems to be enjoying 'mucking in' with the rest of us!

And then there's Pete...
Sorry Pete!

No Howler this week but here's the previous winner...

Well done for spotting that I'd renamed the Fly Agaric as Fly Erratic

Penny never fails to supply a fabulous but inadvertent pose

I think that's Alistair with his foot on Pete's back!

I 'saw' it first! No you didn't - I did!

Homeward Bound and the end of another great WuFuV day!

Click the collage below to see more pics...

6 Jan 2009

It's the bloggers week off!

Hi everyone and a BIG Happy New year to all!

As I don't have a WuFuV event to post this week I'm taking the week off from blogging The Wrekin Forest Volunteers blog! So no Howler either I'm afraid.

The start of 2009 has us all gripped in sub-zero temperatures but it hasn't stopped Spiderman from getting out there and taking some fab pics! But first over to Graham with an ID poser for us:-

What's the plant and what's the fungi?

Pop your answers in Comments below


Nigel ventured out into crispy frostness to take these great pics. Thanks Nigel for reminding us all how cold it REALLY is out there!

Spiderman's Frosty Pics

Frozen Wrekin(from the Ercall)

Frozen Wrekin from the Little Wenlock road

Ed: Nigel's frozen nose!

Recognise this location from one of our Friday's ?

Again from the Ercall

Frosted Trees on the Ercall

Round our way even the rotting logs have ears !

Thanks Graham and Nigel for your contributions this week and I look forward to seeing everyone on Friday - is it Muxton?