15 Oct 2009

Return to The Ercall

"There's good news and there's bad news Paul", Les explained.

Friday, October 9, 2009 saw The Wrekin Forest Volunteers meet opposite the Buckatree Hotel to scrub-clear part of one of the quarry areas. Four of us volunteered to be the advance party in order to set up the fire for scrub burning along with preparing the area for the now famously unique, edible, soft-centred black rock often found in the area, otherwise known as bonfire spuds!

"What's the good news then Les?" I asked slightly bewildered.

"Well..." Les began, sporting that huge grin that I've come to know precedes something momentous, "You've got a great fire burning"


"But, it's in the wrong quarry!"

How did we do that? As I write this I can hear the other members of the advance party; Liz, Nigel and Graham saying in unison; "Hang on - what's with the 'WE'? You led us there!"

OK. OK. I accept full responsibility. I don't know how it happened, there was no doubt in my mind that it was the site of last year's bonfire in Quarry 3. However, the scrub clearance was taking place in Quarry 2. Did it matter? Well... as Pete explained this area was also in the programme for scrub-clearance but not for today. We just switched things around.

Well... the weather was great. The spuds were even better!

Whilst I get set for an attempt at pole-vaulting over the flames and Alistair prepares for the annual WuFuV Fire-Dance Ritual designed to ensure that the gods bless us with a winter of safe and successful fires without destroying too much woodland...

...the remainder of the team do something worthwhile and cut down the scrub!

Well... all that is, except Cameron who tries to follow Alistair with the dance-ritual but what's this? Oh no! He's facing away from the fire! That'll never work!

Or maybe, just maybe Les has launched a drop-kick on the poor unsuspecting lad. You mean you haven't heard about The Coalbrookdale Cage-Fighting Team? You have been warned. I'll say no more!
We were then invited to look at Penny's Liver-Wort.

Now, I have to say, as I walked over to where a small party was now gathering around Penny, I was expecting Penny's Liver Wort to be perhaps a funny little freckle on the back of her hand and couldn't help wondering why that should attract such interest and attention. But then.. for the third time that day - I had it wrong! And before you ask - no - I'm not taking a small libation as I write. I think you all know my drinking motto which I stick to religiously; 'I never drink before 6pm unless I have one during the day!' Don't knock it - it's always worked for me!

Anyway, it was this little beauty:-

Isn't that just fab! But doesn't it look like someone's fingers have just pushed through a well-worn glove? Are you sure there's no body buried underneath it?!

It turns out to be Peltigera hymenina - credits go to Penny, Les and Wild About Britain for due diligence in ID'ing. Wild About Britain by the way, is a really great website with accompanying forum for posting pics and obtaining ID's.

And then it was time for spuds.

A productive day in terms of species we came across whilst working on the scrub. Liz disturbed a resting Sallow Moth - unless anyone wants to challenge this ID? It's very badly worn and it could actually be a Pink-barred Sallow. Anyone? Les? Nigel? Pete? Tony - are you there? For those who don't know Tony Jacques by the way, he's the County Moth Recorder for Shropshire, who follows this blog and accompanies us on some of our infamous moth nights. His vast knowledge of moths goes back some 30 years or more (gosh! That must make him at least 40 years old - who would have thought?) - oh and by the way he likes to keep out of the limelight and protect his anonymity so you won't find his name mentioned here at all. Oh!

Liz also found this larva, perhaps you can help on this one too Tony?

And I think it was Brian who found the Green-Shield Bug

All pics for this blog post come courtesy of Les as I forgot my camera that day - so that was four things I got wrong!

And then it was time to pack up and head home. Doesn't time fly when you're enjoying stuff?

See you all soon!

7 Oct 2009

Dothill Walk

Thanks again to Keith for this short but excellent report:-

Tuesday, 29th September 2009
Around two dozen gathered outside Dothill School for a walk, led by Pete, around the Dothill area. Peter briefed us about the threats from development hanging over the area and that it was a desire to protect the area as a green space and wildlife area. Councillor Brittain was with the group: she informed us about the plans for the Dothill Flats (colonised by noctule bats) and about the possibility of organising a Friends group.

We walked around Dothill Pool, stopping at various points as Peter explained the local wildlife issues. He was so interesting that a cygnet listened in for a while.

At one stage Peter was asked to stop to discuss the “mugger”. Several of us were bemused when the talk was not of providing protection for the folk of Dothill from the aforementioned miscreant but about a sports area and where it should be placed. Slowly the mists cleared and we realised that the topic under discussion was a MUGA (Multi Use Games Area). As with all such facilities, wherever the planners want to site it, someone will object and this one is no exception.

The walk continued and we had lively discussions about the waste water entering one of the other pools at Dothill, then we moved on to the “great crested newt” pool. Peter explained how the balance between wild edges to the pool and its need for light needed to be balanced. In addition there is a need for a 500 metre zone of rough vegetation around the pool for the newts to enjoy life.

Those friends of Flanders and Swann amongst us will be heartened to know that the “Bedstead Men” that they immortalised in song had struck and deposited a shopping trolley in the pool.

We meandered on, reaching the scene of the great frog massacre. This is an area of meadow next to Tee Lake managed for the benefit of wildflowers. Unfortunately the optimum time for cutting coincided with the migration of frogs and toads from the neighbouring pool. The frogs and toads lost. An example of the difficult balancing act we have to perform whist giving nature a helping hand! As if on cue a small toad hopped into view – so there were some survivors - phew.

The walk continued around Tee Lake then back to the starting point passing a rather splendid apple tree full of red ripe apples that provided a snack for many of the walkers.

Keith Fowler