27 May 2009

Madeley Court & Central Hall

Notes from the blogger
As I unfortunately missed the last 2 WuFuV days Keith has kindly stepped in to do a blog post - thanks Keith - much appreciated. If anyone at any time would like to do the same just send me a file with pics - MS Word is fine, and I'll edit, format and upload to the blog.

Before I hand you over to Keith, I had an interesting moth-trap day last Friday with 2 Scalloped Hazels, Common Swift, Brimstone moth and a Spectacle - quite a dull looking moth but viewing it head-on it looks for all the world as if it's wearing a pair of glasses - hence the name Spectacle.

A fabulous Cockchafer also popped into the trap to say hello

Should see you all next Friday - getting withdrawal symptoms!

And so over to Keith for this weeks post...

Madeley Court Pit Mounds
Another Friday, another pit mound. A grey, damp and unpromising day saw the volunteers visit the nature area that surrounds Madeley Court Hotel. This consisted of a pit mound, woodland and a couple of pools.

In the morning with Pete’s dire warnings about the weather getting seriously wet in the afternoon we split into two groups: the first went off to the pit mound; the second to the woods; meeting back at the van for lunch. Risk assessment for the mound was to be aware of the possibility of shafts opening up spontaneously under one’s feet. That brave group pressed onwards and upwards. I was with the other group meandered off into the woods.

Apart from quite a number of outbreaks of Japenese Knotweed (some of which had been treated) and some questionable felling of trees hear the boundary with the Tweedale Industrial estate we were impressed by the diversity of the area. Its abuse was limited even though the well used Silkin Way ran through the middle of it. As we passed the pool behind the hotel to return to the van a Canada Goose brought its four goslings to see us.

After lunch we set off as a single group to explore the ponds and surrounding woodland. We were greeted by a reed bunting and the plantists dived into the pool edges to see what they could find. Despite Pete’s earlier dire warnings the sun came out and it became very warm. This brought out some insects including a large red damsel fly and a grey wagtail put in an appearance.

Another Friday, another gem of a site.

Central Hall
Named after a Methodist Chapel that used to stand in this area, Central Hall is woodland with a couple of pools and small section of disused canal. And what a surprising area it turned out to be, another oasis in the urban sprawl of Telford.

After an impromptu talk given by one of the local residents who happened to be passing we again split into two groups to find what we could find.

There was plenty of birdsong, but could you see the little (and not so little) blighters? No, well not many, apart from robins, which love to pose. The plantists had a great time. The advancing season has brought out new flowers and grasses (or sedges?) Brian, Linda and Penny were in their element. There are now a few plants that I can identify (impresses my wife), but I am totally inadequate in their company!

Lunch was taken by the pool and after lunch and the site of Penny and Liz negotiating the edge of the pool to look at some orchids, one group went pond dipping and the rest carried on the exploration.

One area of the site was covered by raspberries. These in turn were covered in bees of many sorts, hardly any of which looked remotely like the pictures on the card I was using to identify them.

Another Friday, another gem of a site, especially for the birds and bees.

Muxton revisited
I took advantage of the fine weather on Sunday to visit Muxton Marsh. How it has changed. The grass is green, there is a glow of yellow from buttercups. A Jay was flitting about. (The bat boxes are still in place).Amongst the flowers I found one which I could not find in my book. What is it?

Keith Fowler
Suggestions in Comments below please.

4 May 2009

Dothill, Granville & Tweedale Surveys

Bluebells courtesy of Lis Dalby

April 24th saw us at Dothill for the first Wrekin Forest Volunteers survey of 2009.

I thought I hadn't visited this area before but on arrival I realised I'd travelled right through the centre of it a few months back when I walked part of the Silkin Way from Bratton to Apley Castle but a full day surveying the wildlife was a far better prospect than merely walking through!

As a wildlife site it scores high on so many grounds; ponds, open spaces and woodland juxtapose comfortably with each other offering diverse habitats and scope for investigation especially when crawling on all-fours holding a field-glass!

Pond-dipping was something many of us hadn't done before and I have to say we all found it fascinating. What surprised me was that life exists in the most unlikely places; scrape the bottom of a very murky pond with a net, deposit contents into tray, wait a minute or so and the whole thing comes alive!

On arrival at the outskirts of Pond 1, and whilst the scouts led by Pete forged a way through the undergrowth, we were blessed with a dozen or more Speckled Woods excitedly flitting around an apple tree. Fabulous sight!

Photo by Keith Fowler

There were also patches of the beautiful Lady's Smock...

Photo by Nigel Cane-Honeysett

Much more to be done with identifying wild flowers, trees, insects, birds, woodlice, spiders etc etc. Lots of records have now been sent to Pete for submission into the Trust database using the spreadsheet template (there's a copy in the yahoo group forum if you want to download one for yourself for future recording).

A week later on May 1st saw another great day blessed mostly with sunshine although clouding over slightly in the afternoon for our trip to Granville. This was actually planned as a much larger area to survey going as far north as Muxton Marshes but we all seemed to get way-laid with so much to see and record even as we clambered out of the bus - so much more to do in the surrounding areas.

Having only visited Granville Nature Reserve a couple of times before I found a deeper delve was particularly interesting and again a diverse habitat worthy of further exploration.

One of the many interesting insects we came across was a Cuckoo Bee which mimics the bird of the same name, not by flying around singing cuckoo, buzz, cuckoo, buzz I may add, but by virtue of the fact that it lays its eggs in another bumble bee hive and doesn't even thank them for looking after their brood.

May 8 saw us tripping the light fantastic in Tweedale Wood.

A rather unique area seemingly squashed between an industrial estate and a caravan park but a a fascinating place with lots of plant and creature potential. One of the first plants recorded was a spotted orchid of type yet unknown until it flowers.

And a day-flying moth caught in the net again remains unidentified as yet but in the meantime Les has christened it Elvis as it appears to be wearing a gold lame coat (that's not 'lame' by the way - should have an accent over the 'e' but can't seem to find one anywhere!).

And then there was this strange thingy on a silver birch tree...

Photo by Rhys Perry

I was convinced that it was that old favourite; the Face-Mask Fungus but with due diligence Rhys managed to correctly ID it. This short report has been lifted from the forum;-

Enteridium lycoperdon - is a fairly common species of slime mould, and is typically seen on standing dead trees in the spring, or on large pieces of fallen wood. Alder is a common host; the slime mould emerges from beetle holes in the bark.

Thanks for the heads up on a great fungi ID website too Rhys with Visual Fungi Have added this as a link on the sidebar for everyone's future reference. Great site!

We were also very fortunate to get a rare sighting of the very elusive Wood Goose - possibly the first in the UK...
Obviously searching in vain for a mate as he has a little tear falling from his eye. Ahhhh.

Where Is It Competition

I thought I'd occasionally drop in a competition pic offering one of my hugely popular prizes from my little box of everything. I don't think this will prove too difficult for anyone but as my long-standing friend Vera Wayfromer says 'it's the early nerd that catches the tern'.

You'll never know whether you're in first though as I'll be withholding all answers for a few days! Pop your answers in 'Comments' at the bottom of this post.

Caption competition
No prizes for this one and apologies to Graham and Jenny but I just couldn't resist it! Suitably silly suggestions for a caption in Comments below please. Thanks to both for permission to publish.

Garden Moth Scheme

As Nigel's porch-trapping seems to have dried-up for the time being Les and I are enjoying getting slightly ahead of the game!

The numbers in my moth trap are never very great but occasionally a little gem pops in to say hello. Last Friday saw my first Brimstone moth in the trap.

Just 7 moths across 7 species caught including a Scalloped Hazel, Pebble Hook Tip and a Flame Shoulder so a nice small neat little mix - as is this week's slideshow

Click the collage to view the slideshow