25 Jan 2010

Devil’s Dingle

Devils Dingle 220110 043

Rain! And rain! And even more rain! Were we bothered? Nope. Nothing much stops The Wrekin Forest Volunteers in their quest to keep our wildlife happy, although this visit was cancelled 2 weeks ago, due to snow which made this somewhat remote part of Shropshire inaccessible.

So Friday Jan 22nd saw around 15 of us arrive at this former ash dump for the Buildwas Power Station where we met up with host Mary and other members of the e.on staff. We were later joined by Kevin who unfortunately had arrived at Allscott on the other side of the county before discovering he was on the wrong site, whilst Nigel in the meantime alighted from the No. 94 bus only to watch our mini-bus disappearing up the lane to the top of the site. Managing to almost catch us up at the next set of gates he again stood waving as we set off once more without seeing him!

Anyway, our mission today, apart from ensuring we all got thoroughly soaked, was to clear the young alder from two adjacent sites to open up the area and encourage other flora and fauna.
So this was the main site just as we launched the attack
Devils Dingle 220110 016
A couple of hours later and we’d virtually finished, complete with fire ready for lunch!
Devils Dingle 220110 038
But not before we caught Lis growing a second head so that she could talk on her mobile and t’other Liz at the same time!
Devils Dingle 220110 019
And a shot of a very wet Penny who holds the notion that on days when rain never abates it’s best not to wear a hat or hood and enjoy, instead, a 3-hour rain shampoo. I have to say, after struggling with my sodden woolly hat and fighting with a hood that constantly gets in the way I entirely agree!
Devils Dingle 220110 030
Lunch-time arrived very quickly. Pete announced there would to be no jacket spuds today but fortunately Steve from e-on had the superb idea to bring along a mountain of Sainsbury’s Butchers Choice Sausages and a crop of onions. All of which was a very welcome addition to my soggy egg sarnies.

As I gratefully accepted a fabulous hot dog from the barbeque I optimistically asked if there was any English mustard and tomato ketchup much to everyone’s amusement but then… guess what? Nigel obliged and produced, as if by magic, a large plastic pouch out of his rucksack which was stuffed full of all the condiments anyone could ever wish for. Bliss! Sheer bliss!

Devils Dingle 220110 046

Later Penny treated a few of us to a fascinating dissertation about Primroses which apparently can be quite promiscuous - or was that the cowslips? I’m afraid, the remainder of this fascinating and impromptu talk passed me by as I mused on how primroses could be in the slightest way promiscuous.

A vision in my mind was conjured up of these rather innocent looking plants slowing slinking off in the dead of night to visit other beds, returning to their exact daytime spot just before dawn breaks. Vivid is the imagination when daydreams take hold but I will probably now never look at a primrose in the same way! But, I fear, I must make more of an effort to rein in my thoughts as I now have to ask Penny again what promiscuous primroses really do get up to!

Enough of this frivolity!

Devils Dingle 220110 018

After lunch we moved on to the other site just over the lagoon inlet stream where we again set-to cutting down the alder. Still in the rain.

Look at that. What? That… that thing in the pool. Have I photographed for the first time that elusive, rarely seen Devil’s Dingle Lagoon Monster? I’m certain that’s what it is. I watch it for some minutes. It doesn’t move, but it seems to be quietly and eerily observing.

Devils Dingle 220110 050

It suddenly disappears and then slowly, very slowly emerges, bedraggled from the water.

Devils Dingle 220110 048

Now that’s scary. Very scary! Identified as Reptilia Keethica this is something we shall have to be careful of when we spend the night here on a proposed moth night! This was something Pete, Mary and I discussed (could that be Peter, Paul & Mary of 60’s fame?) and agreed it would be a great idea. So once a date has been set I’ll let everyone know. As Mary explained, there have been surveys for butterflies, plants, birds and bats but not our resident moths. It should prove very interesting on the diverse habitats that exist here at Devil’s Dingle. 

Before I disappear back into the oblivion I call ‘offline’ just wanted to introduce a new member of the Wrekin Forest Volunteers. So… a big welcome to James, a very competent and enthusiastic guy but I just wonder, James, whether you know what you’re letting yourself in for here?!

Devils Dingle 220110 054

Catch you all later - oh and a quick note to Kevin - next Friday, we’re at Apley Castle and could someone please look out of the mini-bus rear window in case Nigel’s running behind again!

PS. No-one yet has answered correctly both parts of the ‘Where Is It’ competition to win another of my much sought-after and highly prized prizes so it rolls over for another week. Here’s the pic again.

I need the name of yonder hill and from where was it taken? See ‘Comments’ at the bottom of the Lilleshall post to discover what’s been said so far.

13 Jan 2010

Lilleshall Hill

 Pic: Nigel Cane-Honeysett

Lilleshall Hill on Friday, January 8th, 2010 saw The Wrekin Forest Volunteers helping friends of the hill clearing scrub, opening up views and expanding wildlife areas - all in the snow!

Enter Nigel performing the annual 'Dance of the Snow Queen'

I very nearly missed this opening ceremony standing as I was in the school car park where - without checking beforehand - I assumed we were to meet based on the fact we met on our previous excursion here. No-one else arrived so I walked up the hill to see if there were any signs - no-one around. Walked back down, then re-read the info - we were meeting at the Memorial Hall! Eventually found the SWT mini-bus but everyone had long since left to head up the hill. It was around an hour later that I eventually caught up with the happy throng.

There were around 15 of us today WuFuV's and other volunteers from the village and we split into 3 groups working on different tasks although the main focus was to open up views and create new wildlife habitats. And what superb views over the surrounding snow-covered countryside.

Lunch was a congregation on the steps of the monument where we were treated to a short impromptu history of the monument, the hill and surrounding area by two very knowledgeable members of the local community - must remember to take a notepad and pencil with me in future like I used to as I could then have made a note of their names! Sorry guys but if you're reading this please make yourself known to us!

                         Pic: Nigel Cane-Honeysett

And what a beautifully perfect blue sky we were blessed with all day. Cold though it was.

Incidentally there's a great panoramic view from Lilleshall Hill on the BBC Shropshire website

There are more pics in the snow, below on the slideshow but first... I've been asked by many (well... Kevin at least) when the next 'Where Is It?' competition will be... so here it is:-

OOOOPS! Wrong pic! That IS Kevin!

Where Is It?

What a fabulous place to live! All I will say, as with all the Where Is It? competitions, is that it's in Shropshire. What's the yonder hill and where is it looking from?

Answers in comments below and can someone else beat Keith Fowler to the finishing line this time PLEASE?

Diary Notes
The Moth Night programme was posted on the WuFuV forum before Christmas and I think I've also emailed everyone I know with the file but if you've been missed you can view and download this from the forum in the Files section Click Here - open to all 

Butterfly Survey. Along with Graham Statham I was recently invited to Dr Jenny Joy's house for what turned out to be a very interesting chat about butterflies and moths and their local habitats, development threats etcetera along with programmes for 2010.

Jenny, who is a very active member of Butterfly Conservation and the Shropshire Butterfly Group also runs the Telford Butterfly Group and between us we set what should be a great day in the field for all interested in looking at, surveying and helping to record the butterflies of the Telford area. No special equipment needed although, of course, if you have a butterfly net and pots you won't want to be leaving them in the shed!

So please pop Saturday, May 15th in your diary - meet 12 noon at the main Car Park at Granville Nature Reserve (SJ719125). Records from the event will be forwarded to both Shropshire Wildlife Trust and Butterfly Conservation. We would hope to see Small Heath, Small Copper, Green Hairstreak and Dingy Skipper with perhaps - just maybe Silver-washed Fritillary. We shall see!

NB: We all have our favourite field reference guides but a great one that I use is Collins Butterfly Guide by Tom Tolman, illustrated by Richard Lewisham.

Catch you all shortly