13 Feb 2010

Apley Castle 29-01-10

Photo: Nigel Cane-Honeysett

My long-standing friend (I do wish she’d sit down) Vera Wayfrommer - a big fan of this blog - asked me the other day why I never publish a photo of her. Thing is (get a little closer so she doesn’t hear - I’ll whisper) you’ve heard of the beauty of Helen of Troy launching a thousand ships? Well Vera’s claim to fame is that she sank a thousand frigates! My mission is to save you all from her - hence no photo!
 Apley Castle on Friday Jan 29th was another great success I’m sure we all agree. Whenever the Wrekin Forest Volunteers lend a hand or 12 we always get looked after really well. Despite, rain, snow, hail, sleet and intense cold we were once more treated to a veritable feast - a hot-food picnic in the woods with Sausage Casserole followed by Plum Crumble and custard with mugs of hot steaming tea and coffee to accompany it all! Thanks go to Sean and his cheerful and obliging Friends of Apley Castle.

These aren’t ‘film-grain pics by the way - the camera lens is looking through sleet and hail.

Photo: Nigel Cane-Honeysett
We were here to work, of course! So ‘the Friends’ and the WuFuv’s all mucked in together. Olly,  who now spends a lot of his working week here in Apley Castle Woods, was our guide for the day and with his suggestions we trimmed back and cut down much of the box hedge that had grown out of control. A spot of tree planting (oaks and whips) was also on the agenda. This is Liz obviously 'working' with Olly and Jim advising in true hole-digging fashion!

Hang on! What’s happening over there?

Kevin? No!

Photo: Nigel Cane-Honeysett

My camera unfortunately died sometime during the day - probably a result a soaking at Devils Dingle but thanks to Les and Nigel between us we managed to get a few pics. There was a proviso for using Les’s pics though - I had to publish one he took of me so…

Photo: Les Hughes

What do you think - ideal subject for a Caption Competition?

I must also include this one from Les as it so epitomises the beauty of Apley Castle

Photo: Les Hughes

The regular WuFuV’s met many new volunteers from the Apley Castle area on the day including someone who appears to be hiding in the undergrowth… 


Say hello to Nikki who arrived to lend an extra pair of helping hands.
Photo: Les Hughes

Don’t know why but I can’t help feeling there’s a red pointy hat and fishing rod missing here!

Anyway, all in all an excellent day in Apley Woods and looking forward to our planned Moth Night here on July 9th.

Oh… nearly forgot - we have a winner for the last ‘Where Is It’ Competition - find out who was clever enough to work it all out at the next meet.
180208 036

Catch you all shortly…

Click collage to see more pics
Apley Castle 290110 PEW's Pics (Downloaded from Boots to CD as camera gone for repair)

7 Feb 2010

The Wrekin - Mammal Boxes

Had to cancel my Friday excursion with the Wrekin Forest volunteers this week due to a 3-day decorating programme which stretched to 6! Saturday’s planned day out with Mike Williams and crew at Stiperstones also fell foul of the paint brush. My Apley Castle blog post from the previous week was well under way but not completed so it was fortuitous that Nigel emailed his article for posting to the blog. Apley Castle article to follow shortly, but in the meantime over to Nigel Cane-Honeysett for his first-ever posting on the group’s blog: Friday’s foray on The Wrekin …
Small mammal nesting boxes – Wrekin Forest said the programme. Brian, Jim, Liz and I (Nigel) met up at the Telford pickup point and duly clambered aboard the battle bus containing Pete, Jamie and Alistair along with two wheelbarrows (more of them later) and a lot of little boxes - and they all looked just the same. (There’s a pink one and a blue one and a green one etc). Actually they were all wood coloured but this blog is renowned for going off on one so I thought I’d keep the tradition up.

Arriving at Forest Glen we met Penny, Mike, Keith, Linda, Allison and Kevin’s car, but where was Kevin (Lilleshall, Apley Castle ?). Penny volunteered to look for him but settled for summoning him using only the power of her mind .

Once together we embarked on a litter pick around the car park and collected 16 black sacks of rubbish here guarded by Alistair and Jamie.


Prize litter pick of the day went to Penny who found the golf bag (minus clubs) closely followed by Alistair who found a rusty shovel which was stored on the bus - you never know when it might come in useful. Some debate arose during the litter pick around controlling the problem – my view (not necessarily that of the management) is that a “litter tax” should be levied on any company whose name featured in any of the sacks so look out C*db*rys (or do I mean Kr*ft), W*lkers and D*r*x (get your Mum or Dad to explain that last one).

Litter picking and griping done we bussed or legged it to Burnt Cottage Coppice (I think) where we unloaded twenty mammal des res and set off up the path leaping aside to avoid Tom in a Landrover.

Pete explained the task with Liz providing illustrations of a dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius) from her Collins Complete British Wildlife and we plunged into the undergrowth in determined style. In order to keep it simple Pete suggested that we split into two and started halfway with each team going in a different direction and counting up from eleven or down from ten depending on ..... well we knew what he meant – honest!

We took it in turns to tie boxes onto trees etc with the ubiquitous blue string (no soup for the clangers again!)

whilst others determined what the canopy coverage was (on a scale of A to D) and how dense the undergrowth/shrubbery was (on a scale of 1 to 5). Allison acted as Estate agent


recording this and other suitable comments (close to main track, south facing etc.) Penny, using her nautical knowledge explained how we could get knotted (or knotting perhaps).

Some debate arose whether the aspect should refer to the position of the box on the tree or whether it should be whichever way the residence faced (made more difficult as the entrance was in the back) – this kept us amused for well....minutes!

Choice dwellings were half timbered…


Or thatched…


Kevin then provided gridrefs for all boxes, in between grumbles that the GPS wasn’t really accurate enough with all the interference from trees (quite how they were interfering with him I don’t know) and Jim provided bearings from one box to the next for later survey work.

Having completed twenty boxes we lunched which was when the wheelbarrows really came into their own.

Just a couple of barrow boys! (Ed.)

Penny meanwhile propped up a tree to Liz’s bemusement.


We discussed the Silkin Way walk planned for 19th February and agreed to start from Princess Royal Hospital around 10 ish and finish as close to the Woodbridge Inn as possible around whateverish. Please let Pete know if you are coming.

After lunch we reloaded the barrows with boxes and followed a different path to erect them. This time we started at the beginning and finished at the end – much to our confusion !

The terrain was steep – so much so that I thought we must be putting up boxes for a new species Muscardinus monticulum (alright so I made that up!).

Kevin tried out Penny’s tree propping technique


While Mike and Liz referred to the Ikea instructions for erecting a new dormouse domicile.


We finished earlier than usual and made our way back home.

The whole day moved me to poetry:-

Your house ?
Dormouse !

a bit long perhaps.

Article by Nigel Cane-Honeysett