14 Apr 2010

Wild In The Woods

This is a re-visit to the Shropshire Wildlife Trust campsite at Dairy Pit in The Ercall Woods to celebrate the end of The Wrekin Forest Volunteers winter programme and to herald in the new spring and summer events for 2010 with a 3-day camp Thursday - Saturday March 25 - 27, 2010. And a great time we all had too!

Although not everyone is pleased all of the time!

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“Never mind Kevin, I’m sure there’s another cuppa in the pot!”

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He’ll get over it!

So… first thing to do is put up our ‘tarp’ as shelter, light the campfire and get another brew on… whilst others get stuck in with the real work; sawing, cleaving and generally tidying up the bottom area of Dairy Pit.

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While Rob gets ‘geared up’ for some serious stuff Nigel gets stuck in with the bow saw and Les… well Les does what Les does best of all - watches others! Sorry Les - just a joke (only just!)

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“Sometimes I just don’t know my own strength”

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Returning to run another of his now legendary charcoal burns Granville is here with us again - otherwise known as ‘King of Kilns’ but Rob has designs on the title as he attempts to knock him off his lofty perch!'

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But what’s this? Another contender? “Take that you young pipsqueak, you’re no match for the mighty King of Kilns!” Actually, that’s not even Granville’s arm reigning the deadly blow on ‘Les The Optimistic Challenger’. He must have employed a posse to help him guard the kiln and his title!

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Rhona looks on in bewilderment “What on earth have I let myself in for here?”

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Sorry about that! Just got carried away for a few minutes there, but then my long-standing friend (I do wish she’d sit down) Vera Wayfrommer would say I should be carried away more often!

Anyways…back to the plot…

I think there’s someone here who can’t wait for the working horse to arrive! (Bloggers’ grandson Kieran)

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‘Maybe I can impress a few people with my vast knowledge of moths while I wait for horsey’.

“Now, this is what my gramps caught in his trap last night. I mean it’s so obviously a Small Quaker I don’t know why he struggled to find its name, it’s so simple!”

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And here he is - here comes Domino!

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He’s a gypsy cob led by his owner Alan Williams. They’ve travelled from Cheshire to be with us today to move the logs from site down to the road for onward transport. It’s far kinder to the habitat to use a horse for this work rather than a huge tractor and much quieter. You can also make friends with a horse. Most of us did! Try doing that with a tractor!
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“OK Mr Williams… I’ll take over now !”

Meanwhile, Liz finds a Cardinal Beetle larva... 

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and a fabulously well-camouflaged Two-banded Longhorn Beetle -  
Rhagium bifasciatum

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Identified with help from our friends at Wild About Britain  A website well worth visiting (link opens a new window so you won’t be taken away from this fantastically informative, witty and entertaining blog!). If you register you can upload pics of anything wild that you may come across and there’s usually someone there in the forum ready to suggest an identification.
All in all an excellent 3-day event getting back to nature once more and practicing our newly-found woodland skills. Thanks to Pete, Granville and Alan for supplying all the expertise and knowledge and for all the woodland stories they relate - a few of them we actually believe!

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Please click the collage below to view more pics from the event:-

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1 Apr 2010

Newport Canal

March 19, 2010 sees The Wrekin Forest Volunteers arriving at Newport Canal just along the towpath from the town centre greeted by a patch of newly opened Coltsfoot flowers.

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And loads of new buds just bursting with life…Newport Canal 190310 005Newport Canal 190310 011
Pete gives us the rundown on what is expected today from this ever-growing band of happy, sometimes crazy volunteers and warning us that there is water about so if you’re going to fall in make sure you shout loudly as you do so!

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Pete suggests we split into 2 groups; a team of tree-fellers or is that three-fellas - nope - there’s five!

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And the rest of us are going to be planting 250 new trees! Just as well there's around 14 of us then!
Hang on! Where are the trees? Pete makes an urgent call to Andrew who assures us they’re on the way.
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Trees (or whips) soon arrive and we throw them straight into the canal!

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This, of course, is just to keep them happy and well-watered whilst we decide where to put them. Amongst the bunches are hawthorn, blackthorn, sallow and Guelder rose.

This is Lis and Linda planting one of the trees watched by Pete who is threatening to whip them if all 250 trees don’t go in! Wearing protective hat in case of reprisal.


Actually, I don’t know whether we're particularly sluggish, jovial or maybe just tired today but we very nearly run out of time - the final 100 going in during the last hour in a combined tree-planting frenzy!

Life as seen through a spade handle
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All except Kevin who seemed to spend most of his time washing his boots in a bucket!

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All in all, job well done with all 250 new trees planted (just!) and a small number of non-native trees and shrubs such as laurel and conifer removed.

Other interesting stuff from the day included this lovely little beast:-


Along with Andrena haemorhoa an early Mining Bee who stopped by to say hello and a weevil found by Liz; Notaris bimaculatus. I thought I had pics for both but it seems I don't - unless I've somehow managed to save the insects and lose the pics!

Catch you all soon - and look forward to seeing some of you at Muxton Marsh on the 9th for our first Moth night of the year.

Click the collage below for the Newport Canal slideshow

WFV Newport Canal