Showing posts from 2016

'Beating the bounds', 'Between the Oaks, along the hedge and down by the brook', and other walks

'Beating the bounds' is a traditional Ascension Day ritual in which the whole parish territorially walked its perimeter and beat children so they wouldn't forget the precise features. There's probably a better explanation than this elsewhere but those are the points I remember.

'Between the Oaks, along the hedge and down by the brook' conjures an impression of bygone rural pedestrian days when meeting someone was arranged with reference to well known landscape features. In Colley Gate for example we had the 'Water Stile', 'The Gulley', 'Lutley Gutter' - a green lane, the Razzle Dazzle - a perilous, sloping brick paved cut through which was treacherous in icy conditions, the 70 Steps - to this day dividing opinion as to the exact number; all wonderfully nostalgic, echoing a time shift identity and a society of character born out of toil and hardship.
Nostalgia is a 'return to suffering or pain', but many of us view the old days an…

Lifford - William Dargue - A History of BIRMINGHAM Places & Placenames

Lifford Woods
An area of land bordering the River Rea at Allens Croft, with a pathway to Lifford Reservoir and Lifford Hall.
The linear woodland runs either side of the river with willows and alders thriving.

The site is little used today, with most people passing along the walkway, whilst much of the area is out of the public domain, cut off by railway embankment and the river. 

In terms of wildlife, I guess this is under recorded, as are most sites, all records should be submitted to EcoRecord and twitter is a good way of doing this. 
The account below is taken from "Lifford - William Dargue - A History of BIRMINGHAM Places & Placenames"
B30 - Grid reference SP055796 la Ford: first record 1250 Lifford stands close to the ford across the River Rea. As the red clay on the east side of Birmingham became slimy and slippery in wet weather, a place where the river ran over a firmer bed would have been a draw for local people and for longer-distance travellers for thousands of ye…

B&BCWT - Kingfisher, Water Vole Stickleback and Bullhead Records on the River Rea


Our attention now turns to trees and woodland

Our attention now turns to trees and woodland - 
The woodland season begins with an introduction to managing small wooded areas, with topics involving -
coppicing (practice and theory)tools - bowsaw, billhook, axehealth and safetybiodiversityspecies identification'crafting the woodland'managing accesspublic relationsinterpretation This year's chosen coppicing plot at Highbury- 
Coppice - To cutCoppicing is a traditional method of woodland management which takes advantage of the fact that many trees make new growth from the stump or roots if cut down. 
In a coppiced wood, which is called a copse, young tree stems are repeatedly cut down to near ground level. 
In subsequent growth years, many new shoots will emerge, and, after a number of years the coppiced tree, or stool, is ready to be harvested, and the cycle begins again. 
Pollarding is a similar process carried out at a higher level on the tree. (Wiki)

2016-17 - update and plan

A new active season begins in October following a Summer of walking, talking and planning around the Rea Valley. The weekly 'Woodland Wednesdays' at Highbury Park have been well attended and feedback to these regular gatherings is positive.

To add variety to our Wednesday gatherings we have been supported by the B&BC Wildlife Trust 'Nature Improvement Programme', which enabled us to work on a scheme to improve the grassland at Highbury Park.

During August we took delivery of four bales of wildflower rich hay from Eades Meadow;
The lower part of the meadow, adjacent to Shutlock Lane, was treated prior to delivery, this was  followed by hay strewing and yellow rattle seed broadcasting a couple of weeks later, we wait for next year to see the results.

Hay Strewing at Highbury
Our attention now turns to trees and woodland - 
The woodland season begins with an introduction to managing small wooded areas, with topics involving - 

coppicing (practice and theory)tools - bowsaw…

Midsummer bioblitz at Stirchley Park

21st June 2016

Stirchley Park 1 hour bioblitz and a very pleasant evening  Check out the following link for a recent story of the above graffiti mural
BlackbirdWood pigeonPied WagtailWoody nightshadeWhite cloverRed CloverBroadleaf plantainRibwort plantainDaisyCreeping buttercupRye GrassYorkshire FogGrass sp x1Grass sp x1Sheperd’s purseCommon Lime x 2Plane x 6HawthornOak x1SycamoreElderSea Buckthorn x 3DandelionNettle


"In 2001, a research paper in the Journal of Applied Ecology found that 80 per cent of the hawthorn plants supplied by the UK horticultural trade in 1997 came from Germany or Hungary where plants are adapted to substantially different growing conditions."

Hedgerow info for Cannon Hill

Hedgelaying is a grand old autumn/winter practice for managing a hedge and is applicable for most broadleaf hedge types.
 The stem of each tree/shrub is partially cut, or 'pleached' near the base, this allows it to remain attached to the root  and laid to one side, prevented from grounding by the previous stem or a stake. The pleacher remains alive and new growth begins from the base the following spring

Beetles we have found and what do we know?


The River


Holders Woods survey June 2016

Great day in the woods
Hot sunny day, nicley shaded under the canopy of Beech and Oak

Bugs and beasts in the undergrowth

A better day couldn't have been wished for -  Plenty of activity in the woods to keep us enthralled, especially Tree Creepers and Woodpeckers.

Perhaps the star of the day was the Rhinoceros Beetle.

"Looking forward to further wildlife days in the woods" -

The lofty canopy  - "the woodland cathedral"

Highbury Heritage

Exciting prospects for Highbury - 
The recently formed Chamberlain Highbury Trust is planning an event for Heritage Week, September 11th 2016.

Check out their Facebook

Also National Heritage Week details can be found here  -

More details to follow but I've been planning my contribution along the lines of the following (work in progress)

A Heritage Walk The Oaks of Highbury Park (evoking the past)
A mapping walk ‘Between the Oaks’ of Highbury, linking the park today to the estate of Joseph Chamberlain and beyond to England in the reign of William III and Mary II. The Oaks in Highbury are the most common of the mature trees on siteThe oldest tree in the park is Oak (Circa 1693)There is a plantation of Millennium Oaks at Highbury Park planted in 1999-2000The Oak is often reported to support more species than any other UK treeThe walk features trees over a century old that were either in their prime during the e…

A Woodland Wednesday at Highbury Park

Another Woodland Wednesday and another day of discovery at Highbury Park. Jay's displaying but silently, Great Spotted Woodpeckers' feeding their young, a Jackdaw drinking from the stream, Blackbirds and Song Thrushes singing all around and not a peep from the Ringed Neck Parakeets.

Woodland Wednesdays are the perfect way to hold consultation with parks users and there sure is plenty to talk about. On the whole our interests are biological but other factors are in play not least the exciting possibilities posed by the recently formed Chamberlain Highbury Trust.

A cool day, yet dry, so nothing to complain of, on the contarary, it was a day for standing around and watching nature at play in the park.

A pair of Jays danced through the Veteran Oak without a word or a squawk or a screech, but silently hopping and gracefully flying between the beams. It seemed as if it was silent aggression, possibly a territorial dispute between two males, but rather one sided with little demonstra…

Cannon Hill hedgerow

The width of the hedge is now around 2.5 metres, developing the habitat, which consists of more than the shrubs.

The density of the hedge, together with its shading and sheltering potential, currently makes it particularly suitable for nesting birds such as Blackbird, Song Thrush and Dunnock. Nests from previous years can be seen during winter.

As the hedge grows, and thus thins out at the base, laying will be considered once again, this should occur around 2020.

Many wildflowers grow alongside and underneath the overhang - the last count recorded around 40 different plant species.

Ten Acres Revisited