7pm Thursday 7th April 2022 at Wenhaston Village Hall
Short business meeting
Wenhaston Wildlife 2020/21 , presentation by Alan Miller
Wild Wenhaston Forum
Working together for the benefit of our environment
We hope to work out how we can best help the environment and encourage species diversity. Local environmental groups and interested individuals have been invited so it should be a chance to chat to each other and share ideas.
The winter work parties kicked off with some planting and some removing. Back in the spring a shake of a few local ragged robin seed heads produced many seedlings and some were planted on the west side of the pond edge in Malster’s Little Field. We hope to establish an area of wetland flora in the soggy edge of the pond.
In Vicarage Grove the success of holly growth had to be curbed in order to encourage the germination of ground flora and other saplings that needed light. Areas of holly were removed by pulling or digging out small rooted plants and cutting back more mature growth. There is a lot of holly in the wood and we do not aim to remove all of it, it provides valuable roosting sites for birds and the berries are a food source. The brashings were gathered up into a loose dead hedge along the edge of the wood perhaps helping to deter Muntjac deer from entering and providing shelter and food source to a variety of insects and small mammals.
A group of six volunteers from the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty offered to work in the wood and we allocated them a patch of holly to clear. They worked hard all day and made such an impact on the holly clearance creating a neat and substantial dead hedge on the perimeter. We are very grateful for their support and we would love to take up their offer of more help next year. Another bonus for us was that we gained a new volunteer from the group at our regular work parties.
We have been fortunate to receive a large number of trees this year from the Tree Wardens Scheme and Woodland Trust as well as the Conservation Volunteers. The trees have been planted in the northern end of Grove Woods to thicken up a scrub area and to fill in a depleted hedge and in Grove Piece dead trees were replaced and the scrub areas defining the edges of the natural regeneration were added to. Some standalone trees were planted in the natural regeneration area on the eastern side where regeneration has been absent or slower. In the main we have planted trees found in the immediate locality however there are some additions of varieties to broaden the variety and to experiment with trees that can tolerate climate change. In Malster’s little Field the boundary hedge planted by the school had dead trees replaced and in places the hedge was made thicker. More trees were planted into the coppicing area scrub varieties were planted between standalone trees.
We planted five more fruit trees in the community orchard at Merton Wood and also replaced the section of hedge that was removed by adjacent developers. We look forward to the autumn and a bit of scrumping!
The art works from February 2021 have ‘dissolved’ into the environment so we are now inviting you to enjoy and create some art beside the footpaths of Grove Woods in 2022. A few pieces have already arrived, we hope you will discover them.
Raking hay on a late summer evening while chatting to like- minded folk who enjoy being out in the woods is a pretty good way to spend some time. Watching swallows feeding over the meadow, identifying plants that have appeared since the barley cultivation ceased and planning ways forward to support the regeneration of woodland were all part of the work party in Malster’s Little Field. We raked off an area beside the pond that had been cut the day before and piled the vegetation to one side in a heap that grass snakes might find attractive. Our intention is to create a damp, wild flower meadow but it will take time to establish. We hope to help the process along by seeding the area with local wild flower seed and by transplanting seedlings grown from local plants. Cutting and raking should reduce the vigorous growth of grass and give other plants a better chance.
Last year we cut four patches in Malster’s, two areas were controls and two areas were seeded with local wild flower seed collected from paths, verges and field margins near- by . We aim to repeat the process this year and so we raked the four patches that had recently been cut for a second time. It is too soon to see any dramatic change but some yellow rattle plants were spotted so that is encouraging.
It only took us an hour to do that so we then introduced April, a new ‘Friend’, to the copse that leads off Grove Piece on the north side. It took a bit of bramble cutting and branch trimming to uncover the small entrance but we were soon inside where we found a good sized parasol mushroom.
Another interesting evening was spent in Grove Woods earlier in the summer when we weeded the hedge planted by the school and also the trees planted for coppicing. The hazels have survived well but some of the sweet chestnut will need replacing this autumn. We all became aware of how well the bristly ox-tongue was faring when we looked at our socks. In fact we all had to spend time removing the barley seed and prickles but it was worth it!
If you would like to join the next work party it will be held on
Saturday 9th October , meeting in Grove Woods at 10am, you would be most welcome.
On Sunday afternoon last week twenty-five of the Friends of Blyth Woods turned up at Grove Woods for a Bioblitz and Picnic Tea.
This year we focussed the Bioblitz on Malster’s Little Field where we hoped to see a greater variety of wildlife species following the pond restoration and some management of the rest of the field. Everyone went off with clipboards and searched and recorded for over an hour. Then John lit the Kelly Kettle to make tea and coffee and the rest of the steering group uncovered a table full of delicious picnic food. The Kelly Kettle smoked, flamed and steamed, the tea was made and trays of food offered around. Judging by the amount eaten and the favourable comments we think that we maintained our reputation of being the group that provides the best food!
There was much discussion on the finer points of identification as we looked to see what had been recorded. We were not disappointed in the diversity, many new plant species for this year were found that had germinated from the seed bank that must have been in the mud at the bottom of the pond. Some were found in the spoil that had been spread over part of the field and more at the pond edges and in the pond itself. Everyone commented on the large numbers of dragon flies and damsel flies all around the area.
A full list of what was found will be in the next Friends newsletter and will be posted on the website.