Picnic and Bioblitz for Blyth Woods Friends

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.

AGM and “Wild Wenhaston” 30th June 2021

We had a full house (allowing for Covid restrictions) in the Village Hall for our AGM on 30th June.

Our Chair, Ann Edwards, reported that the last year had been a strange and difficult time, but in spite of that, the Blyth Woods group had continued working when we could. 

We cleared the pond in Malster’s Field last autumn. The pond is now holding water and plants are beginning to grow. Water Crowfoot is flowering in the pond itself. We replanted some of the new trees there that hadn’t made it in last spring’s dry weather and will do more this year.

We built a new footbridge from the corner of Grove Piece onto the field leading down to Back Road, as the ditch had become impassible following heavy rain. We also installed a new bench in Grove Piece. 

Our bird boxes have been well used, with blue tits the dominant species. Barn owls and kestels are frequent visitors, though not nesting yet. Badger tracks and brown hares have been spotted. The floral diversity continues to increase.  

We encouraged ‘Footpath Art’ during the long winter.

We planted some new fruit trees in Merton Woods orchard and cleared and mulched the existing ones. We also planted new hedging in the gap between the old Woottens site and the orchard.

Blyth Woods has now taken over the management of Vicarage Grove on a lease agreement with the Church, which means we can manage Grove Piece, Malster’s Little Field and Vicarage Grove as one unit, which we are calling Grove Woods.

Projects for the future include activities with the school, reassessing the ash dieback situation, plotting and photographing the significant trees in the area and continuing to look for other areas that might be better used for woodland or rewilding.

Our Chair finished by thanking the team and encouraging those who are interested to join us, either as a member or as a volunteer.  (blythwoods1@gmail.com)

Our Guest Speaker was Argus Hardy of WildEast.  

Argus is a farmer, architect and committed conservationist, with a passion for the Wild East of England, its landscapes, people and wildlife, and one of three founder trustees of WildEast.

Apart from a 50 year project to bring back the lynx, WildEast’s mission is to ‘rewild’: to recover what we lost fifty years ago by encouraging farmers to restore hedges and create wildflower meadows, wetlands and areas of scrub on their land. Village and city communities can help by providing wildlife ponds and areas for wildlife in school playgrounds and churchyards. Even the individual can make space for nature in our gardens, balconies and rooftops. 

In only a year WildEast has already achieved much for nature recovery across East Anglia. It has been working with farm shops, the East of England Co-op, the National Trust, farmers, schools, whole villages; and with overwhelming enthusiasm all have taken up the WildEast Pledge to restore and rewild. WildEast’s ‘Map of Dreams’ is taking shape. (www.wildeast.co.uk)

Argus ended his inspiring and invigorating talk by praising our village conservation groups and urging us to unite in projects to create our own ‘Wild Wenhaston’. 

Patricia Elliot

The Orchard at Merton Wood

Way back in 2012 the newly formed Blyth Woods group, together with the Commons Group and children from Wenhaston School, helped Suffolk Wildlife Trust to plant a Community Orchard/Nuttery of 29 trees at Merton Wood. The trees have not flourished as we had hoped they would and so we invited Paul Read of the Suffolk Traditional Orchards Group, to visit and give some advice on ways forward with the orchard. It seems that the main problem is probably that the trees originally planted did not have a suitably vigorous rootstock to grow well in grassland. Last Saturday we started to prepare for interplanting the existing trees with some that have a rootstock that should create stronger growth. Eight trees should be arriving soon from a specialist nursery and so on Saturday we cleared the grass from small patches of ground and pre-dug the planting holes to give these new trees a good start.

The existing trees have not been abandoned. The grass around their trunks has been cleared for a one metre circle and they have been given a good straw mulch. We hope that this will encourage them to produce some fruit while the new trees are growing.