Apologies if you’ve been missing these news bulletins – I offer the usual excuse of having too much to do in retirement. To make amends, here is a selection of the activities that have been taking place in the last few months up at the quillet, starting with the most recent, which is:
Our New Information Board
In recent months our Treasurer, Anthony Morgan, has been steadily working to create a handsome information board that tells passers-by about the wood, the quillet, and the wildlife. As you can see, it is now firmly in place at the foot of the quillet steps. Many thanks to Shropshire Hills AONB for funding this and to Shropshire Wildlife Trust for advice on the content.
“In woods we forget things, at the wood edge we tell stories”. This is a project run by poet, Jean Atkin, which provided opportunities for three different groups from the community in south Shropshire to spend time in native woodlands, learn real, useful conservation skills, respond to place through poetry, and perform their own site-specific work. The project is funded by the Shropshire Hills AONB Conservation Fund and Shropshire Housing Group. The three groups were Bishop’s Castle Primary School, St Mary’s CE Primary School, Bucknell and the Working Together Group, a Ludlow-based registered charity that provides a focus for people with learning disabilities and their families. It was this last group that visited the Brineddin quillet with Jean Atkin, and Karen Limbrick. The group of three young people visited twice during September, the first time to draw inspiration from the wood to write their poems and to carry out protection of some coppiced hazel, the second time to “perform their poems to the wood.” Jean publishes the poems here. On Wednesday 9th November at 6.00 pm, the three groups will met up for a celebration of the project at the Assembly Rooms in Ludlow. All are welcome.
Bicycle Wheel Coppicing.
With a healthy deer population (17 spotted in a field adjoining the woods early one morning!), we find ourselves between a rock and a hard place as far as our hazel understory is concerned. If we don’t coppice, the hazel will die of old age, and many are in the process of doing exactly that. If we do coppice, the deer will nibble the new shoots and leaves, and they are doing exactly that. The solution? Well, isn’t it obvious? Bicycle wheels. Courtesy of Pearce Cycles in Ludlow we were permitted to raid the skip at the back of their workshop and bring home a selection of buckled wheels. Scrap metal to some; gold dust to us. A group of us then applied our imagination and used the wheels as frames in which to insert brash and sticks of varying lengths. In the slide-show below you can see Mk1, Mk2 and Mk 3 versions below, plus Mk 4 constructed from squares of steel mesh fencing. So far they’re proving to be about 75% deer proof. It seems that the deer are reluctant to force their way through anything really solid, but where we left a gap, or sticks later fell out, they have pushed their heads in to reach the tender leaves. It’s not a permanent solution, but it is certainly better than just piling brash on top of the cut stools as that disintegrates within a few months.
The wheels can be cut away at a later date when the young hazel tree is established.
Following a successful visit to the woods by Bishops Castle Community College last Autumn to undertake some coppice work, students went on to make bird boxes . Two of these boxes were recently donated to us, with the promise of more to come from this year’s students. The college is planning to arrange an article about them for the Shropshire Star.
Bucknell School Pupils Achieve John Muir Award.
We reported last year how pupils from Bucknell School were working towards their John Muir Award. All pupils achieved their awards and in February were presented with them on the same day that the Ofsted Inspectors were in. The school was given a clean bill of health, no doubt influenced by what the inspectors had learned about the awards.
Board members have now agreed a number of future activities.
At the top of the flight of steps a woodland glade will be created by felling a few rather weak and spindly oaks that are not thriving. This will let more light penetrate and it will be interesting to see what effect that will have on the ground flora. We are also keen to discover if the oaks will regenerate, but a few rowan and bird cherry trees will also be planted there that have been kindly donated by a local farmer.
An area has been identified that is suitable for what we hope will be more permanent deer protection. Special reinforced plastic fencing will be bought to surround a space where hazel and weak oaks will be coppiced and encouraged to regrow, hopefully safe from the grazing deer.
Some of this work will be carried out by Shropshire Council’s Wild Team led by Simon Brown.
Dates for your diaries:
More work parties are planned for the following Sundays: 27 November 2016, 8 January 2017, 12 February and 12 March, shareholders, friends and family are more than welcome to join us.
Although the date has not been confirmed, the Society will be be holding another Woodland Fayre in 2017 – probably at the beginning of October. This is as the result of many requests for a follow-up of the high successful event held in 2012. Was it really that long ago?