Shrewsbury Park Bat Walk on Friday 19th May

Bat Walk Poster 2017

Bats are fully active in May after their winter hibernation, and the females are starting to form maternity colonies and look for suitable nursery sites, such as buildings or trees, getting ready for June when they give birth to a single tiny pup which they feed on their milk. So the first Friends of Shrewsbury Park bat walk of the year should be perfectly timed to see plenty of bats, provided the weather is favourable.

Kris Inglis, Chair of the Friends of Shrewsbury Park sent details of the walk:

Meet in the car park at twilight for an introduction from bat-wise FSP members who will lead the adventure using our eyes, ears and bat detectors!
Walk is free to members, £2 others (but free to join on the day)
• Wear sturdy shoes and appropriate clothing for the weather
• Children must be accompanied by an adult
• Walk lasts about 1 1/2 hours and torches are helpful
• Dogs must be kept on a lead
If you have mobility issues or enquiries please contact us on werfsp@gmail.com and we will help you participate. The trail is a mix of paved path, gravel and grass.
If it rains neither the bats nor us will be coming out!

Summer is a busy time for bat surveyors: they will be walking their NBMP transects, such as that at Woodlands Farm, at the start and end of July looking for pipistrelles, noctules and serotines, then in August there’s the waterway survey for daubenton’s bats and other surveys such as the sunrise/sunset survey. Anyone can volunteer to help in these surveys, and the Bat Conservation Trust provide training in using bat detectors to identify bats, and even loan out bat detectors for the surveys.

At the last Shrewsbury Park Bat Walk, last September, bats were detected almost immediately the walk started. Fingers crossed we’ll have similar luck this time.

Brown Long-eared Bat at Bat Fest
Brown Long-eared Bat at Bat Fest
Brown Long-eared Bat at Bat Fest
Brown Long-eared Bat at Bat Fest

 

 

 

Barn Dances and Bee Walks at Woodlands Farm

Woodlands Farm Barn Dances Poster 2017

There’s a chance to don your gingham, denim and Stetsons, grab your partner and dosey-doe at  Woodlands Farm Barn Dances on Saturday 3rd June and Saturday 8th July.  No skill or experience in barn dancing is required, and usually little is demonstrated at the dance: the steps and sequences are all called out by the band, the excellent Skinner’s Rats.  Hannah from the farm e-mailed the details:

Woodlands Farm Barn Dances
Come along to one of the Woodlands Farm Summer barn dances, taking place in a real farm barn!  With music and calling provided by Skinners Rats the barn dance is guaranteed to be a fun evening.   Bring along your own food, drink and glasses and dine on hay bales to complete the rustic evening.  The barn dances are taking place on Saturday 3rd June and Saturday 8th July from 7.30pm – 11pm.  Tickets are £14.  To book visit our website www.thewoodlandsfarmtrust.org
For more information, see our website or contact The Woodlands Farm office on 020 8319 8900.

Barn dance at Woodlands Farm
Barn dance at Woodlands Farm

The ecological surveys at the farm continue this week with May’s monthly bee walk this Thursday, 18th May, meeting at 2pm at the farm office near the scarecrows. At least seven different types of bee were spotted on last month’s walk: a white tailed bumblebee; garden bumblebee; field cuckoo bumblebee; common carder bee; honey bee; buff tailed bumblebee and a hairy footed flower bee, plus some others that were too quick to accurately identify. Contact Hannah on education@thewoodlandsfarmtrust.org for more details.

Common Carder Bee at Woodlands Farm
Common Carder Bee at Woodlands Farm
Buff-tailed Bumble bee at Woodlands Farm
Buff-tailed Bumble bee at Woodlands Farm
Bee at Woodlands Farm
Bee at Woodlands Farm

Kharny Day at Oxleas Wood Café on Bank Holiday Monday

Kharny Day Picture poster

Bank Holiday Monday, 1st May, sees the second annual Kharny Day at Oxleas Wood Café from 11.00am to 5.00pm. This family fun day and dog show, which attracted over a thousand people last year, includes live music, a dog agility competition, bouncy castles, stalls, a BBQ, face painting and a Gladiator knock out for adults.

Kharny Day was set up by Rachael Webb to commemorate the death of her dog Kharn, killed by an illegally-ridden quad bike in Oxleas Woods on Bank Holiday Monday 2013. Kharn, a Staffie/Lab cross, was  a special dog: Rachael is a disabled woman, and a qualified dog behaviour therapist, who personally  trained Kharn to help her do things she found difficult like emptying the washing machine, supporting her getting up when she fell over and helping her feel more confident in going out. The loss of Kharn was devastating for Rachael.

As well as remembering Kharn, Rachael set up the event to raise awareness that it is illegal to ride bikes in public woodlands and open spaces and to raise funds for animal charities.  Last year funds were raised for Battersea Dogs and Cats, this year it is for the Blue Cross Hospital for Animals and the Old Blue Cross Pet Cemetery on Shooters Hill Road.

What a great way to spend Bank Holiday Monday.

 

Kharny Day poster

Woolwich Opera Works’ Incanto: The Magic of Naples

Woolwich Opera Works Incanto: the magic of Naples poster

Following their very popular Spanish Siesta concert in February, Woolwich Opera Works (WOW) are holding another free concert at All Saints Church in Herbert Road this Sunday, 30th April. Their website provides more detail:

WOW presents three exciting singers and multi-faceted artist Peter Knapp accompanied at the piano by Jeremy Silver. Together they will transport you to Naples in Italy with their operatic gems from Donizetti’s most famous opera The Elixir of Love, sung in Italian with the story line narrated in English. After the interval the concert continues with popular Neapolitan songs including O sole mio and Funiculì Funiculà. Donizetti lived in Naples for 22 years and 51 of his 70 operas were staged there during that time

The soloists on Sunday are bass-baritone Tony Baker, soprano Chiara Vinci and tenor Tristan Stocks with Peter Knapp narrating L’elisir d’amore in English.

Tickets are not required for Sunday’s concert, but it is possible to reserve seats (until 3.50pm) through this website. Tea, coffee and cakes will be sold in the interval by All Saints and there will be a retiring collection for WOW Opera.

 

Sally Silver, Donna Bateman, Ricardo Panela and Dominic Natoli at Woolwich Opera Works’ Spanish Siesta
Sally Silver, Donna Bateman, Ricardo Panela and Dominic Natoli at Woolwich Opera Works’ Spanish Siesta

Woodlands Farm Lambing Day, Easter activities and ecological surveys

Woodlands Farm Lambing Day 2017

It’s a busy time at Woodlands Farm, with the lambing season in full swing and the lambing trained volunteers on a rota to support the ewes. This leads up to the Lambing Day fair on 9th April, Easter Holiday children’s activities and the start of the surveys of the farm’s flora and fauna.

Some 38 of the farm’s 70 pregnant ewes have given birth so far, and there seem to be more triplets this year. The first to lamb were the recently arrived, rare breed Manx Loaghtan which have striking black lambs, now old enough to be gambolling in the fields. The newly born lambs will be on display at the farm’s annual Lambing Day fair on Sunday 9th April from 11am to 4pm, entrance price £2 for adults £1 for children.  The fair will also have the usual stalls, country crafts, children’s activities and café and barbecue.

New lamb at Woodlands Farm
New lamb at Woodlands Farm
New lamb at Woodlands Farm
New lamb at Woodlands Farm

The week after Lambing Day the farm will host its Easter Holiday events for children. Hannah, the Education Officer, wrote with details:

Easter Holiday Events
Tuesday 11th April  Mad Hatters Tea Party  10.30am-12.30pm and 2pm – 4pm
The second in our series of events to celebrate 20 years of the Woodlands Farm Trust.  Come along to our Mad Hatters Tea Party, dress up and join our celebrations as we make fun hats and prepare some food to start the party!  £4 per child.  Booking is essential, to book call 0208 319 8900.  Don’t be late for a very important date!
Wednesday 12th April    Marvellous Minibeasts 10am-12noon or 1pm-3pm
Do you love creepy crawlies and bugs?  Join us as we find out all about minibeasts.  We will be doing a craft as well as using magnifying glasses to see what we can find in the woods.   £4 per child.  Booking is essential, to book call 020 8319 8900.  This walk is not suitable for buggies.
Thursday 13th April   Egg-cellent Easter Trail    Any time between 10am and 2pm
Join us for our annual Easter Trail.  Can you find all the different Easter Eggs and Spring Animals hidden around the farmyard? Find them all and you will get your own Chocolate Easter egg to take home.  Drop in any time between 10am and 2pm.  £2 per child
For more information, see our website or contact Hannah Ricketts on education@thewoodlandsfarmtrust.org

Hannah is also the person to contact if you are interested in helping with the comprehensive set of surveys of the wildlife and plants at the farm. They start with the monthly bee walks to record the numbers and types of bumble bees, the next one of which is on Wednesday 19th April, then there is the first of the pond surveys, mainly looking for amphibians, on Thursday 27th April. Later surveys will include wild flowers, hedgerows, butterflies, moths, mammals and bats.

With luck, there’ll be some corky fruited water dropworts again.

New lamb at Woodlands Farm
New lamb at Woodlands Farm
New lambs at Woodlands Farm
New lambs at Woodlands Farm

Severndroog Castle film night at the Shooters Hill Local History Group

Severndroog Castle
Severndroog Castle

Severndroog Castle is the topic of the Shooters Hill Local History Group‘s next meeting, to be held on Thursday, 16th March at Shrewsbury House starting at 8.00pm. Steve wrote to me with the details:

There is a Severndroog Castle film night on Thursday 16th March at Shrewsbury House at 8pm arranged by the Shooters Hill Local History Group.
Films of the campaign to save Severndroog will be shown by the Shooters Hill Camcorder Club and will include the TV Restoration programme; the visit by the mayors of Greenwich, Lewisham and Southwark: the opening of the building and an open day event.
A visitor fee applies, everyone welcome.

The story of Severndroog Castle is one of successful community activism, which started when the castle was under threat of being sold off to a private company for use as offices in 2002. The Severndroog Castle Alliance (later the Severndroog Castle Building Preservation Trust) was formed by residents living in the area with the aim of saving the building for community use. The castle was included in the BBC Restoration series in which viewers voted on which listed building should be given a Heritage Lottery Fund grant for remedial work in 2004. Although the castle only managed second place in the south-east section of the programme, ultimately it was Heritage Lottery funding that allowed its restoration, as well as funds from charities such as the Country Houses Foundation; The Pilgrim Trust and The Architectural Heritage Fund. Now the castle is run by volunteers who organise regular events and open the castle to the public on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays from 12:30-4:30pm. It’s worth a visit for the views alone.

Should be an interesting evening.

 

Severndroog Castle under wraps for its restoration
Severndroog Castle under wraps for its restoration
Severndroog Castle and rainbow from Westmount Road
Severndroog Castle and rainbow from Westmount Road

Woolwich Opera Works' Spanish Siesta

Woolwich Opera Works Spanish Siesta leaflet

 

Woolwich Opera Works (WOW) are holding a free concert of Spanish-themed music at All Saints Church in Herbert Road on Sunday, 26th February. Their website provides more detail:

Sunday, February 26, 2017, 4:00pm 5:30pm
WOW are excited to present 4 world class singers to celebrate our one year anniversary. The theme of the concert is Spain and it includes operatic highlights from well known operas in the first half featuring Carmen, Le nozze di Figaro, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Fidelio, Don Giovanni and Il Trovatore. After a short interval the programme continues with a lighter selection of gorgeous Spanish Songs and culminates in a beautiful arrangement of Rodrigo’s En Aranjuez con mi amor.
Sopranos Donna Bateman and Sally Silver are joined by tenor Dominic Natoli and baritone Ricardo Panela who are accompanied on the piano by Jeremy Silver.
Tea, coffee and cakes will be sold in the interval and there will be a retiring collection.

Tickets are not required for Sunday’s concert, but it is possible to reserve seats (until 3.50pm) through this website.

This is WOW’s second free concert at All Saints. Founders Sally and Jeremy Silver along with soprano Namrata Shah, bass-baritone Tony Baker and tenor Tony Stocks performed a programme of opera favourites before the church’s Candlelight Carols service in December. This highly enjoyable evening, even for those like me who usually avoid opera, included operatic greatest hits such as Puccini’s O mio babbino caro, Verdi’s Libiamo ne’ lieti calici and Bernstein’s Maria, and was very well received by the audience. I’m looking forward to Sunday’s concert.

 

Woolwich Opera Works Spanish Siesta leaflet

All Saints Church, Herbert Road
All Saints Church, Herbert Road

Council to close CatCuddles HQ?

Some of CatCuddles fostered kittens
Some of Catcuddles fostered kittens

Local cat-care charity Catcuddles has been ordered to cease fostering operations at its Greenwich hub in Howarth Road SE2 within 7 days by planning enforcement officers at the Royal Borough of Greenwich council.  This follows the unexpected rejection of their application to continue the mixed use of the property as both a dwelling and for fostering cats.

Catcuddles volunteers have started a campaign to reverse the decision, including a petition to Greenwich Council to “Allow the Continued Fostering of Abandoned and Unwanted Cats In SE2” and a crowd funder to raise the money needed to appeal to the planning inspectorate to reverse the decision. The campaign has started well, with over 3500 signatures on the petition and over £3000 raised in just a couple of days.

The large team of volunteers at Catcuddles have helped many cats and people in the local area. They take in and foster cats that need a home. For example: when their owners are being evicted or are emigrating and facing the prospect of euthanizing their cats; families whose children have developed allergies and asthma from their cats; people whose parents have died and left cats behind; those who have found stray cats or have even had them give birth in their gardens; and local vets who’ve had cats dumped on their premises. They also neuter hundreds of stray cats in the area to help to keep their explosive numbers down. The cats they take in are not all housed at Howarth Road; they have a network of fosterers around the area.

And of course they are best known for pairing hundreds of formerly unwanted cats with loving adoptive families.

The dedication of the volunteers in rescuing cats is quite inspirational. One recent rescue here on Shooters Hill was of a mother cat and her 5 kittens: the Shooters Hill Six. This was a five day rescue operation which saw volunteers staked out in freezing temperatures tending traps to capture the cat and kittens. Catching them was only half the story. The tiny kittens were riddled with  ticks which volunteers had to remove by hand. Also the kittens were feral because they had had no human contact, so, as with other feral cats, volunteers had to handle them every day to prepare them for adoption. Happily all but two of the six have now been adopted or reserved for adoption.

CatCuddles' Greenwich Hub in Howarth Road
Catcuddles’ Greenwich Hub in Howarth Road

The council planners’ reasons for refusing Catcuddles application are difficult to understand. They say that “retention of the property as a cat sanctuary creates excessive noise and odour”, but this just isn’t true. I’ve visited the Catcuddles’ Greenwich Hub myself and noticed no noise or odour. The council’s own environmental health officer has said that there was no problem with odour, and the daily care volunteers are meticulous in their hygiene. There have never been any complaints about noise, and captured cats are known to be quiet to make themselves less conspicuous. The planners also say that it “would result in the loss of the property as a dwelling house”, which is simply untrue as Catcuddles founder, Evina Koroni, lives in the house. The final reason is that it “has involved the creation of numerous structures in the rear garden which have a detrimental impact in terms of design, appearance and scale.” But the cat pens in the back garden are low key and unobtrusive, as the photographs on the charity’s web site show. From the outside the house is indistinguishable from all the other houses in the street.

There are some positive signs for Catcuddles. A group of volunteers had a very constructive meeting with one of their local counsellors, Council Leader Denise Hyland, who told them she would look into the application. The strong support on the petition and crowd funding initiatives are also encouraging. If you would like to help you can sign their petition, contribute to the appeal costs or send them your stories about adopting from or working with Catcuddles.

 

Some of CatCuddles fostered kittens
Some of Catcuddles fostered kittens

The future of Enderby House at the Shooters Hill Local History Group

Enderby Wharf development
Enderby Wharf development

Dr. Mary Mills of the Greenwich Industrial History Society will be talking about the future of Enderby House at the next meeting of the Shooters Hill Local History Group which will be this Thursday, 16th February. As usual it will start  at 8pm and it will be held in Shrewsbury House. Steve e-mailed the details:

The next meeting of the Shooters Hill Local History Group will be on Thursday 16 February at 8pm at Shrewsbury House.
The presentation by Mary Mills of the Greenwich Industrial History Society will be about the future of Enderby House on the Greenwich Peninsula.
Everyone welcome, a visitor fee applies.

Enderby House is a grade II listed building which has been neglected and fallen into disrepair over the years. It was built in about 1835 by the Enderby family who established a ropewalk and a factory for making sales on the Enderby Wharf site around the house.  In the 1850s a company called Glass, Elliot & Co took over the site and it was where they jointly made the first transatlantic telegraph cable as well as many other early telegraph cables. Later they were absorbed into the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company (Telcon) which manufactured a second transatlantic telegraph cable at Enderby’s Wharf. This was successfully laid by the SS Great Eastern. Submarine cables were made by a succession of companies at Enderby’s Wharf up until 1975.

The area has since been redeveloped and the river front is now crowded with blocks of flats, with more being built. It is also the proposed site of a controversial cruise liner terminal: there is concern about the air pollution created by docked liners which will have to generate their own electricity using their diesel-powered engines because no shore-based generating capacity is planned. Enderby House is still standing, sandwiched between blocks of flats and the cruise liner terminal, but its future is  not entirely clear. The developers say they “are proud to be refurbishing the building into a Gastro pub and cultural hub for Greenwich”, but a group of local people have formed the Enderby Group to “secure the future of Enderby House and the cable loading equipment on the Alcatel-Lucent jetty as a permanent centre for telling the story of the sub-sea cable industry on this site, its key role in world-wide communications”. They have their own ideas about what should happen to the house and its surroundings to ensure that the area’s historical importance to modern telecommunications is not lost.

Thursday’s speaker is the secretary of the Enderby Group, so it should be a fascinating talk covering the history of Enderby House, and much more.

 

Appendix 3 of the Enderby Group Pender Plaza Proposal: Barratt Model of Enderby House
Appendix 3 of the Enderby Group Pender Plaza Proposal: Barratt Model of Enderby House

 

February half term activities at Woodlands Farm

Goldfinch at Woodlands Farm
Goldfinch at Woodlands Farm

It’s half term next week, and as usual Woodlands Farm have laid on some interesting and educational activities for children. Hannah, the Education Officer, wrote with the details:

February Half Term Events
Wednesday 15th February. Print yourself a picture    1pm-3pm
Come along for our afternoon of printing.  Come up with your own pattern or design and then using special paint and rollers you can print this picture onto paper to take home with you.  £3 per child.  Just drop in to make your own print.
Thursday 16th February Woodlands Farm Trail – Then and now    10am – 1pm
The Woodlands Farm Trust is 20 years old!  This trail is the first in a series of events celebrating the history of the farm.  Can you follow our photo trail and recognise the different places on the farm and how they have changed in the last 20 years.  £2 per child.
Friday 17th February Get Wild in the Woods 11am – 1pm and 2pm-4pm
Come and join us in the woods as we learn how to survive in the wild. Have a go at shelter building, wild cooking over a fire and learn what animals need to survive. £4 per child
Age 7+  Booking essential, to book call 020 8319 8900

For more information, see our website or contact Hannah Ricketts on education@thewoodlandsfarmtrust.org

It’s the farm’s 20th anniversary this year – 20 years since it was established as a charitable trust with the aim of “promoting conservation, sustainable farming and education for the benefit of the community” – following People Against the River Crossing‘s successful campaign to prevent a motorway being built through  the farm and Oxleas Wood. Every time I visit makes me more aware of what a loss that would have been.

Curious sheep at Woodlands Farm
Curious sheep at Woodlands Farm
Goldfinch at Woodlands Farm
Goldfinch at Woodlands Farm