Friends of Oxleas Woodlands Bat Walk

Friends of Oxleas Woodlands Bat walk poster

The recently formed Friends of Oxleas Woodlands are holding a bat walk next Friday, 27th April starting at 8.00pm at the Crookston Road entrance to the woodlands.  The walk is free, but places are limited and booking is necessary. Their poster gives the details:

Oxleas Woodlands Bat Walk.
Friday 27thApril at 8pm
Come along and meet our local Bat population.
Use bat detectors to hear the bats in action as they hunt for insects, and try to identify which species of Bat there are in the woods. Bat detectors will be provided. But dress warmly for the evening and wear footwear suitable for walking in the woods. You may want to bring a torch too!
Numbers will be limited to 40, including children. So BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL.
Email the Friends’ Secretary, Sue Reeve at suereeve@virginmedia.com to book your place.
We will need to know your name and how many you are booking for; (Max 2 adults and three children per booking, but please contact us if you need to vary this or wish to book for friends too.) We will also need a telephone number to contact you in case there is a need to cancel due to bad weather. (Bat’s don’t like it when it’s raining!).
Meet at the Crookston Road entrance to the woods at 7.55pm.
We are planning another bat walk later in the year.

Serotine bat at the BCT's Halloween is For Bats event at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park
Serotine bat at the BCT’s Halloween is For Bats event at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park

This is the Friends’ first event since their inaugural general meeting on 7th March, but they plan to hold  other events such as history walks and  wildlife and plant surveys. They have also held a number of litter picking sessions; the next one is on Saturday 21st April meeting at the café at 10am, or at the traffic lights at the Welling Way/Rochester Way Junction at about 10.15.

The bats should be out of hibernation now, feeling very hungry after the long winter, and trying to make up ground on their feeding schedule which will have been delayed by the poor weather. Usually the females will form maternity colonies in May before giving birth to a single pup during June.

Recent bat walks in the area, such as those at Shrewsbury Park and Woodlands Farm have also spotted hedgehogs as they looked for bats, so if you get a place on the walk keep a look out.

The Friends plan to hold another bat walk later in the year, so if you don’t get a place on this one there will be a further opportunity later on.

Pipistrelle bat at the BCT's Halloween is For Bats event at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park
Pipistrelle bat at the BCT’s Halloween is For Bats event at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park
Serotine bat at the BCT's Halloween is For Bats event at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park
Serotine bat at the BCT’s Halloween is For Bats event at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park

Bat Walks at Woodlands Farm and Shrewsbury Park

Shrewsbury Park bat walk poster Sept 2017

This weekend has seen the annual celebration of bats that is International Bat Weekend, so it is fitting that we have two bat walks in Shooters Hill this week: one at Woodlands Farm on Thursday,  31st August and then at Shrewsbury Park on Friday, 1st September.

Details of the Woodlands Farm Bat Walk are on their web site:

Thu 31st Aug 19:30 – 21:00 Join us for a bat walk around the farm. Woodlands Farm has a number of different species of bats, using bat detectors we will try to find some. The walk will start at 7.45pm. Please bring a torch and wear sturdy shoes. £6 adults, £4 per child. Booking is essential, to book call 020 8319 8900.

The Friends of Shrewsbury Park are holding their second bat walk of the year on Friday. Kris Inglis wrote with the details:

Friday 1 September 8.00 pm Shrewsbury Park
• 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’s raining, neither the bats nor us will be coming out!
Meet in the car park for an introduction from bat-wise FSP members who will lead this adventure through the Park at sunset using our eyes, ears and bat detectors!

It’s been a good year for bats in my experience. The National Bat Monitoring Programme field surveys in July went well. At Woodlands Farm volunteers detected a good number of pipistrelles, and also overflying noctules. We even detected pipistrelles in our Canning Town survey area which in previous years has had none, or perhaps a single pipistrelle detected at Canning Town Recreation Ground. It doesn’t help that the area has the noisy and polluting A13 running through it. There were also quite a few pipistrelles in the May Shrewsbury Park bat walk. As a bonus hedgehogs were seen at both the farm and Shrewsbury Park.

One of my batty highlights of this summer was a bat walk at South Mere in Thamesmead led by Karen Sutton the Biodiversity Team Manager at Thames Water. There are lots, and I mean lots of insects flying over and around the lake, and these attract a large number of bats: noctules and the larger bats and possibly Daubenton’s bats over the water and common and soprano pipistrelles in the lakeside trees. It was a spectacular display of agile bats flying close to us spectators, and so many that it was difficult to distinguish their calls on our bat detectors to decide exactly which bat species were present.

The highlight this year  so far though was our waterway survey along the River Cray near Hall Place. For the first time since the Waterway Survey has been carried out here there were definite detections and sightings of Daubenton’s bats feeding over the river. They flit about very close to the water surface capturing their insect prey using their large feet or tail membranes. I recorded some of the echolocation calls using my new toy, a Peersonic bat recorder: the result is shown in the trace below which was analysed using the Audacity free audio editing software. I can foresee hours of fun analysing the details of bat calls!

Recording and spectrogram of Daubenton's bat in Audacity
Recording and spectrogram of Daubenton’s bat in Audacity

 

Hibernating Daubenton's Bat
Hibernating Daubenton’s Bat

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

 

 

 

Bat Walks at Woodlands Farm and Shrewsbury Park

Brown Long Eared bat from Jenny Clark’s education team at Batfest 2015
Brown long-eared bat at Bat Fest

Next weekend, 27/28 August, is International Bat Weekend, which is marked by batty events across the world. Locally both Woodlands Farm and the Friends of Shrewsbury Park are holding bat walks in the coming weeks, and London’s Bat Fest is being held over the weekend at Woodberry Wetlands in Hackney.

There seem to be plenty of bats around this year. The NBMP field survey at Woodlands Farm in July detected quite a few pipistrelles and some noctules. Pipistrelles have also been detected at the Wide Horizons Constitution Rise woodland, Manor House Gardens, Hall Place and Hervey Road sports field. Even normally sterile Canning Town had more than its usual solitary pip in this year’s NBMP survey. However the waterways survey along the River Cray at Hall Place once again found no Daubenton’s bats.

Woodlands Farm BatWalks 2016

Woodlands Farm’s bat walks will be held on Wednesday 24th August and Thursday 1st September. Maureen from the farm wrote with details:

Join us for our annual bat walks. Starting with a brief introduction to bats we will then go on a walk round the farm trying to see and hear bats using bat detectors. You will need sturdy footwear, suitable outdoor clothing and a torch. Children must be accompanied by an adult (not recommended for children under 6 years). £6 per adult, £4 per child (under 16 years). To book go to http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/the-woodlands-farm-trust-8448478250

The Friends of Shrewsbury Park bat walk is on Friday 2nd September at 8.00pm. Kris sent me details:

Meet in the car park for an introduction from bat-wise FSP members who will lead this adventure through the Park using our eyes, ears and bat detectors!
The walk is free to members and £2 for non-members (but you can join on the night). Please wear appropriate shoes and clothing for the weather and paths. Children must be accompanied by an adult. And dogs must be kept on a lead.
The walk lasts about 1 1/2 hours and a torch is useful.
The car park may still be open but not at the end of the walk so remember to leave cars outside of the Park. If you have any mobility queries please contact us on fspdog@hotmail.com and we will help you participate.
If it rains neither the bats nor us will be coming out!

Let’s hope it stays dry for all the bat walks!

Shrewsbury Park Bat walk poster 2016

Shrewsbury Park Bat Walk

Friends of Shrewsbury Park‘s bat walk poster

September is the start of the breeding season for bats and also when they  start to build up their fat stores for the winter hibernation, so hopefully there will be plenty of them around for the Shrewsbury Park bat walk on Friday. Kathy from the Friends of Shrewsbury Park e-mailed the poster and details of the walk:

Please find poster attached giving details of the Bat Walk on 11 September, starting at 7.45pm in the car park.
It is free to you as you are a member of the Friends of Shrewsbury Park. You will see that we have decided to charge non-members for the walk. If non-members join the Friends, then the walk will be free to them. By charging non-members, we will increase the funding towards our drinking fountain. If they join, then we will increase our membership.
We will have to spend a few minutes at the beginning of the walk checking membership.
Just a reminder, if it is raining, the bats will not be out, nor will we.
Fingers crossed for a dry evening.

This is the last local bat walk for this year as far as I know. Lots of bats have been detected and sighted on all the others, let’s hope Friday maintains the record.

Brown Long Eared bat from Jenny Clark's education team at Batfest 2015
Brown Long Eared bat from Jenny Clark’s education team at Batfest 2015
Serotine bat from Jenny Clark's education team at Batfest 2015
Serotine bat from Jenny Clark’s education team at Batfest 2015

Woodlands Farm Bat Walks

Bat Walks at Woodlands Farm 2015

Bats are getting more and more popular, and there are lots of opportunities to see and hear native bats. The next local bat walks are hosted by Woodlands Farm. Hannah, their Education Officer wrote with details:

Thursday 20th August   8pm,   Thursday 27th August   7.45pm,  Thursday 3rd September   7.30pm

Join us for a bat walk around Woodlands Farm. We have a number of different bat species living on the farm so this is a great opportunity to find out more about bats and see what we can find. You will need sturdy footwear, suitable outdoor clothing and a torch. This activity is not recommended for children under 6. £5 per adult and £3 per child. Booking is essential. To book call 020 8319 8900.

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

A good number of bats were detected at the farm as part of the Bat Conservation Trust’s National Bat Monitoring Programme in July, both common and soprano pipistrelles and some very clear noctules. Let’s hope they all show themselves in the bat walks, but even if they don’t there’s something magical about walking the farm’s woods and meadows in the half light.

Not too far away from Shooters Hill, there are also bat walks coming up at Hall Place on Tuesday 25th August and Thursday 27th August in their beautiful gardens along the river Cray, and on 11th September Thames Water Crossness have a bat walk around the nature reserve north of Eastern Way. Their walk along Southmere Lake last week was one of the best I’ve been on for visibility and variety of bats, despite the persistent rain.  Quite a few noctules and serotines were seen swooping over the water, and pipistrelles darting just overhead around the lakeside trees. They don’t expect the walk in the nature reserve to be quite as spectacular.

Also on 11th September the Friends of Shrewsbury Park will be holding their second bat walk of the season. The perfect place for a lark in the park in the dark, hopefully enlivened by the heterodyned sound of echo-locating bats and the sight of them flitting just above head height.

Finally for bat fans there is annual Bat Fest at the Natural History Museum on 29th and 30th August, starring the marvellous Jenny Clark MBE and her education bats. Here is a video of Jenny at her bat hospital talking about bats in her own inimitable style.

Shrewsbury Park Bat Walk

May 15 bat walk poster

The Friends of Shrewsbury Park‘s bat walks have become so popular that this year they will be holding two. The first will be held next Friday, 15th May, and the second later in the year on 11th September. An e-mail from the Friends gave the details:

Hang out with the bats
Shrewsbury Park 15th May 2015
Meet in the car park off Plum Lane at 8.00pm for an introduction from bat-wise FSP members who will lead this adventure through the park at sunset using our eyes, ears and bat detectors!
– Wear sturdy shoes and appropriate clothing
– Children must be accompanied by an adult
– Walk lasts about 1 ½ hours and torches are helpful
– Dogs must be kept on a lead
– If you have mobility issues, please contact us on fspdog@hotmail.com and we will help you to participate.  The trail is a mixture of paved path, gravel and grass.
If it rains, neither the bats nor us will be coming out!!

The Friends will be borrowing bat detectors for the evening from the local parks forum,  the Bat Conservation Trust and London Bat Group.

Biggles the giant Pipistrelle at Bat Fest at the Natural History Museum
Biggles the giant Pipistrelle at Bat Fest at the Natural History Museum

If you’re interested in bats then there will be lots of other chances to see them during the summer months. You can get really close to bats at the annual Bat Fest held at the Natural History Museum. This year it will be held over the August Bank Holiday weekend, 29th and 30th August from 12-5pm. One of the many highlights is Jenny Clark and her education bats, as the BCT website says:

Sussex Bat Hospital –  One of our most popular attractions!
Learn about the work of Jenny the bat carer a.k.a. ‘BatLady’ who will bring her bat lodgers in for the day. These bats have been previously injured but sadly cannot be released into the wild. However, they live a comfortable life with Jenny who caters to all of their batty needs.

Jenny, who was awarded the MBE in the 2015 New Years Honours List for her services to bat conservation, brings along examples of most of the UK bat species and shows them off to visitors.

There will also be a number of other bat walks in the local area during the coming months. Woodlands Farm and Hall Place haven’t published the dates for their bat walks yet, but Crossness Nature Reserve have. The Bexley Wildlife blog has the details:

Fri 14th Aug, 20:15 – 22:30
BAT WALK– A walk round Southmere Lake and Crossness Southern Marsh, south of Eastern Way, identifying bat species with the use of bat detectors. Daubenton’s bats will be putting on a show over the lake, and Pipistrelle bats – and hopefully other species – will be hunting over the marshes. Feel free to bring children along. Bring a torch if you have one and you might want to wear some insect repellent. Sorry, there are no refreshments provided for this event
PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT THIS DATE MAY NEED TO BE CHANGED. PLEASE BOOK ON IF INTERESTED IN ATTENDING AND I WILL UPDATE YOU IF THERE IS A DATE CHANGE – THANK YOU
Meet 20:15 at the Southmere Lake/ Lakeside Complex car park off Belvedere Road (SE2 9AQ)

Fri 11th Sept, 19:00 – 21:00
BAT WALK– A nocturnal walk around the nature reserve north of Eastern Way after sunset, identifying bat species with the use of bat detectors. Hopefully we’ll see some other nocturnal species too. Bring a torch if you have one, and you might wish to wear some insect repellent.

Book for these by contacting Karen Sutton, the Biodiversity Team Manager at Thames Water Crossness Nature Reserve by phone on 07747 643958 or Email: Karen.sutton@thameswater.co.uk.

If you can’t wait to see some bats here is a video of a pipistrelle bat in the hand. Remember though, if you do find a bat you shouldn’t handle it, but follow the BCT guidelines for containing it and contact the Bat Helpline on 0345 1300 228 or email enquiries@bats.org.uk.

Flora and Fauna

 

Hawksbeard at Woodlands Farm
Hawksbeard at Woodlands Farm

One of the highlights of 2014 for me was the opportunity to be involved in a number of citizen science surveys of the flora and fauna of the area. It was a real pleasure to be able to spend time with enthusiastic and sometimes very knowledgeable people identifying wild plants and animals in places such as Woodlands Farm‘s meadows and ponds or in an old ragstone mine in Westerham.

Many of the surveys were those arranged by Hannah Forshaw, the Education Officer at the farm, but there was also a lot more bat surveying, contributing data to the surveys organised by the Bat Conservation Trust and the London Bat Group.

The first surveys were in May: the Newt and Pond Life surveys at the farm. Armed with books, identification guides, nets and trays volunteers dipped the pond water and pored over what was dragged up – a good collection of larvae and nymphs and even the occasional tadpole and newt. Wellies were donned to get in the pond and examine the leaves of pond plants for newt eggs – the newts carefully wrap each egg in a leaf. Later, when it was dark the water was examined with torches to count the newts lying on the bottom.

All the data collected in the surveys is submitted to GIGL (Greenspace Information for Greater London), formerly the London Biological Recording Project, who “collate, manage and make available detailed information on London’s wildlife, parks, nature reserves, gardens and other open spaces.”

Pond Dipping at Woodlands Farm– Damsel Fly Larva and Phantom Midge Larvae
Damsel Fly Larva and Phantom Midge Larvae

The surveys at the farm continued in June with the first of the Meadow Plants surveys. The farm is accredited to DEFRA’s Higher Level Stewardship scheme, which amongst other things defines how they manage their meadows and hedgerows with the aim of supporting biodiversity. One consequence is that the meadows are rich in wild flowers and grasses, which is why a glorious sunny day in June saw groups of enthusiastic volunteers grouped around various books trying to identify the meadow plants. Umbellifers were particularly interesting: did we have a corky fruited water dropwort or a wild carrot or a fools parsley? Close examination and detailed discussion were necessary. The plants’ names seemed rooted in another time: mouse ear, sheeps sorrel, goats beard, tansy, lesser trefoil, common vetch, grass vetchling ….

June also saw those volunteers measuring the girth and estimating the height and health of some of the farm’s trees for the Opal Tree Health Survey, followed in July by shaking some of the farm’s hedges to see what dropped out for the Opal Biodiversity Hedgerow Survey.

Ragwort
Ragwort
Teasel
Teasel
Goats beard
Goats beard

When it comes to citizen science surveys, the Bat Conservation Trust’s National Bat Monitoring Programme (NBMP)  is one of the longest running, having started in  1996. The Field Survey, which monitors populations of noctule, serotine, common pipistrelle and soprano pipistrelle takes place in July. Volunteers are allocated one or more “random” 1km square to survey. They start by drawing a triangular transect on the map of the square, and then plot a route that follows the triangle as closely as possible with 12 equally spaced stopping points. On the evenings of the survey the volunteer walks the route using a heterodyne bat detector to listen for noctules and serotines on the walk between the stopping points and then stops for two minutes to survey for pipistrelles.

My square for the last four years has been centred on grid reference TQ4081 – an area of Canning Town to the north of Custom House DLR station. It’s not an encouraging area for any wild life – mainly built up and crossed by the noisy, polluting A13. I only ever detect bats in one place – Canning Town Rec – and usually only get one pass on the detector during the two minutes monitoring. This year there was nothing at all at the start of July, but my lonely pipistrelle was back at the end of the month.

The Woodlands Farm field surveys were far more successful, detecting many more bats – both common and soprano pipistrelles and noctules. Plus there was the added bonus of coming across two hedgehogs this year.

The BCT run fairly regular courses for volunteers on how to use a bat detector to recognise different types of bat calls, and I went on a refresher during this year’s survey season. While there I volunteered to help with the August Waterway Survey – looking for Daubenton’s bats. I took on a 1km section of the River Cray starting at Hall Place. Daubenton’s bats’ calls sound a bit like marbles dropping onto a tiled floor on the heterodyne bat detector, but the bats must also be visually verified as their calls are similar to Natterer’s bats. We had a couple of possible detections, but no visual confirmation so had to report unidentified Daubenton’s/Natterer’s.

There are however lots of pipistrelles at Hall Place, as I found out when helping to lead a bat walk around the gardens. It was quite magical walking just after dusk in the riverside gardens of an old Tudor house watching pipistrelles swoop between the trees, often just above head height. During September there were also well-attended bat walks in Shrewsbury Park and at Woodlands Farm, with a good number of bats seen and detected. Bats are becoming popular.

The River Cray at Hall Place
The River Cray at Hall Place

In December I had a rare opportunity, courtesy of the London Bat Group, to help with a hibernation survey at Westerham Mines. The sealed-off  former building stone mines, also known as Hosey Caves, are a Site of Special Scientific Interest and are managed as a bat reserve by the Kent Wildlife Trust. They have been  regularly surveyed by members of the Kent Bat Group for many years. It’s a mucky job because some tunnels are only accessible by crawling through narrow gaps, and it’s often necessary for bat surveyors to lie on their backs to examine crevices in the roofs and walls for hibernating bats. Five species of bat are known to hibernate in the caves. The survey team in December counted a total of 54 bats – mainly Daubenton’s but also Natterer’s and some that were either whiskered or Brandt’s bats. And one Brown long-eared bat and some hibernating herald moths. I am in awe of the bat recognition skills of the experienced surveyors – the bats are often hidden in crevices and little is visible.

It is important when surveying hibernating bats that they are not disturbed, and that any temperature rise caused by the presence of people is minimised. If the bats wake they will use their scarce energy reserves and have no way of replenishing them because their insect food is not available. So the photo of a hibernating Daubenton’s bat below was taken without flash by torchlight without getting too close to the bat.

Hibernating Daubenton's Bat
Hibernating Daubenton’s Bat

How are bats doing? A composite measure of bat numbers based on data for 8 species shows an 18% increase from 1999 to 2007, but a very slight decrease since 2007. However this must be set against a 60% decline in numbers between 1977 and 1999 in England. Also bats’ legal protection is threatened. A Conservative MP’s private members bill, the Bat Habitats Regulation Bill, currently going through parliament aims to reduce the protection given to bats roosting in places of worship – a move that could prove disastrous for bat populations. The wording of the bill seems very short and vague to me:

“Notwithstanding the European Communities Act 1972, the provisions of the Habitats Regulations and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 shall not apply to bats or bat roosts located inside a building used for public worship unless it has been established that the presence of such bats or bat roosts has no significant adverse impact upon the users of the building.”

A “building used for public worship” is a very vague and potentially all-encompassing phrase, and how could one demonstrate that the presence of bats has “no significant adverse impact”? What does adverse mean in this phrase? While bats’ presence in churches has caused some problems there are many bat friendly ways of tackling the issue which have been ignored by proponents of the bill. Needless to say the Bat Conservation Trust are campaigning against the bill: if you want to help there’s a draft letter to send to your MP on the BCT web site.

Comma butterfly
Comma butterfly

Back at Woodlands Farm, surveys continued in a lepidopterous vein with the Big Butterfly Count in June and a moth survey in September. The butterfly count was another sunny summer day in the farm’s wild flower meadows. Amongst those spotted were lots of comma, meadow brown and gatekeeper butterflies: Hannah has put a full list on the farm’s Wildlife and Conservation web page.

A moth trap, which is basically a bright light mounted above a container that was filled with egg boxes, was used to trap moths alive for the moth survey. Some of the moths captured were remarkably and unexpectedly beautiful, such as the burnished brass pictured below. They also had some amazing names: heart and dart, lunar underwing, setaceous hebrew character and pale oak beauty were some of the moths identified. After identification they had to be released carefully to make sure they didn’t immediately become bird food.

Burnished Brass Moth
Burnished Brass Moth

Mammals were the focus of surveys at the farm in the autumn. Hannah hired a mammal night camera from the Mammal Society, but the results were a little disappointing – a rat, a cat, foxes and squirrels were photographed – the best pictures have been put on the Mammal Society’s web site. The hedgehog tunnel had some prints in it, but unfortunately not hedgehog. Then my first experience of checking the Longworth traps yielded only slugs – prompting the acquisition of a slug identification book for future trap checking. Slugs are surprisingly interesting!

Things picked up with later Longworth trap sessions. On each session 16 traps were baited with seeds and, most importantly, fly pupae from an angling shop which make a smelly attractive food. They were also stuffed with some straw to keep any tiny mammals warm, then placed at various places around the farm in the late afternoon. Early the next morning they were checked: it needed to be early to ensure that little creatures with high metabolic rates didn’t run out of energy. Apart from slugs we found a lot of wood mice, which were sexed before release (a male is shown in the photograph below). A field vole and a possible bank vole were also trapped.

Longworth trap in position
Longworth trap in position
 Sexing a Wood Mouse

Sexing a Wood Mouse

The conservation volunteers at the farm also helped with preparing the dipping pond for refurbishment – clearing nettles and plants from the edges, digging out water-plants and mud and carefully removing any pond life that could be saved. This year they are doing further work on the pond, clearing brambles in Clothworkers Wood to encourage bluebells and then the 2015 survey season starts with the Big Farmland Bird Count on Monday 9th and Tuesday 10th February.

If you want to help out with the farm’s surveys of our local flora and fauna then contact Hannah Forshaw on education@thewoodlandsfarmtrust.org, and you can volunteer to help with bat surveys on the Bat Conservation Trust web site.

Shrewsbury Park 2014 Programme

 

Shrewsbury Park near Rowton Road
Shrewsbury Park

 

The Friends of Shrewsbury Park have been very busy recently. Not only have they revamped their web site and joined twitter (@Friendsspark) but also they have organised a programme of events for the rest of the year. Plus they are holding a photography competition, with the winning pictures to go in their 2015 calendar.

It all starts on Saturday when the Friends are meeting to tidy up the old allotment area on Dot Hill. Their e-mail gave the details:

Will you be able to help us cut down the brambles in the old allotment this Saturday, 26 April,  from 12 noon – 1pm?
If you can spare the hour, please bring secateurs and stout gloves, those brambles are mean!
We will meet at the junction of the Green Chain walk with Dothill. If you are coming via the car park, just walk down the path to the bottom.

The Friends programme for 2014 includes some old favourites: the superb Summer Festival is on the 19th July, the same weekend as the Eaglesfield Park Neighbourhood Watch Scheme‘s seventh annual Community Fete. I hear that the Festival will again include the excellent Dog Show, one of the highlights of previous festivals. The popular bat walk will be in September this year, on Friday 5th. The Friends are also holding a “Tree event” for 20 children and their parents on  Monday 26 May at 11am. They will lead the children in the woods, help them to make clay faces and journey sticks. You will need to book for this event – more information will be put on the Friends web site soon. Here is this year’s full programme:

Saturday 26 April, 12 noon – 1pm:  Park tidy at old allotments
Monday 26 May, 11am:  Children’s Tree Event
Tuesday 3 June, 10.30am:   Bird walk
Saturday 19 July, 1 – 4pm:    Summer Festival
Sunday 10 Aug, 12 noon – 1pm:  Clean up day
Friday 5 September, 7.15pm:   Bat walk.

 Kris e-mailed details of the photography competition:

We invite you to capture images of the Park over the next few months. They can be dramatic, seasonal, humorous, exciting, tranquil, close ups or panoramic– with or without people and wildlife, colour or black and white.
The twelve most interesting photos will be chosen to be included in our 2015 calendar.
Please send your photos to fspdog@hotmail.com with ‘photo comp’ as the subject. It would be very helpful if you also produce a suitable print if possible. Please include your name and a caption, and how best to be in touch with you.
Judging will be done at  our Summer Festival on 19 July by all who attend.
We hope to organise an exhibition in Shrewsbury House in the autumn for all entries and also display a gallery on the website fspark.org.uk
Be creative and have fun!

Must take my camera for a walk in the park again!

Agility competition at Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival
Agility competition at Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival