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  • hilly 3:46 pm on October 5, 2017
    Tags: conservation, , ,   

    October at Woodlands Farm: sloe gin, Apple Day, half-term activities and ecological surveys 

    Hedgerow liqueurs 2017 poster

    There’s lots going on at Woodlands Farm during October: a Hedgerow Liqueurs course on Sunday, the annual Apple Day fête, half-term activities for children and the regular range of ecological surveys.

    Hannah, the Education Officer at the farm, wrote with details of the Hedgerow Liqueurs course:

    HEDGEROW LIQUEURS
    Sunday 8th October 2017     12.00—4.30pm
    Price £12 (£8 members)  18+ years only
    Sloes are scarce, so we will be using a mixture of fresh picked fruit and frozen fruit, to make together our delicious sloe gin this year, in good time for Christmas
    Bring your own gin or spirit of choice together with at least a one litre, wide neck (>2.5cm) container. Kilner type jars, 1.5 litre, will be available at cost price. Sugar and sloes will be provided by Woodlands Farm.
    Book early via the Farm Office, numbers limited

     

    Sloe berries at Woodlands Farm

    Sloe berries at Woodlands Farm

    Apple Day Poster 2017 colour A4

    This is followed by the annual Apple Day fair on the following Sunday:

    Join us for a celebration of traditional British apples on Sunday 15th October 2017, from 11am-4pm. Discover and buy many different types of traditional British apples. There will be a variety of activities including a treasure hunt, apple pressing to make delicious juice, stalls selling local produce, including our own honey and home-made jams, cakes and try some Kentish Cider. A great day out for all the family. Entry is free, but donations are welcome and go towards the running of the Farm. No parking on site. Please use public transport.

    Archy, the farm’s new Manx Loaghtan ram, should be out in the field with the ewes by then: he’s getting a bit frustrated in his current home in the barn. The farm will also be getting some longhorn cattle soon as they start to focus more on rare breed animals.

    Archy, the farm's new Manx Loaghtan ram

    Archy, the farm’s new Manx Loaghtan ram

    At the end of the month it’s half term week, and as usual the Farm have laid on some interesting and educational activities for children. Again Hannah wrote with the details:

    October Half Term Events
    Wednesday 25th October   Farm Rhymes and Riddles 1pm-3pm £2 per child
    Test your skills at solving rhymes and riddles as you try our trail. Can you figure out what animal each riddle is about, while exploring the farm. Work them all out and get a prize! There will also be a chance to meet some of our animals. No need to book just drop in.
    Thursday 26th October   Leaf Lanterns 10am – 12noon and 1pm-3pm £4 per child
    Join us for an autumn walk round the farm to find out about different types of trees and leaves. We will be collecting what we find to then use to make and decorate a leaf lantern to take home. Booking is essential, to book call 020 8319 8900.
    Friday 27th October     Halloween Trail and crafts 11am-3pm £3 per child.
    Halloween is just round the corner so join us for a day of spooky crafts. There will be a creepy animal facts trail round the farm where you can find out all the gruesome and scary things about British wildlife. Come dressed up to get in the full spooky spirit. No need to book, just drop in.

     

    Some of the farm's awards this year

    Some of the farm’s awards this year

     

    The farm’s regular schedule of ecological surveys continues through the month. Previous months have seen surveys of pond life, bees, moths, bats and wild flower meadow plants (lots of magical missile-repelling Corky Fruited Water Dropworts), and the first mammal surveys. The mammal surveys continue this month and there is the last of the monthly bee walks of 2017. The currently planned survey activities for October are:

    Wednesday 11th October 3.30pm – Mammal survey setting up traps
    Thursday 12th October, 9am – Mammal survey collect traps
    Tuesday 17th October, 3.30pm – Mammal survey setting up traps
    Wednesday 18th October 9am – Mammal survey, collect traps
    Wednesday 18th October, 2pm – Bee walk – last of the year
    Monday 30th October, 10am – Dipping pond maintenance. Wellies or waders recommended!

    If you’d like to help with the wildlife surveys contact Hannah Ricketts on education@thewoodlandsfarmtrust.org

    Sexing a Wood Mouse


    Sexing a Wood Mouse

    Common Carder Bee at Woodlands Farm

    Common Carder Bee at Woodlands Farm

     
  • hilly 10:44 am on August 28, 2017
    Tags: , conservation, , ,   

    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

     
  • hilly 3:57 pm on June 4, 2017
    Tags: conservation, , ,   

    Woodlands Farm Summer Show and Mid Summer Hay Meadow Walk 

    Woodlands Farm Summer Show 2017 poster

    Woodlands Farm‘s annual Summer Show is next Sunday, 11th June, between 11.00am and 4.30pm, and entry is free. Maureen from the farm wrote with details:

    The Woodlands Farm Trust Summer Show is on Sunday 11th June from 11:00am-4:30 pm.
    All are welcome at the Woodlands Farm Trust Summer Show. Come and meet our animals and enjoy the chance to buy quality local produce at reasonable prices, including home-made preserves, cakes and honey.  Relax in our café to live music by The Short ‘n Curlies, get involved in craft activities and games, and enjoy displays of country crafts.  Entry is free, donations are always welcome. All proceeds go towards keeping Woodlands Farm here as a conservation project and valuable resource for the community. There is no parking on the farm, please use public transport.
    The Woodlands Farm‘s Summer Show is combined with Open Farm Sunday again this year, so it will include farming related demonstrations such as sheep shearing and rural crafts.

    Open Farm Sunday is the farming industry’s annual open day, and hundreds of farms across the country will be open to the public. Open farms are listed on  Open Farm Sunday‘s website. The event is organised by the LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) charity.

    The farm is a registered charity and relies on events such as the Summer Show to raise funds to continue to operate. It’s their 20th anniversary this year, the farm trust was founded in 1997, so a good time to show your support.

    Bantam at Woodlands Farm

    Bantam at Woodlands Farm

    Bantam at Woodlands Farm

    Bantam at Woodlands Farm

    A couple of weeks after the Summer Show the farm host the latest of their regular series of guided walks, the Mid-Summer Hay Meadow Walk. Hannah sent details:

    Mid Summer Hay Meadow Walk
    Sunday 25th June, 10am
    Join us for a leisurely stroll through our Hay Meadows. In June the meadows are full of wild flowers and an array of different types of grasses. Find out how we manage these hay meadows throughout the year and about some of the lovely plants you will find there. The walk will start at 10am, meeting at the Green Building in the Farm yard. This event is free, although as a charity we do appreciate donations. Unfortunately, this walk is not suitable for buggies or wheelchairs.
    For more information, see our website or email admin@thewoodlandsfarmtrust.org

    The Farm manages the grass in their fields either by grazing with their cows and sheep or by cutting hay with tractors and mowers in mid-summer and they don’t use any fertilizers or herbicides on the farm.  This type of management enables the wild flowers and grasses to produce their seed ready to grow again next year, resulting in a large diversity of flowers, grasses and sedges in the fields and meadows, which in turn supports many species of insects. The Farm is part of  Natural England’s Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) scheme which  encourages farmers to manage their land sensitively, to benefit wildlife and the local environment. This walk is a good chance to learn more about the meadows and how they are managed, and enjoy some beautiful countryside.

    Woodlands Farm Meadow

    Woodlands Farm Meadow

    Woodlands Farm Wild Flower Meadow

    Woodlands Farm Wild Flower Meadow

     
  • hilly 8:05 pm on May 13, 2017
    Tags: conservation, ,   

    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 http://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

     
  • hilly 3:18 pm on March 29, 2017
    Tags: conservation, ,   

    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

     
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