National Meadows Day at Woodlands Farm

National Meadows Day at Woodlands Farm

There’s another chance to take a guided tour of Woodlands Farm‘s hay meadows this Saturday, 2nd July, when the farm are taking part in National Meadows Day. Maureen from the farm wrote with details:

As part of National Meadows Day there will be a guided tour of the stunning hay meadows at Woodlands Farm. The farm has almost 30 acres of traditionally managed hay meadows bursting with wild flowers, bees, butterflies, dragonflies and other wildlife at this time of year.
The meadows are managed as part of Natural England’s Higher Level Stewardship Scheme.
The walk will be for about 2 hours on Saturday 2nd July 2016 and will start in the farmyard at Woodlands Farm at 1.30pm. If you like meadows and flowers this is the walk for you.

This is the second year that National Meadows Day has taken place: it is planned  to hold it each year on the first Saturday in July, when the country’s wildflower meadows are at their best. It is organised by a number of organisations led by Plantlife, a wild plant conservation charity. There are about 100 events taking place across the UK including guided walks, open days with family activities, kids craft days, scything activities and photography walks. They are also holding a National Meadows Photography Competition with a deadline for entries of 31st August 2016.

Ragwort at Woodlands Farm
Ragwort at Woodlands Farm
Teasel at Woodlands Farm
Teasel at Woodlands Farm

Mid-summer hay meadow walk at Woodlands Farm

Midsummer hay meadow walk poster

The traditional hay meadows, with their many and varied wild flowers, are one of the wonders of Woodlands Farm and there’s an opportunity to see them at their best on Sunday (19th June) when the farm hold the latest of their monthly walks. Maureen from the farm wrote with details of the mid-summer hay meadow walk which starts at 10.00am:

Join us at Woodlands Farm for a two-hour leisurely stroll around our traditional hay meadows. The meadows are at their best at this time of the year, bursting with wild flowers, bees, butterflies and all manner of wildlife. The walk will be led by a Woodlands Farm volunteer pointing out many of the interesting plants and animals in these traditionally managed hay fields. The walk includes climbing a small stile and is not suitable for buggies. Meet in the green Education Building at 10am.
So pull on those boots and come along with us on this unmissable walk.
Free activity – donations welcome!

For an even closer view of the meadows join the farm’s enthusiastic conservation volunteers on Thursday 30th June at 2 o’clock for the meadow plant survey, when you’ll find them in the meadows surrounded by plant guides examining the wild flowers and grasses. This is one of a series of surveys in the next couple of months, Hannah recently sent round the full  list:

Wednesday 15th June, 3pm –  Survey of the wildlife pond
Wednesday 22nd June, 2.30pm – Bumblebee Walk
Thursday 30th June, 2pm – Meadow plants survey
Friday 1st July, time to be confirmed – Bat survey
Monday 18th July, time to be confirmed – Bat Survey
Wednesday 20th July, 10.30am – Butterfly survey
Wednesday 27th July, 2pm – Bumblebee walk

The weather forecast for Sunday is currently “dry with sunny spells” – perfect for a wildflower meadow walk.

Wild flower meadow at Woodlands Farm, looking towards the golf course and water tower
Wild flower meadow at Woodlands Farm

 

Wild flower meadows at Woodlands Farm
Wild flower meadows at Woodlands Farm

Woodlands Farm Summer Show and half-term activities for children

Woodlands Farm Summer Show 2016 poster

 

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, hedge-laying tools and a bodger as well as the usual stalls and children’s activities. It takes place on Sunday 5th June between 11.00am and 4.30pm. Maureen from the farm wrote with details:

All are welcome at the Woodlands Farm Trust Summer Show on Sunday 5 June 2016, 11am-4.30pm. 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, get involved in craft activities and games, and enjoy displays of country crafts.  Entry is free but donations are always welcome.  All proceeds go towards caring for our animals.  A great family day out!

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.

 

Sheep Shearing at Woodlands Farm
Sheep Shearing at Woodlands Farm

In the week before the Summer Show, the farm have their half term activities for children. Hannah, the farm’s Education Officer, sent details of these:

Half Term Activities
Wednesday 1st June — Dream Catchers £2 per child
Do you love having a good dream? Traditionally dreamcatchers were believed to trap your bad dreams but allow your good dreams through. So come and join us at Woodlands Farm as we make dream catchers using willow and other natural materials.  This is a drop in session. No need to book.
Thursday 2nd June — Pond Dipping
What is hiding beneath the surface of the pond, join us to find out.  All equipment provided.  Sessions at 10am, 11am, 1pm and 2pm
£1 per child    Booking essential, call 020 8319 8900
Friday 3rd June — Brilliant Bees 11am-3pm    £2 per child
Join us for a day of bee-related fun and activities. Go on our ‘Bee-scene’ trail to see if you can spot bees and the plants which are so important for their survival. Learn about the Farm’s own  honey bee hives and do a craft to take home.
Have a go at candle rolling (£1.50 extra).  No need to book just drop in.

There may also be a chance to see the new piglets recently born to the farm’s Gloucester Old Spot pig, Rosie. They are a cross between Rosie and a Saddleback pig and have an interesting mix of markings.

Rosie, the Gloucester Old Spot pig, at Woodlands Farm
Rosie, the Gloucester Old Spot pig, at Woodlands Farm
Rosie's new litter
Rosie’s new litter

Beekeeping Talk at Severndroog Castle

Severndroog Castle
Severndroog Castle

There’s a chance to learn more about bee-keeping this Thursday, 26th May, when Severndroog Castle hold an illustrated talk on the subject presented by John Large of the Oxleas Wood Apiary. Stephen sent me details:

ILLUSTRATED TALK on HONEYBEE KEEPING IN OXLEAS WOODS from Oxleas Wood Honeybee Apiary.
7:00PM THURSDAY 26MAY 2016
£3.50 per visitor includes access to the viewing platform
Jars of Honey are the on supermarket shelves, local honey can be found on sale at markets or by the side of the road. Honey comes from the bees we see flitting from flower to flower but does every type of bee make honey?
How does honey differ from place to place?
Is honey made throughout the year?
How is it collected?
Now is the chance to discover the answers to these questions and many more.
John Large, the Oxleas Wood Apiary apiarist, will be at Severndroog Castle to introduce the art and mystery of beekeeping, together with some of the known facts and science of A. Mellifera. He will venture into some of the remaining mysteries about the anatomy of the individual bee and social behaviour of the bee colony, including the gaps in our knowledge and the enigmatic and sometimes perplexing traits of bee behaviour that persist  for several thousands of years since man first endeavoured to domesticate these fascinating creatures.
Weather and seasonal development permitting, John Large will bring along an observation hive stocked with bees, so that the wonderful world of the honeybee can be witnessed at first-hand. The fully illustrated presentation will include a question and answer session and, perhaps, close with a sweetener to those participating.
Tickets will be available on the door but if you wish to book in advance click on the link below. Please note when booking via Eventbrite there will be a booking fee.
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/bee-keeping–tickets-24844043202

Sounds fascinating, and with the added bonus of a twilight view from the top of the castle!

 

The hives of Oxleas Apiary
The hives of Oxleas Apiary

Bluebell Walk on Sunday May 1st

Bluebell Walk Poster 2016

Our local woodlands are awash with bluebells and other wild flowers: it’s the perfect time for a walk in the woods, and there’s a great opportunity this Sunday, 1st May, when Woodlands Farm have organised a guided walk through the woods from Severndroog Castle to Woodlands Farm starting at 2.00pm.

Hannah Ricketts, the farm’s education officer, wrote with details:

Bluebell Walk
View the delights of springtime bluebells with this guided walk through Oxleas Wood and Woodlands Farm. Starting at Severndroog castle this walk will meander through Oxleas Wood taking in the signs of spring as well as a chance to find out more about the history of the woodland, it will end at Woodlands Farm with a trip up to Clothworkers Wood if you still have the energy to enjoy the farm’s display of bluebells. This walk is free, donations are welcome. For more information call 020 8319 8900.

This is more than just a chance to admire Oxleas’ and Woodlands’ bluebells. Previous bluebell walks have revealed some of the woods’ hidden treasures, such as the Redwood trees planted by the London County Council  in the middle of our native woodlands, not to mention native plants that are indicators of ancient woodland, such as the Wild Service Tree and  Butchers Broom – species that would be threatened if a road was ever built through the woods.  One year we heard about the historic cants of coppiced Hazels and Chestnuts deep in the wood and their place in medieval life. This walk is very educational and very highly recommended.

You can see photographs of the plants and wild flowers of Oxleas Woods in a Flickr album here.

Bluebells in Oxleas Wood
Bluebells in Oxleas Wood
Bluebells and Wood Anemones in Lesness Abbey Woods
Bluebells and Wood Anemones in Lesness Abbey Woods

 

Birds, Bees, Barn Dances and Lambing Day at Woodlands Farm

Woodlands Farm Lambing Day 2016 Poster

Upcoming events at Woodlands Farm include their annual Lambing Day fair, two barn dances, the first of the season’s wildlife surveys, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust‘s bee walk,  and an early spring bird walk.

Maureen wrote with information about Lambing Day:

Lambing Day at Woodlands Farm, Sunday 10 April 2016, 11:00am-4.30pm
All are welcome at the Woodlands Farm Trust Lambing Day. Come and see our new-born lambs, and enjoy the chance to buy quality local produce at reasonable prices, including home-made preserves, cakes and honey.  Relax in our café, enjoy the treasure hunt or get involved in craft activities. Entry is free, but donations are always welcome. All proceeds from donations and our stalls go towards keeping Woodlands Farm here as a conservation project and valuable resource for the community. A great family day out!
No parking, please use public transport. Sorry, no dogs allowed.

There seem to have been more new lambs than ever this year. Most are now out in the fields, demonstrating their skills in exuberant bouncing with all four feet in the air, or joining in a mass race across the meadows.

New lambs racing across Woodlands Farm's fields
New lambs racing across Woodlands Farm’s fields
One of Woodlands Farm's new lambs
One of Woodlands Farm’s new lambs

There will be two traditional barn dances this year, on Saturday 28th May and Saturday 9th July, both starting at 7.30pm. Skinners Rats will be providing live country music and will be calling the steps. We’ll need to bring our own food, drink and glasses.
Tickets are £14 (including VAT and booking fee) – booking is via eventbrite: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/barn-dance-tickets-21713716310

Honey Bee at Woodlands Farm
Honey Bee at Woodlands Farm

The first Bumblebee Survey is this Monday, 21st March at 2.00pm. The Farm’s Education Officer, Hannah, wrote with details:

We have signed up to take part in the Bumblebee Conservation Trust bee walk this year.  This will involve doing a walk round the farm once a month on a set route and recording any bumblebees we see.  This is every month from March to October, so should keep us busy!  Anyway the first one will be on Monday at 2pm.  We will meet in the Farmyard and will use this time to both map the route and record any sightings, not sure if we will see much if still chilly but hopefully be a nice walk anyway and good to plan route for the rest of the year!

The Early Spring Bird Walk is on Sunday 3rd April starting at 10.00am. It is free to farm members, but for non-members costs £2 per person or £1 for children under 18. We are advised to wear sturdy footwear and suitable outdoor clothing. The walks includes climbing a small stile.
Lots to see and do down at Woodlands Farm. And don’t forget the Spring Equinox Walk tomorrow, Sunday, at 10.00am.

Long-tailed Tit at Woodlands Farm
Long-tailed Tit at Woodlands Farm

Woodlands Farm February: half-term activities, bird watch and St Valentine walk

Woodlands Farm February Half Term Events poster

Woodlands Farm has activities for everyone during February: there is the Big Farmland bird count next Monday 8th, a St. Valentine’s Walk on Sunday 14th and their children’s activities during half term week from 17th to 19th.

Hannah, the farm’s Education Officer sent details of their February half term events for children:

Wednesday 17th February    Sparrow Detectives    1pm-3pm
Where have all the sparrows gone?  The numbers of house sparrows in London have decreased but why? Become a detective for the afternoon and go on our farmyard trail to find out what has happened and how we can help the sparrows.  £2.50 per child.  No need to book just drop in between 1pm-3pm to collect your detective pack.  For more information call 020 8319 8900
Thursday 18th February        Farmer Duck Day    10am-12pm and 1pm-3pm
Join us for a day all about the story of ‘Farmer Duck’.  We will start by reading the story of Farmer Duck and finding out about all the jobs he has to do on the farm, before going for an explore of the farmyard to visit all the animals from the story.  The make your own farm animal to take home with you.  £4 per child.  Booking is essential, to book call 020 8319 8900
Friday 19th 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 Forshaw on education@thewoodlandsfarmtrust.org

 Long-tailed Tits feeding at Woodlands Farm
Long-tailed Tits feeding at Woodlands Farm

Hannah also sent a reminder of Monday’s Big Farmland bird count:

Just a reminder that it is the Big Farmland bird count next Monday 8th Feb.  We will meet in the farmyard at 9.30am before heading out to the fields for the half hour count.  Please bring binoculars with you, but we do have some we can lend if you don’t have any.

This is the farmers’ equivalent of the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch, but is organised by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust. Last year the farm’s volunteers did the count over two days and spotted 17 different bird species:

Monday 9th February
1 Black headed gull
2 Blackbirds
11 Carrion Crows
6 Common Gulls
5 Long tailed tits
18 Magpies
2 Ring Necked Parakeets
1 Green Woodpecker
5 Greenfinch
1 Sparrowhawk
1 Stock dove
38 Wood pigeon
2 Feral Pigeon
Tuesday 10th February
1 Blackbird
3 Blue tits
5 Carrion crows
8 Common Gull
1 Great tit
1 Lesser black backed gull
12 Magpies
3 Ring necked parakeet
1 Robin
3 Greenfinch
60 Wood pigeon

Then the next of the farm’s series of free monthly guided walks is the St. Valentine’s Walk on Sunday 14th February, starting at the green Education Building at 10am.

And if this all sounds far too energetic then just drop in and see the pregnant ewes in the barn waiting for the lambing season and Lambing Day on Sunday 10th April.

Coal Tit at Woodlands Farm
Coal Tit at Woodlands Farm
Female Chaffinch at Woodlands Farm
Female Chaffinch at Woodlands Farm
 Dunnock at Woodlands Farm
Dunnock at Woodlands Farm

Mayplace Lane tidy and planting on Sunday

Mayplace Lane near the bronze age barrow on Plum Lane
Mayplace Lane near the bronze age barrow on Plum Lane

The Friends of Mayplace Lane will be holding a tidy up and planting session on Sunday from 11.00am, meeting in the Lane just down the hill from Plum Lane. They would welcome any help from local residents.

As well as picking litter and other larger rubbish, the Friends will be planting bulbs and trees. They have secured a donation of small saplings of various colours from the Woodlands Trust, including silver birch, rowan, hazel, dogwood and wild cherry. Some will be planted in the lane and others in gardens backing on to the lane.

The Friends are keen to encourage wild flowers and animals, and to deter fly tipping. They have had some success in attracting wild life as several hedgehogs have been seen in the lane and in gardens backing on to the lane, sharing the area with foxes as shown in the photo below from the Friends’ Facebook page.

 

Hedgehog and Fox in garden backing on to Mayplace Lane
Hedgehog and Fox in garden backing on to Mayplace Lane

Park Weekend

Eaglesfield Park Sunday 27th Sept 2015

The weather for the weekend is forecast  to be “Fine and dry with settled conditions,” so a good weekend to get out into our local parks. Both Shrewsbury Park and Eaglesfield Park have community activities this weekend.

On Saturday the Friends of Shrewsbury Park are having one of their regular tidy-up sessions. Kathy wrote with details:

If you can spare an hour to help clean up the park by picking up rubbish and cutting back brambles, please meet this Saturday at 11am at the Garland Road entrance to Dothill.  Please bring your gardening gloves and secateurs.

Then on Sunday the Friends of Eaglesfield Park have things going on all day. In the morning they have one of their clean-up sessions at the lilly pond, assisted from 11.00am by Youth Volunteers from NCS (National Citizen Service), then after lunch another free Tai Chi session led by Tai Chi  teacher Chew-Yeen. Following the Tai Chi, Chew-Yeen has organised a “cake sharing” for a donation of £2 in support of MacMillan Cancer Nurses. We’ll need to bring our own flask of tea or coffee

The details are all on the Friends’ blog, but the key times are:

10.30 am  –                     Monthly pond and meadow tidy up and weeding.
11.00 am – 3.30 pm      Youth volunteers from NCS (National Citizen Service)  weeding and community survey.
1.00 – 2.00 pm              Tai Chi session.

Let’s hope the met office are right for once.

Hawthorn berries in Eaglesfield Park
Hawthorn berries in Eaglesfield Park

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