Hetty and her lambs, the last lambs of 2013 at Woodlands Farm
Hannah from Woodlands Farm wrote with details of their May 2013 half term activities for children and their next barn dance:
Tuesday 28th May — Brilliant Bees!
10am-2pm £1 per child, accompanying adults free
Join us for a day of bee related fun and activities. Plant wild flowers to take home to encourage bees into your garden or 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. This event is from 10am-2pm, so just drop by to find out how brilliant bees really are.
Wednesday 29th May — Pond Dipping
1 hour sessions starting at 10am, 11am, 1pm and 2pm
£1 per child, accompanying adults free
Come and see what you can find hidden beneath the surface of the water. Using nets we will delve into this mysterious world. Booking essential, call 020 8319 8900
Friday 31st May — Woodlands Farm Trust at Danson Park
11am-3pm FREE !
Join the Woodlands Farm team at Danson Park and meet our animals, have a go at milking a cow, join in arts and crafts and lots more. We will be between the play area and the Stables Restaurant, so just drop by and join the fun.
The farm barn dances are always great fun, and are held in a real barn with the brilliant Skinner’s Rats playing and calling the steps. Details below:
Woodlands Farm Barn Dance
Saturday 25th May.
7.30pm – 11pm: Live country music by Skinners Rats. Tickets are £12 and this includes a ploughman’s supper. Please bring your own drinks and glasses. Booking is essential, to book call 020 8319 8900.
Madeleine from the Friends of Eaglesfield Park wrote with the latest news about the pond, and about a Pond Dipping event this Sunday, from 10am to 12.00 Noon. This will be combined with the first weeding and tidying session of 2013 for the wild flower garden around the pond.
Finally Spring (and the sunshine) have arrived and we can continue the development and tidy up of the pond and meadow. The pond life seems to be flourishing, including newts, frogs, water boatman, water skaters, dragonfly with plenty of other interesting creatures we have yet to identify! The meadow has “greened up” well, but we need to reduce the invasive “weeds” and grass so that the wildflower seeds planted last year have a better chance of survival. We also have more seeds to sow and will be adding further plants. By now it is “old” news that there are up to a dozen ducks that regularly visit the pond. I also understand that bats have been seen hunting around the pond. We would like to thank everyone for their support and hard work in transforming this once forgotten part of Eaglesfield Park into a beautiful focal point for wildlife and the local community.
We are meeting on Sunday 19th May between 10.00 am and 12.00 noon to carry out litter picking, weeding and planting and would very much appreciate your help – whatever time you can spare would be a valuable contribution. Sorry, but could you bring your own tools (spade, fork, trowel, builder’s bucket) and don’t forget to wear old clothes, wellies and gloves. It won’t be all hard work though, we intend to have a bit of fun! We will be POND DIPPING as well.
So, why not bring the family to try POND DIPPING and help identify the various pond creatures. We will supply pond dipping nets and information for identification.
We do hope you will pop round to see us.
Whilst writing, some news in brief:
- We are still working with Royal Greenwich and the Lottery Fund and hope to have new signage in and around the Park in the very near future.
- IT access is currently being updated and we will keep you informed. Meanwhile, if you have queries or comments, I am happy to help.
- We are in the early stages of planning park events.
On a personal level, I have lived on Shooters Hill all my life and have been a member of Friends of Eaglesfield Park (FOEP) since it was set up in 2006. I remember the pond as a beauty spot that everyone visited but which over the years became overgrown, a dumping area and eventually a dried up scrub. In fact many people did not realise the pond had ever existed! I do hope you agree with me that the restored wildlife pond and meadow is a wonderful opportunity to study nature in a tranquil setting. If you would like to know how you can help the FOEP, please get in touch. We really could do with some extra help!
The pond is looking good at the moment. I notice that a new tree has been planted where the Mulberry that fell over during the pond work used to be. I hope it’s a replacement Mulberry!
Bats are just amazing creatures; flying mammals that are superbly adapted to their nocturnal lifestyle. And much maligned – they are not vampiric blood-suckers, swooping down to latch onto a jugular vein. Admittedly a few Central and South American bats do feed on the blood of livestock such as pigs and cattle, but they lap up the blood coming from the cut they make in their prey’s vein rather than sucking it out. Even this has a good side: a drug has been developed from the enzyme in the bats’ saliva that prevents the blood clotting, which may, one day soon, be used to treat people who have had a stroke. A scientist with a sense of humour has called the drug Draculin.
The Friends of Shrewsbury Park are bat lovers. Their bat walk has become an annual event, and the next one is on Friday 17th May, meeting at 8.00pm at the car park off Plum Lane. Last year’s walk took place on one of the few dry spring days, and attendees were rewarded with detection and sightings of a number of hunting pipistrelles. Hopefully the long, cold winter hasn’t had too much effect on the bats and this year’s walk will be similarly successful. The walk will pass by the bat boxes the Friends constructed and, with council assistance, attached to trees in the park last year. Sometimes it is a year or two before boxes are inhabited, and bats move between different roost sites at different times of the year, so it will be interesting to see on Friday if the park boxes have any occupants.
Putting up bat boxes in Shrewsbury Park
Bats are a priority species in the Royal Borough of Greenwich Biodiversity Action Plan, which says in the species action plan for bats:
Many bat species roost in loft spaces in houses and this sometimes causes people concern, as there are many misconceptions about bats:
• Bats are not rodents, and do not gnaw at wood, wires or insulation.
• All British bats consume insects and therefore their droppings are dry and crumbly, they do not putrefy like mouse droppings.
• Bats do not nest and therefore do not bring bedding material or insect prey into roost spaces.
• Bats are clean, and spend many hours grooming.
• No species of British bat feed on blood.
Aims for Greenwich:
• To protect and enhance the present population through increasing the provision of roost sites in Greenwich.
• To protect and enhance linear landscape features and wildlife corridors for bats to commute between roost and feeding sites.
• To increase the abundance of insect prey available for bats.
Pair of Pipistrelles under a thumb
A good way to find our more about bats is to go along to the Bat Fest organised by the Bat Conservation trust and the Natural History Museum, which this year runs over the weekend of 1st and 2nd June at the museum in South Kensington. Volunteers from the London Bat Group will be on some of the stands. Last year it included various batty activities for children, some more detailed technical stuff about echolocation and a series of Nature Live talks. Also there was the marvellous Jenny Clark, a bat carer who has converted part of her home in Forest Row, Sussex into a bat hospital. She brought along some of the rescue bats that couldn’t be released back into the wild because, maybe, they were unable to fly or had been hand-reared from babies. It was a rare chance to get close to live bats, and to learn how cute and fragile they are, and that they purr when stroked.
If you share my fascination with batty matters, take a look at these Youtube videos of bats in action. First, on BBC’s Top Bat, a sequence showing Daubenton’s Bats hunting at Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire.
I just love this video of the Long Eared Bat silently stalking moths using its hypersensitive hearing.
At the next meeting of the Shooters Hill Local History Group you will be transported back forty years, to Woolwich, Plumstead Common and Shooters Hill in the 1970s. We will show three films made by local people:
THIS GIRL WENT TO MARKET – a young lady researches the history of Beresford Square market and finds her future (real life) husband.
PLUMSTEAD MAKE MERRY – the preparation for this popular local festival and the many aspects of how people enjoyed themselves at the two day event on Plumstead Common.
INN AT THE TOP – the archaeological search by members of the Shooters Hill Local History Group and friends for the “Catherine Wheel” ale house at the crest of Shooters Hill, which predated the “Bull” as a stop for stage coaches on the road to Dover.
Meeting is at Shrewsbury House, Bushmoor Crescent, Shooters Hill.
Opportunities for art lovers to meet and talk to local artists in their studios start this weekend when some of the members of the Blackheath Art Society open their workplaces to the public. They are open from 12.00 noon to 6.00pm this Saturday and Sunday (27 & 28th April) and then again on the weekend of the 4th & 5th May. Admission is free.
The Blackheath Art Society leaflet, above, gives details of the artists and where they can be seen (click for a larger view). Some of the artists I saw last year are open again this year. I particularly enjoyed the creations of Nicola White, who makes her art from flotsam and jetsam found along the banks of the Thames such as lengths of driftwood and pieces of glass worn smooth by the tide. I must admit that the Thames Bottle Fish we got from Nicola last year is still waiting, with the wooden Roopachanda fish from Bangladesh, to be put up on the bathroom wall – it really needs a third fish to make a plaster duck like cascade. I also liked the acrylics, water colours and pastels of local scenes by Pat Colman, who teaches art at the University of the Third Age in Greenwich.
Blackheath Art Society also have a Taster Exhibition on at the moment until 19th May at the Greenwich Tourist Information Centre in Cutty Sark Gardens, and will hold their Summer Exhibition at the Blackheath Halls, Lee Road from 5th to 18th June.
There are so many artists working at the seven acre site of Second Floor Studios & Arts that I still haven’t got round them all, despite visiting on a couple of their open studios days. The next one opens on the evening of Friday17th May from 5pm – 9pm and is open on Saturday and Sunday 18th & 19th from 11am – 6pm. The range of creative work going on down by the Thames Barrier is enormous, as their web site says it includes:
SFSA have produced a Family Trail map and activity sheet to guide families with children on their exploration of the site and studios.
Also on the SFSA site over that weekend, the no format gallery has an exhibition of contemporary furniture and lighting produced by SFSA members, and the gallery will be the venue for the launch of Stephen Baycroft’s new book “On Sublimity and Synaesthesia”. And of course there’s the Thames-side Social Enterprise Arts Café CANTEEN to relax and recuperate in when you get studio-ed out.