The Friends of Shrewsbury Park are looking for volunteers to help clear ivy from some of the trees in the park this Sunday, 20th May 2012 at 1.30pm. They are meeting, providing it’s not raining, at the junction of the Green Chain Walk with Dothill. Their e-mail which was forwarded to me said:
20th May 2012, 1.30 – 2.30pm
Will you help us clear ivy from some of the trees? Although ivy is not directly harmful to trees, control is needed where the ivy either obscures attractive bark or adds weight to an ailing tree.
•If the branch canopy becomes thin and allows sufficient light to enter, the ivy will develop into its arboreal form. Fraxinus (ash), a naturally thin, open-crowned tree may suffer heavy infestation, and for this reason ivy on ash trees is often controlled
•When trees are grown for their stem or bark, such as birch and some acers, the stems or trunks should be kept free from ivy
•One problem with very old or damaged trees is that the ivy may hide cavities which, in time, could gradually enlarge and possibly affect stability.
We are not clearing ivy from the ground as ivy is beneficial to wildlife. As ground cover in woodland, ivy greatly lessens the effect of frost, enabling birds and woodland creatures to forage in leaf litter during bitter spells.
We will be cutting back the stems to the ground. Because of the proximity to the tree’s roots, it will not be possible to dig out the woody stump. Regular cutting of the stems to ground level may weaken the ivy over time, but is unlikely to kill it.
We are meeting at the junction of the Green Chain Walk with Dothill. Please bring stout gloves and secateurs and/or loppers.
Come and experience an FSP Bat Walk on Friday 11 May, find out where the new bat boxes have been sited and get to know these shy guys in Shrewsbury Park.
We are meeting at 7.45 in the car park off Plum Lane 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, a torch is useful.
· Children must be accompanied by an adult.
· Dogs must be kept on a leash if you need to bring yours.
· The walk will last about 1 ½ hours. If you have mobility issues or enquiries please contact Kris or Kathy on firstname.lastname@example.org . The trail is a mixture of paved path, gravel and grass.
The event is free but your spare change towards buying our own bat detector will be much appreciated.
If it rains neither the bats nor us will be coming out! (but we will reschedule a walk in September)
There are 18 species of bat in the UK and the latest Bat Conservation Trust survey shows that since the year 2000 numbers have been stable or increasing. However that must be offset against steep declines in numbers at the end of the last century – a 70% decline between 1978 and 1992. Bat numbers are one of the UK’s biodiversity indicators – they are seen as a good indicator of the quality of the wildlife habitats in the UK because they are sensitive to a range of environmental pressures. Scientists are currently concerned about the spread of the fatal bat disease known as white-nose syndrome from the USA into the UK population – early indications are that it has not affected British bats yet.
The most likely bats to be spotted on Friday are the Pipistrelle and the Noctule. The Pipistrelle is the most common, and the smallest British bat, weighing around 5g (less than a £1 coin), with a body around 3 or 4cm long and wing span between 18 and 25cm. Pipistrelles can eat up to 3000 insects in a single night! In contrast the Noctule is one of Britain’s largest bats with a wingspan of up to 45cm.
The bat boxes were constructed using the Kent bat box design, and attached, with help from the Royal Borough of Greenwich Council, to a number of trees last Wednesday. The bat walk on Friday will pass right by all the boxes. It is a bit soon for them to be inhabited, sometimes it can take a year or two, though this is the time of year when female bats are looking for suitable nursery sites with the young usually being born around the end of June or early July.
There is some evidence of bat roosts already in trees in the park. Many British bats roost in holes in trees, and there is frequently a tell-tale brown stain of bat urine on the tree below the roost hole. They do frequently move between different roost sites however, so a brown stain doesn’t necessarily mean the hole is inhabited.
The Friends have borrowed a number of bat detectors from the local parks’ forum and the Bat Conservation Trust for the bat walk. These mainly detect the bats’ use of echolocation to find their insect prey at night. As the London Bat Group‘s web site explains:
Bats can see very well, probably better than we do at dusk, but even their eyesight needs some light and they would be unable to find their insect prey in the dark. Bats have solved this problem and can find their way about at night and locate their food by using a sophisticated high frequency echolocation system. Our hearing ranges from approximately 20Hz (cycles per second) to 15,000 to 20,000Hz (15-20Khz) depending on our age, but bat calls are generally well above this. By emitting a series of often quite loud ultrasounds that generally sweep from a high to low frequency or vary around a frequency, bats can distinguish objects and their prey and therefore avoid the object or catch the insect. The frequencies used, and the type of sweep or characteristics of the call can help us to distinguish the species of the bat when we use a bat detector that turns the ultrasound into sound we can hear.
Let’s hope the weather is better for bats and people on Friday, but meanwhile here is an example of what a pipistrelle sounds like using a heterodyne bat detector like the ones which will be used for the bat walk.
The Friends of Shrewsbury Park are looking for volunteers to help clear the rubbish at the edge of the woods near Rowton Road tomorrow, Sunday 22nd April, at 1.30pm. Their e-mail which was forwarded to me said:
Dear Friend of Shrewsbury Park,
We hope you will be able to come along on Sunday (22nd April) to help us clear the rubbish in the Park.
We will be meeting outside the allotment entrance in Rowton Road at 1.30pm and work for up to an hour clearing the rubbish at the edge of the wood opposite Rowton Road.
If you can come, please bring stout gloves, we will supply plastic rubbish bags.
If it is raining, the cleaning event is cancelled.
Oxleas Meadow is the place to go when it snows. It’s the perfect place for sledging – long, broad slopes with a choice of steepnesses to suit all ages and abilities. And all ages and abilities were out there today showing off their skills.
There was an incredible variety of sledges; old fashioned sit-up wooden-slatted toboggans, snow boards, surf boards, a bin liner, bright pink and green plastic sledges, snowmobile style sledges, round ones looking like dustbin lids and one that I’m sure was a dustbin lid. Chaos reigned, bodies falling and rolling everywhere as sleds overturned, ran into each other and skittled other sledders. The whole scene overseen by the usual large crowd of dogs out for a walk, though on this occasion many were dressed for the weather, and a motley assortment of snow men. One enterprising group of sledders had even created a ski jump out of a park bench and a large pile of snow and were using it to launch themselves into ignominious heaps of snow and sledders.
Not far away in Shrewsbury Park a younger set of sledders enjoyed the gentler, less crowded but equally sled-able nursery slopes.
Elsewhere on the hill the snow had waved its transformative magic wand, turning the world bright and beautiful, hiding flaws and smothering imperfections. The woodlands were serene and pristine. Colours were accentuated in the otherwise monochrome landscape; vivid red holly berries and pillar box, the previously unnoticed blue beams in a house on Shrewsbury Lane, and colourful clothing glimpsed through the woods.
The Friends of Shrewsbury Park Annual General Meeting will be held this Saturday, 22nd October from 2.00 to 4.00pm at the Slade Community Hall, Pendrell Street, Plumstead, SE19 2RU which is off Garland Road. We are all invited to find out what the Friends have been doing and how we can be involved in Shrewsbury Park. The Friends’ website has all the details and a link to a map showing the location of the meeting.
There will also be a talk by David Waugh, an amateur astronomer and member of the Flamsteed Astronomy Society, about “Stargazing”. His talk will cover what can be seen in the skies of south-east London, what you can observe with binoculars and small telescopes and how stargazing relates to the broader subject of astronomy. The Flamsteed is an amateur astronomy society named after the first Astronomer Royal John Flamsteed, who laid the foundation stone for the Royal Observatory in 1675. The Society is based at the Greenwich Royal Observatory and National Maritime Museum.
Today was the day of the Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival and Dog Show during the day, plus an evening of Storytelling and live chamber music. Two years ago the day also included an archeological/historical study of the 1920’s Open Air School, which continues to be investigated by Plumcroft School.
Well, here’s the opening number from Plumstead String Quartet’s evening performance, which was possibly a Haydn piece, complete with the sound of children playing, making it very much a ‘live’ live music experience.
The MC closed with a friendly request to people to let their councillors know if they had valued the activities of the day, in order to try and preserve civic arts at a time when events like this (such as the Plumstead Make Merry) are being removed from the public calendar.
Apparently plans to hold a street party to celebrate the royal wedding on Red Lion Lane had run on stony ground for a while, with various bits of red tape barring the way, that is until call-me-dave made his right to party speech…and hey ho, anyone that still had a job to go to, could not go to it for a day, and dance in the streets, or rather have tea and cake in front of the tellybox…in the Lane. The Red Lion Lane street party was extremely cheerful, Ruchita and the Red Lion Pub were very generous in their donations of food, and trestle tables were laid out with cakes and goodies making it a wonderful way to reclaim the streets. This may be a sign of the beneficial effects of less traffic too, as Red Lion Lane recently celebrated the extension of its one way (downhill) route, (from the Eagle pub down to Shooters Hill Campus), so it seems that reducing traffic (or at least moving it onto other nearby roads) enhances social cohesion.
Red Lion Lane 2011
Red Lion Lane 2011
It’s taken a while to get these photos out, and this story is extremely cold-off-the-press; the pictures were so poor that the whole thing was going to stay off-line, but whilst rummaging around in the archives, it was quite interesting to find some old street party photos taken during the VE day celebrations way back in 1945, so it seemed like fun to cobble them all together and see what happened. The most striking differences (apart from the colours) are the presence of injection moulded plastic chairs in the latter-day party, and significantly, the existence of the gazebo, which is now commonplace at outdoor parties. The common strand appears, unsurprisingly, to be the all important bunting, which is in evidence in both eras, although more modestly so in the wartime period.
Back in October when the sweet chestnut season was in full swing, I mentioned that I was looking forward to the first frost of the year, the seasonal cue to make sloe gin… however climate chaos (or cyclical warming as some would have it) appears to have put a kibosh on my plans, as whilst I patiently waited for jack frost to turn up and ice those berries near the duck pond, someone or something came along and snaffled the lot!
My first thoughts were that some human(s) had picked them all, but considering how high up some had been, I began to wonder if perhaps those pesky parakeets had been at them?
Anyway, today I was out testing the unofficial shortcut from Dot Hill to Cheriton Drive (very muddy), and I stumbled upon a whole load of blackthorns at the entrance to the old allotments! Luckily enough I still had a bit of gin left (which I’d been drowning my sorrows in after the loss of the other sloes), so I grabbed about 40 or so, plus a thorn, leaving plenty enough for any other foragers/birds in the area. There’s also a load of rosehips there too, at least that’s what I think they are.
The home made recipe is totally straightforward, but superior to the shop-bought version, which apparently gets made with rough spirits and cordial. Essentially, you just use the sloes to double the amount of drink, and it makes a very pleasant winter warmer:
enough sloes to fill bottle of gin
one empty bottle of gin
one full bottle of gin
prick the berries with the thorn
drop them into the bottles with gin
shake gently every now and then
the colour and flavour is optimal after three months, but it rarely remains in the bottle that long