Christmas Fairs at Christ Church and Woodlands Farm

Woodlands Farm Christmas fair poster 2016

Father Christmas has a busy weekend coming up in Shooters Hill: he’s visiting St Nic’s Fête at Christ Church on Saturday and Woodlands Farm Christmas Fair on Sunday.

St Nic’s Fête runs from 4 to 6 pm on Saturday, 3rd December. There will be a visit from St Nicholas who will bring a gift for all the children present. There will also be Mulled wine, mince pies, homemade cake, crêpes, biscuit decorating, tombola, a treasure hunt, children’s activities, a Christmas gift stall, and local craft stalls. Then there is a children’s disco from 5.00pm. Entrance costs £3.00 per child with a £5.00 cap per family.

Christ Church St Nic's Fair poster

Maureen sent me details of Woodlands Farm‘s annual Christmas Fair on Sunday 4th December from 11.00am to 3.00pm:

All are welcome at the Woodlands Farm Trust Christmas Fair.  Come and meet Father Christmas, sip mulled wine whilst browsing stalls of local produce and crafts for early Christmas present ideas, or relax in our café while the kids enjoy crafts and games.  A great festive day out for all the family.  Entry is free, but donations are welcome – all money raised helps us to care for our animals. A great family day out!

No parking on site – please use public transport.

While at the farm there may be a chance to see some of the farm’s new arrivals: British White cow Clover’s new calf and two other recent additions to the farm’s herd.

Father Christmas arriving at Woodlands Farm drawn by Bob the pony
Father Christmas arriving at Woodlands Farm drawn by Bob the pony
Clover and her new calf
Clover and her new calf
Woodlands Farm's new calves
Woodlands Farm’s new calves

Apple Day and October events at Woodlands Farm

Apple Day 2016 Poster

Apple Day, mammal surveys, bumble bee walks, new rare breed sheep and half term activities for children: busy times as usual at Woodlands Farm. The farm’s annual celebration of autumn fruitfulness, Apple Day, is next weekend on Sunday 16th October between 11am and 4pm. Maureen from the farm wrote with details:

Apple Day
Join us for a celebration of traditional British apples at Woodlands Farm, 331 Shooters Hill, DA16 3RP, on Sunday 16th October 2016, 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.

I’m looking forward to trying some of the less common English apple varieties, such as Pitmaston Pineapples perhaps, and to stocking up on my favourite Egremont Russets. Maureen also sent me the photo below from a previous Apple Day.

Apple Day at Woodlands Farm
Apple Day at Woodlands Farm

The farm has continued its surveys of the local flora and fauna through the summer, including bat surveys, wild flower surveys, bumble bee surveys and mammal surveys. The next mammal survey is this week: the Longworth traps will be set out on Tuesday afternoon, starting at 3pm, and collected the following morning, Wednesday 12th October,  at 9am. This year’s mammal surveys have been pretty fruitful, with wood mice, bank voles and common shrew found. On the most productive survey 10 out of the 15 traps deployed had something in.

The bumble bee walk is held each month, the next one is this Thursday, 13th October starting at 2.00pm. Anyone interested in helping out with these surveys should contact Hannah Ricketts, the Farm’s Education Officer on education@thewoodlandsfarmtrust.org

 

Wood Mouse caught in Woodlands Farm's Mammal Survey
Wood Mouse caught in Woodlands Farm’s Mammal Survey

Hannah also runs the half term activities for children at the farm, and sent me details of those running this month:

October Half term activities for children
Wednesday 26th October – Make an insect hotel
1pm, 1.30pm, 2pm, 2.30pm.  £4 per child
Come along and make an insect hotel for your garden.  This will be a fabulous place for the insects to hibernate during the winter.  Booking is essential, to book call 020 8319 8900
Thursday 27th October- Autumn Art Day
1-3pm, £2 per child
Drop in for a fun afternoon of autumnal art!  Get crafty with leaves, paint or whatever you fancy!  As well as the rest of the art activities, there will also be a limited number of items to decorate for an additional £2.  No need to book, just drop in.
Friday 28th October – Halloween trail and craft
11am-3pm  £3 per child
Drop in to join the fun as you go on a Halloween trail round the farmyard as well as having the chance to make your own spooky craft to take home.  Why not dress up as well to make the day an even creepier day out!  No need to book, just drop in.

The farm’s new sheep are from a rare breed called Manx Loaghtan, which originate in the Isle of Man. They are characterised by brown wool and can have up to six horns, though the ewes at the farm only have two each.

Manx Loaghtan at Woodlands Farm
Manx Loaghtan sheep at Woodlands Farm
Manx Loaghtan sheep at Woodlands Farm
Manx Loaghtan sheep at Woodlands Farm

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

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

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

Easter Holiday Activities at Woodlands Farm

Woodlands Farm Easter Events poster 2016

Woodlands Farm have their annual Easter Trail for children on Good Friday this year, one of their Easter holiday activities for children. These also include mosaic coaster making and a search for signs of spring. Hannah, the Education Officer, sent me the details:

Friday 25th March (Good Friday)        Egg-cellent Easter Trail 10am-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.
Tuesday 5th April        Make your own Mosaic coaster 10am-12noon
Get creative and design your own coaster using mosaic tiles.  Each child will get their own backing board and the choosing from different tiles you can design your own pattern or picture before you take it home to use over and over again.  £5 per child.  Booking is essential to book go to our website www.thewoodlandsfarmtrust.org
Wednesday 6th April        Spring Trail 10am-12noon
Spring is here, drop in and pick up a trail sheet to start your search for all the signs on spring.  You can even use your finds to make your own spring picture to take home.  No need to book, just drop in.  £1 per child.
For more information, see our website or contact Hannah Forshaw on education@thewoodlandsfarmtrust.org

The farm will also be holding its Spring Equinox Walk on Sunday 20th March starting at 10am, and the first fair of the year, Lambing Day, on Sunday 10th April. I hear the first lambs of the season have already been born.

Spring blossom at Woodlands Farm
Spring blossom at Woodlands Farm
Spring leaves emerge at Woodlands Farm
Spring leaves emerge 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