Workday and a bit of a plan.

We had a training session last Saturday with Sustrans. I updated the facebook page and will just pull that update onto here because it forms the main thrust of our winter work schedule.

“Sow new seeds on the banks where nettles are, after clearing the nettles and dead vegetation underneath.

Don’t leave grass cuttings on the path – collect as we mow or rake afterwards.

Every wildflower is important. Be aware of what is already there.

Aim to clear as much scrub as possible (in the winter) to allow grass and wildflowers to grow (Sustrans want 100% more scrub cleared and open ground according to David from Sustrans).

We can work down to the A45.

Don’t mow until everything has flowered – difficult because we want to maintain a path as well as a wildflower haven. This is why we are getting the width so wildflowers can grow between the mown path and the shrubbery on the edges.

Rake the thatch off the grass but we don’t really need to do much else to get new seeds to set.

Work out what needs doing in the winter, whilst everything is in bloom in the summer.

We have a lot of Bloody Nosed Beatles so make something of this asset.

Get some signs made explaining what we are doing and who we are, as a group”.

So today’s workday was done with the above in mind.

First we watered our wildflower bed. This is supposed to be a hub that will flower and then seed the local area. With the scrub clearance that is planned for the winter, this will not be enough.

We then just found bare earth patches and sowed a little bit of seed and raked it over.

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This will be the last bit of sowing seed for this side of summer. The rest of our time will be just cutting back anything that is growing across the path, monitoring and recording flora and fauna, and litter.

With the scrub clearance plan for the winter, we obviously need something to grow in place of the removed scrub. If we leave it we will probably just get nettles. What I want is a wildflower meadow, so I have set up a plan to seed the areas that we clear, with a limestone liking wildflower and grass mix.

I have set up a crowdfund to get the funds together to pay for the seeds.

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/paul-hayden-hart

Thanks all who have already contributed.

This is the area that we want to change from scrub to wildflower meadow.

This is probably our most ambitious winter works schedule so far, We did have this area totally cleared a few years ago so the scrub is all pretty new. But to get a load of wildflowers and decent grasses growing will be fantastic for wildlife and biodiversity, and for the mental health of us humans. We all need a beautiful place to sit at, and a picnic table is a bit of a bonus and will help us reconnect with nature, make some like-minded friends and just be at one with oneself.

Paul

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Wildflower Meadow

Great day to be outside and a nice and relaxed workday. Marcus, Mick, Aaron and myself were certainly enjoying the sunshine.

It was important to get our wildflower beds watered and keep the bird-feeders topped up. Plenty to do. Aaron and Marcus did a great job of clipping back anything that was encroaching onto the path or around the benches.

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We sourced the water from the stream that runs under the greenway and meanders towards Cawston Reservoir, which you can just see in the distance in the photo below.

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In the autumn we are going to take back the bramble right to the edge of the path, both before and after the bridge. As our wildflowers flower and then go to seed, we are going rake the grass really hard to remove the thatch, and also get a golf club and create a load of divots. This is to give the seeds every change of getting down into the soil and germinating next year. The area is perfect for wildflowers because it is flat, on top of the embankment and in full sun.

Here is a little clip of our wildflower seedlings. I have three youtube subscribers already and am quite looking forwards to my BAFTA nomination next year.

We have a long long way to go, but if we do all the right things, this bed of wildflowers will spread and add to the already varied wildflower habitat that already exists.

The butterflies and bees will love this area and it will be fantastic to sit at one of the benches and just enjoy the scents and colours.

Butterflies seen today and recorded on iRecord: Brimstone, Speckled Wood, Peacock, Orange-tip, Small White, Large White and maybe a Green-veined White.

Thanks all,

Paul

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Wildflower Seeds

Today didn’t really go to plan. After watching scores of youtube clips on how to sow our seeds, I really thought it would be easy. They sure make it look easy. But no, it was pouring with rain and had been since last night, we only had one spade, we were up against it time-wise both on the day and getting the seeds into the ground in time for them to germinate for this summer. But Aaron and myself did what we could.

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DSC_0198We found a pretty sheltered area and started to scrape the top off the ground. Eventually we had a three meter by one meter area of bare earth.

DSC_0215We mixed all of our seeds together and then mixed them with a peat-free compost for easy distribution.

DSC_0216We will just need to repeat the above a few times and then see what grows in the summer. As the wildflowers flower and then go to seed, we will need to scrape back more of the grass so the seeds can get into the soil and spread next year. We can introduce yellow rattle in the autumn. This is a lovely wildflower that is great for bees and is also semi-parasitic to grass so should keep it in check and help us get a good balance of grass and flowers.

What we are trying to do is create a wildflower meadow with the path running through the middle and the bramble becoming hedging and shelter on the edges, so we will push back the bramble a bit more in the autumn and let the grass and flowers slowly get established.

The picture in my head is a million miles away from the pictures above. It is all about helping the seeds to get into the ground and germinate this year and next.

These are the seeds, kindly given to us by Sustrans Greener Greenways.

DSC_0196I added some field poppies, really just to commemorate the 1918 one hundred year anniversary. The seeds in the other packs are, bird’s foot trefoil, common knapweed, corncockle, crested dog’s-tail, hedge bedstraw, lady’s bedstraw, oxeye daisy, quaking grass, selfheal, yarrow, betony, corn chamomile, corn marigold, cowslip, foxglove, red campion, white clover, wild carrot, musk mallow, salad barnet, wild basil, wild marjoram, bladder campion, great mullein, campion, garlic mustard, nettle-leaved bellflower, St John’s wort, ragged robin and upright hedge-parsley.

Bit of a tough one today and really winging it. Hopefully we are on the right lines.

Paul

 

 

 

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Our wild strawberry has got, err, a bit wild..

Great day today with Marcus, Linda, Mick and myself. We raked off the banks at Berrybanks and created habitat piles for all sorts of insects and small mammals.

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It’s all about building nooks and crannies for insects to burrow in to and create a home.

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The wild strawberry has totally owned this bank and will be so good for butterflies and bees. Not bad seeing as we only planted it two years ago.

Wildflower finds:

Fungi finds:

All in all, a pretty good day.

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Next one is Wednesday 2nd May at Potsford Dam. We are sowing 22 square meters of wildflower seeds to create a haven for butterflies and bees. Bring a spade to scrape off the top and a rake to till the ground.

Great day today. Friendships being forged and a community space being made.

Paul

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Spiced It Up!

Aaron, Marcus and myself decided to change tack with the squirrels today. Rather than trying to stop them, we thought it might be worth making the food spicy. Squirrels really don’t like spicy or peppery flavours, whilst birds don’t even taste them.

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So in went half a jar of cayenne pepper – the stuff is lethal!! Got some up my nose and had a sneezing fit and then managed to rub some into my eye – much misery later, we got the bird-feeders up and also mixed it with the seeds.

We are going to put Vaseline on the poles at some point. The baffle idea is a good one but when I looked at them at Homebase, they just seemed too big and cumbersome. They also had a “vandalise me” look about them.

DSC_0121It’s looking good.

The rest of the day we spent litter picking from Berrybanks, to the start adjacent to Henry Hinde Middle School, and back.

A couple of quick up and down shots show how good we are looking.

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DSC_0126An interesting fungus that I will try and ID later on..

And lastly, the litter. I have asked Rugby Borough Council to collect this for us.

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DSC_0134Loads of bumble-bees and Brimstone butterflies seen today. Great to see the greenway coming back to life.

Paul

 

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Squirrels 2-0 Harty

I felt like a man with a plan today – how wrong I was..

I made what I thought would be effective baffles to keep the squirrels off our feeders. I was so pleased with the outcome.

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DSC_0104So thinking that our feeders were safe from the squirrels, after they easily managed to scramble up our smooth steel poles, I wandered off southwards to pick up any litter.

It was a wet morning with a mist in the distance. Certainly did not feel like spring. In fact felt very much like an autumnal November.

What is going on with the weather? Anyhow, I made my way back to the bird feeders and there sat a squirrel on top of the baffle, eating the bird food.

baffleIt looks like I am going to have to shell out even more money to secure our feeders!! Hopefully it will be third time lucky. Thankfully I have kept all the previously chewed up feeders so was able to make good feeders with all the bits.

I carried on litter-picking up to the Drummond Road entrance and came across so much Jelly Ear fungus.

DSC_0108Jelly Ear used to be called Jew’s Ear. People think that the name was changed because it was disrespectful to Jewish people, but actually the name is derived from the belief that Judas Iscariot hanged himself from an elder tree, from which the fungus normally grows, and Judas’s Ear got shortened to Jew’s Ear. It is edible but not a great texture or taste. So there you go, a little bit of trivia for you, which is quite relevant at Easter time.

Looking forward to a warmer and drier next week. Workdays have been updated for April.

Paul

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Squirrels!!!

We seem to be stuck in a bit where spring has supposed to have started, but has not, and the start of the bird nesting season. So today we found ourselves kicking our heels a bit with not much to do.

Marcus, Linda, Louise, Sadie and myself scratted about trying to fill the time, never before have we been like this. But we got a lot of litter picked up and repositioned the open bird-boxes that are there for robins.

I moved the open bird-boxes off the path a bit to make them a bit more attractive to robins and other birds that want that open nest.

The squirrels have had a good go at our bird feeders so we have tried to repair them as much as possible. I have sat watching for ages but see nothing, so don’t know how they are getting to the feeders… I don’t really know how to overcome this problem.

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I am just sitting and watching… I wonder how many squirrels are just sitting and watching me…

Lastly, bug houses are up for anything that wants a home.

It is all about creating nooks and crannies, holes and spaces, for insects and birds.

Great day today,

Paul

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