A revealing day

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Working with Ed Drewitt is truly fascinating. Our ecological survey of the park and surrounding area got off to a great start on Friday.  We were astonished to discover the variety of wild flowers already present in the wetland areas of the park and also on the Green next to Emersons Green Lane. The Green has developed a rich showing of wild flowers this year.vilgreensm

And as you walked through the grass you discovered that the place was alive with insects. We discovered some extraordinary creatures with our sweep nets, but this one you will recognise.

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Grasshoppers have apparently been around on earth for about 250 million years! They look a bit like ancient monsters, don’t they?

We shall be continuing our survey on August 24th and 25th when we will be studying local moths and bats. I will let you know more nearer the time.

Meanwhile I am glad to report that this Saturday July 18th, with lockdown easing, we plan to have our first orchard working party. 10-12 noon as usual. Please let me know if you can come because numbers are limited by government and South Glos guidelines.

I am also pleased to report that I think we have found a home for the painted stones – more shortly.

Join in our Ecology Survey of the Park

autumnsmallI am delighted to announce that, following the loosening of restrictions on assembly, we are now able to go ahead with a project that we have been longing to do.

We have invited the local naturalist Ed Drewitt to help us do an ecological survey of the Western side of the Park including Green Lane and Emersons Green.  The idea is that a small group of us work with Ed so that we learn the ins and outs of ecological surveys and can continue to monitor the wildlife in and around our park afterwards.

Our first session is to take place on Friday July 10th from 10am – 3pm with a break for lunch and will  focus on sweep netting, pond dipping and making plant transects. (transects are a way of dividing up the area for study). We may split into a morning and afternoon session if numbers dictate. Please book your place on Eventbrite or let me know personally if you would like to be involved.

Everyone with a wildlife interest is welcome to join in but please note these sessions are not particularly orientated towards children. We will do other events for them in due course.

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Also The Snake is seeking a home –  I am glad to report that the Covid 19 snake of painted stones that has been developing around the art work in Johnson road has now grown to be 500 stones long! The family that began it all have asked whether the snake might find a more permanent home in the park as a lasting sign of these strange times we have lived through and a mark of respect and thanks to all those who have worked to keep us safe and well.  it sounds like a great idea and we are exploring with South Glos whether this might be possible.

After the sun, the rain

It was so dry for so long that I feared we might lose some of our young trees in the orchard. The raspberries died back in the heat of May, their fruit hard and small. But when the rain came everything changed. Here is a tayberry, just coming ripe.

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Raspberries are filling out and turning red now and the damson tree is bearing fruit for the first time. The damsons should be ready around the end of July.

 

 

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I am sorry we have not been able to do our usual work parties so far this year, but the magic of a ‘forest garden’ approach is that it all goes on without much attention. The Frampton Magnum plum, nearest to Emersons Green Lane was carrying a terrible bacterial disease after our wet winter and I feared we might have to take it down, but the drought seems to have resolved it and it is looking better than ever and bearing fruit.

 

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Wandering away from the orchard one day, I found this rather lovely insect on a leaf near the middle pond. Anyone know what it is called?

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Finally, I thought you might like to see this racing pigeon, who landed in our garden just before the thunderstorms. It has rings on its feet which allowed me to trace its owner and I gather that it was released from Frome and was aiming for Birmingham before it was overwhelmed by thunderstorms everywhere. He walked around our garden for a day and was so friendly and bedraggled we took him in and fed and watered him. He is looking much brighter and I will send him on his way when the rain clears this afternoon.

Best wishes to you all

Have you seen the snake?

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I wonder if you have seen the painted pebble snake that is appearing around the metal sculpture in Johnson Road? A rather lovely example of community art organised by our young people.

Back in the park there has been great busy – ness. I was in the orchard the other day and there was a continual buzz as bee after bee toured the blossom. I reckon there must have been several hundred on site. This little fellow was tucking into a tayberry flower.

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We have not been able to organise any work sessions on the orchard due to the lockdown but some of us have been out as individuals to do a little work. Thanks especially to Neville for clearing a giant patch of brambles and creating a whole new area for planting.

The late frost last week hit the grape vines and the lack of rain has been causing some stress to the young trees, but overall the fruit is coming on well. There are some gooseberries, nearly ready, for those who are partial to them.

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I hope readers of this blog are keeping well. I am aware that some of us associated with Friends of Emersons Green Park are working very much in the frontline of the pandemic. We thank you, and all your colleagues, for your work. Keep safe.

By the way – did you hear that storks are breeding once more in England? At the Knepp Estate in West Sussex, they have been experimenting with ‘Rewilding’ a massive former farm. They have taken down the fences and let their stock of Old English Longhorn Cattle, Tamworth pigs, Fallow deer, Exmoor ponies and more all run free in a carefully managed transition to a much more natural and wild condition for their estate. Along the way they have been delighted by the return of turtle doves, purple emperor butterflies – and this year their storks have had chicks. It is the first time since the battle of Agincourt that we have had storks resident in England. It is amazing what nature can do when we give it a chance. You can read more about it here.

 

Results of our photo competition

Thanks for your entries to our competition.  I hope you enjoyed studying the nature in your garden. Here are the results.

In the under 18 age bracket our judges liked this one the best. The cat is called Loki. Well done Alonzo!

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And for runner up, not everybody’s favourite subject – this snail by Caitlin

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In the adult category, again a creature of some dread – the spider by Helen

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and the runner up , some rather beautiful flowers, again by Helen

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Finally, and not part of the competition, I thought everyone might quite like to see this compilation of night films showing some wonderful creatures sampling a pond close to our park. Thank you to Paul for these. Delightful!

Have a good lockdown!

Nature in the garden – Photography and art competition for all ages

 

pearblossomsmAs we are all instructed to stay at home over the Easter holidays, why not brighten up your day by exploring the wildlife in your own garden? Take a look at those flowers blooming, the insects hovering and the birds gathering and either photograph them or capture them in some form of art like drawing or painting.

Then send what you have done to us as an entry to our Easter competition. We will be announcing  winners in various age categories and publishing the winning entries on our website.

Please send your entries (up to three per person) as an attachment. (You will need to scan your artwork) to friendsofemersonsgreenpark99@yahoo.com
Please give your name and an email address –  and also your age if you are under 18.
The competition closes on April 30th.
It is open to everyone who lives in the Emersons Green, Lyde Green, Mangotsfield and Downend area.

Nature speaks its words of consolation

David Attenborough is saying that we can find solace in the natural world in these times of deep concern. The blackthorn is a common bush but just now it is covered in beautiful white blossom.

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Did you join in the clap for our health workers the other night? I found it very moving. When I see the blossom I think of all those health workers and others who are risking their lives right now to ensure our safety.

Herons are rather wonderful creatures. This one was on the pond by the Science Park  this morning. They look strangely prehistoric. But they speak to me of quietness and the quietness of this present moment in our lives. The ring road is so still. We notice the absence of its hum and find space within ourselves to reflect on life and think again about so many things.

heronsm2The animals are aware that something is going on and they are coming closer to us as we shelter in our homes. I saw four deer yesterday right up close to houses on Lyde Green. A vixen was crying outside our house in Guest Avenue last night.

I have taken to exercising in the wild places and it has been strangely invigorating to discover new paths. I saw two little egrets ascending from the pond behind the garage yesterday, their beautiful, gracious, white bodies merging with the sky. They told another story, which I will leave you to interpret.

Keep safe. Best wishes.

Orchard sessions cancelled

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Dear Friends,

These are strange times. This is just to let you know that in keeping with last night’s announcement by the government, we should cancel our work sessions on the orchard that are set for March. I imagine that some people might still like to help prepare the wildflower garden for sowing, but I suggest we do this in our own time rather than as a gathered group. I am happy to provide advice.

The days ahead will feel very odd to many of us. We will all have to forgive each other when we move over to the other side of the path or stand some way off to chat. I guess if we all do it, then it will feel okay.

On a brighter note perhaps this spring will be a chance for us to ponder the wildlife around us. I am finding some wild places to walk my dog and yesterday saw two heron and three deer. This morning I woke up and saw a pair of goldfinches, long tailed tits, magpies and numerous sparrows all enjoying our garden. That was a comfort.

As the ancient Celts might have said ‘A circle of love be around you all. to keep you from harm’

Best wishes

Will it ever stop?

slackwatersmThe Horfield weather station records that we have had the wettest six month period since their records began in 2004.  It recorded rain on 51 out of 60 days in January and February. And I guess we are all beginning to feel it in our bones.

One bright spot in all this is the slack water pictured here near the orchard. This is the place where John would rescue the frogspawn as the water dried out each summer. Tony has suggested that we make a small clay bank where this drains away so as to make the water last longer and I am glad to report that Jim, from South Glos, hopes to get a team on this shortly. If that does not work we will do it ourselves.

We had a very good meeting of our management committee and have some great plans brewing for the upcoming Festival of Nature on May 23rd this year. More on this to follow, but Sharon is offering to do a plant stall. She says this

Plants Wanted!smplants

As we start (or start to think about) sowing vegetable and flower seeds it would be great if you could sow just a few more this year.  Those extra plants would enable us to have a well stocked plant stall at the Festival of Nature. Any plants that you are able to donate would be gratefully accepted.  The more money we raise the more trees we will be able to plant. We also plan to develop a wild flower meadow to enhance the park for us all. Details of how to donate your plants will be circulated prior to the Festival.

IMG_0485Also – Our grafting session was great fun and particularly interesting as we tried to make new copies of  some old  trees from Magpie Bottom. Here are Venetia and Jim learning the art! I hope to do some trees that Mark is trying to preserve shortly. We shall see if we were successful.

Finally, assuming we do get some decent weather we are hoping to create a new wildflower meadow in the orchard and need to prepare the ground, so I suggest working days as follows:

Wed March 18th 10am – 12
Sat March 21st 10am- 12
Wed March 25th 10am – 12

If you can help at any of these we would love to see you. That’s all for now. Rootstocks for Mark’s trees have just arrived, so I need to get busy!

 

The amazing world of hedgehogs

We were delighted to welcome Yvonne from Hedgehog Rescue to our meeting last night. Her rescue centre looked after an astonishing 392 hedgehogs last year and was able to release many of them back into the wild. Emersons Green still has a decent number. Here are a few samplinghedgehogs 2 food in one of our gardens where hedgehogs have been present since 2013.

I was aware of things we could do to help like making holes in our fences and avoiding slug pellets and rat poison, but I was shocked by the dreadful impact that litter has on these creatures. They get tangled in plastic netting, get feet caught in ring pulls, get their heads stuck in disposable drink cups. Yvonne has seen it all.

Yet there is so much that we can do to make our gardens good for them. We can build houses and feeding stations. We can keep our dogs on lead at night, especially terrier type dogs. We can have wild areas to our garden, piles of leaves and logs or a pond, as long as it has a beach so they can get out.

We hope to welcome friends from Hedgehog Rescue to our Festival of Nature this year which is planned for Saturday May 23rd where we can ask our questions and we will have a map so we can mark on where all the known hedgehogs are in the area.

We have also agreed to start a What’s App group so that we can share news of wildlife in Emersons Green. This is not just about hedgehogs but anything interesting we spot, like foxes, badgers, birds, trees, flowers etc. Anything wild that you enjoy, let the group know. What’s app is particularly good for sending photos. If you would like to join this group, let me know your mobile phone number somehow – perhaps by placing a comment on this site (I moderate comments and will make sure it is not published) or, if you prefer, by note through the door at  50 Guest Ave.

Two other things of interest.

If you are interested in apple trees, you may like to learn how to make your own! I am planning to do some apple tree grafting at 2pm on Thursday Feb 27th at 50 Guest Ave. If you would like to join me and learn how to do it, you are very welcome. Please let me know you are coming.

Finally our management committee for Friends of Emersons Green Park is meeting on Feb 24th at 7.30pm. If you have any concerns or suggestions about anything concerning the park please let us know.

That’s all for now,  don’t get blown away in the storms!