Farewell to John

langley pondIt is with great sadness that I report the passing of John who walked the park every day with his German Shepherd Tess. It is probably no exaggeration to say that everyone knew John, because he stopped and spoke to so many and always had some story to tell. John loved the park and maybe the park loved him. He would quietly try to save the frogspawn when the wet patches were drying out. He would look out for the foxes he met in the nighttime. And he was particularly pleased with the new benches.

We will all miss John very much.  I will still imagine him walking there and expect to meet him round the next corner. Perhaps we shall one day. I understand that the funeral will be this Thursday, Jan 30th at 10am at Westerleigh Crematorium.

The New Year begins, wildlife awakens and we have a meeting

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Happy New Year!

Please remember our invitation on Wednesday January 15, 7.30pm at the Library when Sally Pattison from South Glos will help us explore the wildlife potential of the park and its surrounds and we will focus on

Nightlife on Emersons Green

There is an amazing amount of activity at night around the estate. Have you seen anything? I heard a strange call the other night. I thought it was a cat at first  but I opened the curtain and there was a fox. It was a vixen calling for a mate. January is mating time for foxes.

Come and tell your stories about what you have seen so we can learn more about the animals with whom we share the land. Keen to hear about any and every sighting, every animal. Bring your friends.

It is always amazing to see how the life of the park senses the lengthening of the days. For those who are interested today is 1 minute and 45 seconds longer than yesterday!

The Robins are everywhere and so conspicuous at this time of year.

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And we are pleased to welcome the woodpecker back for a new season. I heard it beating out a tattoo yesterday and saw it among the branches today.

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There are also some very loud thrushes making their presence known to each other. This one has set up shop near Emersons Green Lane.

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We look forward to seeing you on the 15th. Hope you can make it.

Chris

 

 

 

Hooray for the new benches and an invitation

Greetings everyone –  in our deep and dark December. I understand we have just experienced the wettest autumn for many years!

It has been delightful to welcome our new benches to the park. Our thanks to South Glos for these fine new additions. I particularly like the wooden ones.

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Some of us have been exploring the idea of setting up some form of local naturalists group with the aim of discovering the wildlife in the park and its surrounds. With this in mind I am pleased to announce a meeting on Wednesday Jan 15th at Emersons Green Library from 7.30 – 9pm when Sally Pattison of South Glos will help us think about the wildlife corridors in our area and we will focus on the subject

Nightlife on Emersons Green – have you seen any foxes, badgers or hedgehogs?

The idea is to recognise these creatures of the night that live among us and learn to appreciate them. Please come if you can – especially if you have news of one of these animals living in the neighbourhood.

I wonder what you think about all the pumpkins left out in the park? I gather that this arose because Chris Packham said how much wildlife would appreciate them as a food source. My first thought is that leaving food out in the park can be difficult eg in attracting rats but it would be good to hear other opinions about this. I am biased – any food sends my dog AWOL!

Some have asked me about the old oak tree that has been felled at the corner of Hicks Avenue. I asked South Glos about this and was pleased to see a note there now saying that it was felled because of disease and would shortly be replaced.

On a less encouraging note I was sorry to see this graffiti appear on the board in the formal garden.

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For a treat Bobbie and I recently went on a ferryboat trip up the Avon Gorge with naturalist Ed Drewitt. We had a great time and saw Red Shanks, Curlew, Lapwing, Common Sandpipers, Cormorants, Shelduck and right at the end, on A Bond warehouse, this peregrine falcon, which I thought you might like to see.

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And finally – by way of Christmas celebration in this most inclement weather, Bobbie and I would like to invite all the Friends of Emersons Green Park to mulled wine and mince pies at 50 Guest Avenue on Saturday 21st December from 5-7pm. We hope you can come.

Have a good Christmas

 

 

Autumn Gold

What a wet September and October with no signs of let up in the rain. Yet Autumn still comes and with it the magnificent colours in the park.

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The old oak near the library continues to delight and this year it has a particularly interesting bracket fungus in its hollowed out middle. I read that such fungi do not normally damage the living wood of a tree, but feed on the dead middle known as the heartwood.

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For those who could not be there, our AGM was a delightful affair with gorgeous food and great company. We even had time for some discussions about the park! Here are some minutes if you would like to check the detail. Highlight for me was the decision to set up a local naturalists group for young and old, exploring wildlife in the local area. If you would like to help organise this, or contribute to it in any way, please let us know.

They say that nature is red in tooth and claw – well here is a living example, taken from my garden. The sparrow hawk had helped himself to a pigeon and stayed on our garden table for about ten minutes making sure of the best meat.

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Other things that may be of interest are that we will shortly have an information board for the orchard and several new benches are to be installed in the park.

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Many thanks also to Venetia for our new logo. Here it is.  Enjoy the season.

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More trees anyone

autumnAs the leaves begin to fall and we are treated to those rich autumn colours in the park, so we recognise that the trees are entering their dormant phase and it will soon be time when new  trees can be planted. We shall be putting some new apple trees in the orchard this year. They are smaller ones where the fruit can be easily reached and which I hope might be less damaged by picking.

I also wonder whether there are other areas of the park that would benefit from more trees. The Woodland Trust are hoping to plant a million trees across the UK this year and looking for local people to identify suitable sites. I wondered, for example, whether the section running down to the library might be suitable (pictured here)?

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It feels slightly empty and sterile at the moment, at least to my way of thinking. Let me know what you think. I also thought about the possibility of trees on Lyde Green Common. I am not sure if that would be welcomed by local people or possible legally, but the question seems worth asking.

There is a debate about this whole process of tree planting. Some say that simply letting trees grow as part of ‘rewilding’ is a better way. We experienced that in the park a few years back, when a whole forest was growing in the wilder side of the park. No one had planted anything. It just happened. The council eventually cut it back on the orders of a government inspector, who thought it would impede the flood protection properties of the park’s streams and ponds.

I am not sure that the section of the park pictured above would rewild easily, or that the process would be welcomed by the public, so tree planting may be the best first proposal.

Also please note that Friends of Emersons Green Park are holding our first AGM this year on October 21st at 7pm in the Jefferies Room of the Village Hall. It will take the form of a Harvest Supper on a bring and share basis. You are most welcome to come.  We will be talking about ideas for the group’s activities in the coming year. Please let us know through the contact form on this website that you plan to attend so we can coordinate food and make sure there is enough space.

Orchard Delights

It has been very good to hear so many appreciative comments about the orchard this year. The wild flowers have clearly been a highlight and much of the fruit has been picked.

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There has been a bit of a struggle in regard to the apples. A tree was damaged by climbing and some fruit obviously wasted. I tried out the idea of an apple sharing day and set it for Sept 15th when at least some of the fruit would have been ripe, but most of the apples were taken well before this., so I am cancelling that. My guess is that the idea of an apple sharing day will not quite work in such a public space. Plans for the future are to immediately remove all the apples from any tree that is being damaged and to plant some smaller apples trees where people can reach the fruit without climbing.

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Just now there are some nice thornless blackberries and yellow raspberries ready to take. We are currently working on an information board for the orchard which will say more about what the orchard is for, how to use it and when to expect each fruit to be ripe.

Next week on Wednesday (11th Sept) we have an orchard working party at 10am to 12noon. Please come if you can. We shall be preparing to sow more wild flowers, shifting compost, preparing to plant new apple trees and sharing out any remaining apples.

Finally, regarding the park in general, I am sorry to see trolleys in the park again. I am told that they are being used to light fires of plastic things. Something to do with smelling the fumes. Extraordinary!

News of our upcoming AGM shortly.

Beautiful common things

It is sweltering today and the park feels like a furnace to walk through. Many will be away on holiday, but for those who are about, here are a few lovely things I saw today.

bindweed

I guess bindweed is hated by most, especially when it is in the garden or the allotment. But now is its moment to become truly beautiful and it is all over the wilder parts of the park.

The same goes for the wood pigeon. The pigeons in Dibden Lane allotment used to eat small cabbage plants within hours of them being put out.  So they were not best loved. But actually they are rather beautiful. This one was enjoying the morning sunshine.

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Jim at South Glos asked us to keep an eye out for our ash trees, because of the threat of ash die back disease which is currently sweeping the country. We have some amazing trees, some of which will be very old. I have identified fifty one ash trees from within the park. These ones are near the orchard and may be some of the oldest.

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As yet, and as far as my untrained eye can tell, there is little sign of the disease in our park, but, sadly, this is unlikely to remain the case. We can expect to lose many of them, starting with the youngest saplings. So we should enjoy them while we can!

There is also a disease on our horse chestnuts near the Langley. Thanks to Pete for pointing this out. I think it is leaf miner disease, which, although it may make for smaller conkers, will not effect the tree in the long term.

That’s all for now. Have a good holiday season. I think I just spotted the first ripe blackberry…