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!

 

Horace is in need of help

hedghogsmThis is Horace the Hedgehog. He is currently asleep in his house in a garden in Emersons Green. Horace and the other hedgehogs of the area are under threat. They face real difficulties surviving in our sort of society and may go extinct in the UK within the next decade. Their numbers have already decreased from 36 million in the 1950s to just 500,000 animals today.

That was the message given to us by Sally Pattison at the first meeting of our new wildlife group in January and in response we have invited Yvonne from Hedgehog Rescue to come and talk about their work in the local area.

We shall be meeting at Emersons Green Library at 7.30pm on Wednesday 12th Feb. Please come and join us. 

In a few weeks Horace and the other hedgehogs of the area will emerge and begin their nightly foraging. They  may travel more than 1 km each night and it is vital that they find a welcome. Come and find out what you can do to help them survive. To support Yvonne’s valuable work we ask for a donation of £5 per head.

At the meeting we will also be looking for your ideas about our Festival of Nature this year, which we plan to hold in May. What sort of interests should we be covering? Trees/ Insects/Birds? How would you like to work with our local naturalist, Ed Drewitt? Should we launch some sort of hedgehog campaign in the area?

 

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