Wapley Bushes Local Nature Reserve, near Yate and Chipping Sodbury, South Gloucestershire.

The Nature Reserve is run by the Wapley Bushes Conservation Group, a small group of volunteers.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Future Work Mornings - dates for your diaries

Wapley Bushes Conservation Group holds regular work mornings on Sundays, meeting at the Shire Way gate at 10.00 am and finishing by 1.00 pm. It's not as strenuous as it sounds - please come along, do a little practical work and learn about the Nature Reserve.

Our plans for the next work mornings are:
Sep 2 - clearing the stream, trimming back branches from footpaths etc
Nov 4 - Planting trees, native plants in the Western Wood, and honeysuckle in the hedge
Jan 27 - Coppicing and general conservation, more planting

Please wear wellies or stout footwear and appropriate clothing. If you want to find out more please contact Paul Hulbert on 01454 315851 or Isabel Ryan on 01454 313055.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Warning - squirrel working overhead!

I frequently see squirrels at Wapley, and I find their antics quite amusing. Some time ago I saw a young squirrel trying to learn to leap gracefully from tree to tree. It missed its target branch and fell through the tree clutching at branch after branch, and missing each time. Finally it caught hold of a branch about two feet from the ground, and hung there panting and looking very foolish. I refer to it as the "Idiot Squirrel".

I'm often accompanied by a squirrel when I'm walking the paths in the wood - it runs through the branches parallel to the path, about twenty feet in, watching me and keeping pace with my progress. If it's the same one it's learnt to do the Tarzan bit properly now.

While walking in Wapley Wood this week I heard the familiar scampering of a squirrel crossing the path a few feet above my head. Suddenly the fruit shown fell out of the branches and landed inches in front of me. There were tooth marks on the underside of the fruit where it had been bitten off.

Tim Fairhead says that from the toothed shape of the rounded leaf and the shape of the nut cluster it looks like the squirrel was trying to have some immature hazel nuts for lunch - they don't look to be completely ripe with a hard shell as they should be later on in the year.

So - walk the woods at your own risk, or you may get "nutted"!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Report from Work Morning Sunday 8 July

Dave and Isabel delve in the hedge, with Malcolm looking on while Tim directs operations in the background (Mary and Paul not shown)

Isabel clears the way to a tree affected by Dutch Elm Disease

Malcom and Isabel sawing down an infected elm

We tackled several main jobs today. First we removed fifteen or twenty elms affected by Dutch Elm Disease. They're easy to identify at the moment because they have no leaves, or the leaves are discoloured - you can see in the pictures above that the elms are virtually bare.

Next we removed a few strategic branches to open up the Top Pond to sunlight. It's pleasing to see that some of the aquatic plants we put in last year are now starting to spread.

Our final task was removing low-hanging branches from the paths. A good morning's work - a big thank you to everyone who took part.

Our next work morning will be on Sunday 2 September.

A very special place / Cutting dates

A recent survey has confirmed just how special the Lower Meadow is. Its wide range of species puts it in the national top grade of grassland - in fact it's SSSI standard (Site of Special Scientific Interest). However it won't be officially declared as an SSSI because that's only done if a site is at risk, which Wapley certainly isn't. One species that was recorded officially for the first time is the Bee Orchid (though we've seen it occasionally in previous years)

Several people have asked why the Lower Meadow has been cut earlier than usual. The answer is that we're trying to stop the spread of meadowsweet and other invasive plants, and the new cutting date is based on advice from experts. It's a compromise - some of the species we want to keep have only partly set seed, but we want to avoid them being strangled by meadowsweet and the like. Every third year we plan to have a second cut in September. The Upper Meadow will be cut later this month.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Work morning this Sunday - 8 July

A light work morning this time - a general tidy-up and a walk round to plan future care of the woodland and meadows. Wellies or similar would be advisable.

Meet at 10.00 am at the Shire Way gate - please ring Paul Hulbert on 01454 315851 or 07771 562505 if you would like more details.