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.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Christmas cracker

BBC Breathing Places Christmas song video :-)

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Fungus Foray - Tuesday 3 November 2.00 pm

Come and join our exploration of local fungi with expert Justin Smith - meet at the Shire Way gate. There are many kinds of fungi about at the moment - these photos were taken only yesterday.

Blown away

Unfortunately today's Wapley work morning had to be cancelled. It wasn't so much the rain, more the wind - we had planned to do work in the woodland, and that's not safe when there are high speed gusts.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Wapley Bushes autumn events

Lots of things are happening on the Nature Reserve over the next few days:

Saturday 31 Oct 9.30 am - have your say about the Management Plan for the next five years - walk around the Reserve with our consultant. Everyone welcome.

Sunday 1 November 10.00 am - work morning with members of the Conservation Group. Please come and help us!

Tuesday 3 November 2.00 pm - a Fungus Foray with expert Justin Smith. There are lots of fungi on the reserve at the moment, some the size of small plates. Come and find out all about them.

All events are free - meet at the Shire Way gate.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

An excellent workday - report from Sunday 20 September

We had a very good workday last Sunday. We cleared the stream that flows down through the middle of the wood during heavy rain, cleared paths and cut back vegetation in the main wood and at the picnic area, and did a lot of litter picking.

We were very glad to have three local guides with us who are working for their BP Badge - many thanks for your help, girls!

Our next work morning will be on Sunday November 1st.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wapley Bushes - come and help, Sunday 20 September

The Wapley Bushes Conservation Group is meeting on Sunday 20 September at the Shire Way gate at 10.00 am. We should finish by about 12.30 pm.

We will be doing some general conservation work such as tidying up a small stream that is the habitat of a very rare plant.

Please come along and help! Tools are provided, but you'll need to wear wellies or stout footwear and appropriate clothing. If you would like more details please ring Paul on 01454 315851, but you can just turn up on the day.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

More butterflies at Wapley

Peacock butterfly - named after the eye-shaped spots like those on a peacock's tail.

Painted Lady butterfly - an immigrant that flies in from North Africa. Adults cannot overwinter in UK and return south for the winter.

Small White butterfly - its caterpillar is very fond of cabbage. Small and large whites are often called "cabbage whites".

All photos taken 25 July in the small patch of rough ground on the left as you enter the Lower Meadow. The meadows will be cut shortly - take a look now if you want to see them.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A good time for insects

It's peak season for insects at Wapley Bushes Local Nature Reserve.

All photos taken 23 July.

Meadow Brown butterfly on vegetation next to the top pond

Bee on thistle

Dragonfly in the woodland ride - very hard to photograph on the wing

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Discover the nature where you live

Nature lovers are invited to join a walk to explore the wildflower meadows, riverside grasslands and woodlands of St John’s Park estate in Chipping Sodbury.

The walk, which will be led by Mary Wood from Avon Wildlife Trust, takes place on Tuesday 21 July from 7pm.

South Gloucestershire Council has employed the Avon Wildlife Trust to renew the management plan for these open spaces so please come along to discover the wildlife and discuss how the areas should be managed in the future.

Anyone interested in joining the walk should meet at the bridge over the River Frome on Wickwar Road at 7pm.

If you need any further details please contact Chris Giles at South Gloucestershire Council on 01454 863725.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

A little experiment, on a stormy day at Wapley

We're experimenting with Chirbit audio blogging.

A stormy day at Wapley - click here:

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Report from work morning 5 July - lots achieved!

Starting to repair the dead hedge
- driving the uprights in

Filling up between the stakes to build the dead hedge

Our main task was to rebuild a delapidated dead hedge that protects a sensitive part of the woodland. We gathered a variety of material. Much of it came from a fallen bough, which we cut up and carried down to the workplace.

We also collected young trees we had cut down a while ago when coppicing in the Western Wood, and we took out some self-sown young ash that have appeared in the Upper Meadow.

We sharpened stout lengths of wood and drove them in as uprights, then filled in between them with heavy boughs as a foundation and then lighter branches on top.

Dead hedging is a traditional woodland management practice, and it works well with coppicing - in future we intend to use the coppiced wood as soon as we cut it. Previously we've left it to decay as habitat for insects etc, but it was too ready a source of firewood and much of it disappeared.

We had one more task to do before we finished. The diagonal path up through the Western Wood has been getting overgrown, so we cut back the brambles and cleared a way through.

Not bad for two and a half hours work! Our next work morning will be on Sunday 20 September - an early autumn tidy-up, including clearing leaf mould etc out of the little stream so that the centre of the wood doesn't flood during winter rains. Please come and join us - ring Paul on 07771 562505 for details.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Work morning Sunday July 5th - dead hedging

Dead hedging is making a barrier entirely from natural material, as shown in this drawing from the BTCV. Stakes are driven into the ground at intervals, and longer cut branches are woven between the stakes.

We are planning to collect material that we have previously coppiced from the Centenary Wood (see earlier post) and bring it down to locations where we want to create barriers to protect sensitive areas.

Please come along and help us - you can also collect your FREE copy of the new Nature Journal, if you haven't already got one. You'll need to wear suitable footwear. Tools and gloves will be provided.

We look forward to seeing you at 10.00 am at the Shire Way gate.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Work mornings programme

Our next few work mornings will be as follows:
  • July 5 - Dead hedging, collecting material from Centenary Wood
  • Sep 20 - Stream clearance
  • Nov 1 - Planting edge of Western Wood
  • Jan 24 - Coppicing and using material as dead hedging
  • Mar 14 - Hedgerow/boundary planting near Chris's Bridge
Meet at 10 am at the Shire Way gate in each case.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Report from May 31 Work Morning

This was a work morning with a difference, exploring the Reserve with the new Nature Journal.

Flora we spotted included hay rattle (a partly parasitic plant, drawing nutrient from grass), bird's foot trefoil (otherwise known as bacon and eggs), cowslip seed pods, campion, and twayblade (one of the orchid family)

We identified many different bird species including wren, song thrush and green woodpecker.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A special morning - come and join us!

Next Sunday morning, May 31st, we will be exploring the Nature Reserve with the new full colour Nature Journal.

Come along and claim your FREE Nature Journal. We're meeting at 10 am at the Shire Way gate.

Deer deer...

A couple of photos of a stag taken at the top edge of the Lower Meadow this weekend.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

May blossom

"May blossom" - Photo by Isabel Ryan

The hawthorn is now in full bloom. Around the Bristol area the blossom is so well known that the hawthorn itself is often just referred to as "May".

But it's not a blossom that would be welcome inside the house - it's supposed to be very unlucky, as the smell was apparently similar to London during the Great Plague.

On a more positive note the hawthorn is also the species of the Holy Thorn, reputedly brought to Glastonbury by Joseph of Arimathea (Source)

Monday, April 27, 2009

The butterflies have arrived!

A lovely orange-tip butterfly photographed by Isabel Ryan
This is a male - the female doesn't have the orange spots. This is one butterfly that is actually increasing in numbers. For more information check out the excellent UK Butterflies website - the orange-tip is described here

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Unusual hazard warning

Seen in Portishead.

At least we haven't got THIS problem...

Friday, March 06, 2009

Report from Work Morning 1st March

Some of the volunteers and just SOME of the rubbish. Photo by Isabel Ryan.

We had a very successful and well attended workday on Sunday, removing a lot of rubbish from the Reserve. Much of the rubbish was left from heavy public use during the snow, but we took the opportunity to get deep into some of the thickets to remove bottles and other debris as well.

We also removed the best part of 100 yards of barbed wire, the remains of old fences.

While we were working on the Reserve a steam loco went past - the Oliver Cromwell, on an excursion to South Wales.

Photo by Tim Fairhead

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Spring has sprung (maybe)

According to the Met Office, today (1st March) is the first day of spring. But another definition puts it at the night of 20/21 March, the vernal equinox, when day and night are of equal length. Anyway, it's a lovely day at Wapley. Lots of green shoots all over the place, and the first cowslips.

And the rooks are getting territorial - we saw them chasing a buzzard off this morning. The buzzard had had the temerity to stray across the road and over the Common, and the rooks launched in defence. The first rook buzzed the buzzard and nearly put its talons through its head feathers. The buzzard took one look at the attack squadron of another dozen rooks following behind, and headed straight back to the safety of the farmland.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Work morning next Sunday, March 1st

Just a reminder that the next Wapley Bushes Conservation Group work morning will be on Sunday, meeting at the Shire Way gate at 10.00 am. Please come along and help us. We will be doing general conservation work and tidying up and possibly some planting too.

Please wear wellies or stout footwear and appropriate clothing. To find out more please ring Paul on 01454 315851 or Isabel on 01454 313055.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Snow over Wapley

(Photos by Richard and Margaret Hulbert)

Monday, February 02, 2009

Conservation volunteers work with Europe to defeat elm disease

Over the last few decades Dutch Elm Disease, a fungus spread by bark beetles, has devastated the British elm population to the extent that many people have never seen a live mature elm tree.

Now however a multinational project involving a site near Yate may hold the key to repopulating elms in the UK. Members of the Wapley Bushes Conservation Group discovered a a native Wych Elm on the reserve that has remained unaffected by the disease, and they have have sent seeds from to the French national State Forestry Nursery for analysis to assess the extent of disease resistance.

The aim of the European project is to identify types of elm that are resistant to the disease so that eventually the resistant specimens can be planted out to repopulate the European countryside and help the many species that are dependent upon elms.

Tim Fairhead of the Conservation Group explains “In return we received seeds from ancient elm trees in a French Nature Reserve, and these were grown on at Portsmouth University. These particular trees contain high levels of unique bark compounds that deter feeding by the beetles so they are less likely to get infected in the first place. We hope these trees will go on to provide a resource and home for threatened and vulnerable species like the White-letter Hairstreak butterfly”

Volunteers from the Wapley Bushes Conservation Group are shown planting out the resistant saplings on Dodington Parish Council land at Wapley Bushes, together with South Glos Councillors Linda Boon and Claire Young. This is the only elm repopulation project of its type in the South West and one of only four sites in the UK.

Cllr Linda Boon said “It’s good to see such a significant initiative by a local volunteer group. Local groups like this are key to running our local nature reserves, together with support and expert advice from South Gloucestershire’s Environment Department”

Cllr Claire Young said “This is really good news. A whole generation has grown up who only know elms as dead tree skeletons in hedgerows. If this works we can start to repopulate the country’s landscape”

(Photo by Isabel Ryan)

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Landmark tree goes

Many of you will know the burnt-out tree near the bridge between the two meadows. We kept it as long as we could, but large holes started opening up in the base. An expert checked it out for us and advised us that it would soon become dangerous, so it had to be cut down. We've left the base as a feature. Other less drastic work will be taking place to keep trees in the main woodland in good order. (Photo by Isabel Ryan)

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Report of work morning 11/01/09

We spent a good morning coppicing, removing excess growth of self-seeded ash. We noticed some young trees whose bark had been stripped by deer - see photo. There was a good attendance - thanks to everyone who helped.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Work morning Sunday 11 January - come and join in!

On Sunday we're going to be doing coppicing - traditional woodland management - and some other maintenance tasks.

Please come and help, no experience necessary. We're meeting at the Shire Way gate at 10.00 am. You'll need to wear suitable footwear and warm clothing. Tools will be provided.

You can ring Paul for details on 01454 315851, or just turn up on the day.

Picture taken from Wyre Borough Council's Rural Skills pages.