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.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Excellent Guardian article - Confusing year of weather for Britain's wildlife

We thought our readers would be interested in this review of the year from  a wildlife perspective. Apparently it's been a boom year for the grey seal, large blue butterfly and mining bee but bad news for frogs, toads and newts.

We know we've seen butterflies still active locally within the last month, but unlike the Guardian report, fungi at Wapley are doing well.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Season's greetings to all our readers

Best wishes to all our readers from everyone in the Wapley Bushes Conservation Group.

Thank you for all your help this year that keeps the Wapley Bushes Local Nature Reserve thriving and such an asset for local wildlife.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Report from Wapley Work Morning 19 November

Our November workday allowed us to tackle a range of planting. 14 volunteers took part, and we The group planted over 60 climbing plants of two types, ivy and wild clematis, on the reserve boundary. These plants will provide food, shelter and nesting material for birds when the climbers settle in and grow larger.

The group also planted 4 species of wildflowers on the woodland floor in the Western Wood including 50 native bluebell plug plants, 30 wild garlic bulbs, 30 wood anemone bulbs and 40 wild snowdrop bulbs. In addition to providing a spectacular display of flowers in the late winter and spring, these plants will also provide an early source of nectar and pollen for native insect species.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Spectacular Westonbirt Enchanted Christmas 2011

Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings from 25 Nov - 18 Dec 2011

The Enchanted Christmas will return this year with a new illuminated trail route through the Old Arboretum and more exciting festive activities, foods and stalls onsite. The costs are adults £9, concessions £8, children £5.

You can book in advance online or call 03000 680400 (booking fee applies). You can also buy tickets onsite from the Forest Shop.

The hard paths are accessible for wheelchairs and electric scooters and these can be booked in advance by calling 01666 881218. Please note that dogs are not allowed on the trail.

On Fridays, Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum will receive a 50% discount on the full ticket price. Children (under 19s) accompanying parent/guardian members go free. 

Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening from 25 November - 18 December 2011 at  Westonbirt Arboretum, A433, 3 miles south west of Tetbury, Gloucestershire, GL8 8QS, 5.00pm to 8.30pm with the last entry at 7.15pm.

Click the links to find out more about Enchanted Christmas  and the National Arboretum in general.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Wapley Bushes Workday, Saturday 19 November

This workday will be a morning of planting bluebells and clematis in the Western Wood, plus some general maintenance work and tidying up the reserve prior to the winter season. Please wear walking or wellington boots and bring some gloves.

Meet at the Shire Way entrance gate, South Yate, 10.00am.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A lovely autumn day at Wapley Bushes

Pears at bottom of Lower Meadow
What a lovely Sunday we had! It had all the signs of our mixed seasons - on a walk round the Nature Reserve I saw ripe pears and apples, as what must be the last butterfly of the year fluttered past.

And then, at the top of the woodland, I caught a brief glimpse of a deer, leaping away into the undergrowth. About chest-high on me, it was too big to be a muntjac. I was close enough to get a reasonable look, but it was too quick for me to photograph. Based on the size and colour of its coat, I think it was probably a roe deer.
Apples at top of Lower Meadow, near Chris's Bridge

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ridge Wood Owl Prowl, Thursday 27 October

This popular family Owl Prowl event is back again in 2011 with bird of prey expert Ian McGuire who will guide us round the woods. Please wear warm clothes and bring a torch. Please do not bring any dogs to this event (even if on a lead).

Meet at the southern Quarry Road entrance to Ridge Wood, Quarry Road, Chipping Sodbury at 7.00pm.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Lower Woods Guided Autumn Colour Walk, Sunday 23 October

A seasonal guided walk around Lower Woods nature reserve, taking in the different aspects, landscapes and wildlife of this huge, fascinating and diverse ancient woodland. The route will be about 2.5 miles long, and will follow the narrow and occasionally steep paths along the stream. The woods will be muddy and slippery in places so please wear suitable footwear.

Meet at Lower Woods Nature Reserve, Inglestone Common, east of Wickwar, South Gloucestershire (OS Grid Reference: ST 746881, postcode: GL9 1BY), 2.00pm - 4.00pm.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Kingsgate Park Ponds Workday, Saturday 8 October

We shall undertaking maintenance of this important amphibian site including the cutting back of vegetation. Please wear gloves and wellington boots.

Meet at the Scott Way entrance to Kingsgate Park, Scott Way, Yate 10.00am.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The rooks are getting territorial again!

Our local rooks tend to get very protective of their territory when it gets close to the nesting season, but they've started extra early this year.

Walking round Wapley this afternoon, I was out on the Common when I heard the rooks calling and saw the full squadron launch. I immediately thought "Buzzard alert!", and I was right - a few seconds later a pair of buzzards appeared above the wood, being mobbed by the rooks.

One buzzard fled immediately, but the other was inexperienced enough to try to stick around. It soon realised the error of its ways! A rook is very agile and can very nearly turn within the wingspan of a buzzard. An outnumbered buzzard is not going to be successful.

Actually this was slightly different from previous occasions - the rooks were using different tactics. I normally see the rooks zooming up towards high-flying buzzards, but this time they got above the buzzards and were forcing them down towards the tree canopy where they wouldn't be able to manouvre easily. Isn't nature fascinating?

Go batty with the BBC!

A BBC Autumnwatch film crew are coming along next Wednesday to the bat walk at Goose Green at 7pm. They wish to film the walk and interview participants. They are hoping to get people to ask wildlife related questions to the camera which will then be aired during the Autumnwatch ‘unsprung’ show, where the questions will hopefully be answered by the team.

We are therefore hoping for a good turnout of local people and a handful of questions to ask. Here's what South Glos say about the bat walk:

"Walk around Goose Green Fields and along the River Frome in search of our magical native bats that can eat up to 3000 insects a night! Meet at the site entrance off Oak Close, Yate. 7pm to 9pm.

Free event! Children should be accompanied by an adult. Please wear sensible footwear and warm clothing. Bring a torch. No dogs allowed.

For more information call ✆ 01454 863592 text 07950 080 111”

Monday, September 12, 2011

Go batty with THREE local bat walks this month

  • Tuesday 20th September, 7pm – 9pm. Ridge Wood & the River Frome - meet at Jubilee Park, Chipping Sodbury BS37 6BQ
  • Thursday 22nd September, 7pm – 9pm. Yate Common - meet at main entrance of the Road to Nowhere BS37 8RZ
  • Wednesday 28th September, 7pm – 9pm. Goose Green Fields, Yate
More details on the South Glos website here

Friday, September 09, 2011

Lower Woods Dormouse Safari - Sunday 25 September

This will be a guided two mile walk around Lower Woods nature reserve with dormouse surveyors Gef and Genny Lucena who have been studying the dormouse populations of Lower Woods. There will be the opportunity to learn about coppice management and to watch dormouse box inspections. Places are limited and so advance booking is essential on 01452 383333 quoting booking code 11SAF. Directions to the meeting point will be sent upon booking.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Report from Wapley work morning 4th September

We had an excellent work morning today. Around 15 of us pitched in and achieved a lot. Our main target was to clear out the leaf mould and debris from the small stream that runs down through the middle of the main wood. It may not look much, but when it rains hard the water really flows. If we didn't clean out the stream it would overflow and destroy the adjoining habitat, in particular affecting a very rare species of sedge.

We did a litter-pick right round the Woodland and the Common, and we were pleased to see that there was less litter than we expected. We checked out the new orchard trees, and these seem to be doing well apart from from some damage by wandering goats (!) - we've been assured that the goats have now been relocated toa field further away.

We cut back trees that have been intruding onto the woodland paths, which was very much needed due to the amount of growth because of the wet weather. We'll have to return to this task on another work morning because there are patches of dense bramble that will need to be attacked with slashers, rather than the croppers and bowsaws we were using today to clear the woody branches.

A big thank you goes to everyone who took part, both the regulars and the people who were taking part for the first time - we hope you enjoyed yourselves undertaking this very valuable work!

Our next Wapley work morning will be on Saturday 19 November - please watch this blog for details of Wapley and other events.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Work at footbridge over railway to Wapley Bushes

On Wed 31 August  Network Rail will be carrying out survey work for electrifying the railway line, so they will be digging a couple of test trenches in the approach slopes to Sergeant's Farm Bridge.

Despite the warning notices the footpath will not need to be closed, so you can still get across from Shire Way to Wapley Bushes. Network Rail will also attend to the sunken patches in the path near the Radar Gate when they reinstate the survey trenches.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

How do you like our new design?

I thought it was about time this blog had a more modern design. Please let us know what you think (our contact details are in the right hand column)

Bat Walk on Yate Common, 22 September

Walk around the Common and its woodlands in search of bats. Meet at main entrance of the Road to Nowhere. Thursday 22/09/2011 7pm to 9pm.

And have you seen the new Friends of Yate Common blog?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Wapley Bushes Work Morning - Sunday 4 September

This workday will be our annual stream clearance where we hope to clear the central watercourse through the main woodland. This work is required to preserve the habitat of the rare local thin-spiked wood sedge. You are welcome to come along and please wear walking or wellington boots and bring some gloves. Meet at the Shire Way entrance to the woodland, South Yate, 10.00am.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Butterflies in the Meadow

Isabel Ryan took these lovely photos during the Wapley Wander:

This wide shot shows the richness of the meadow, which is what attracts the butterflies and other insects.

This close-up of a pair of marbled whites shows clearly that the markings on the underside of the wings are different from the tops.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Coastal Fossil Hunt Saturday - 23 July

A tour along our very own local Jurassic Coast at Aust with our expert guide Mr Chris Townson. As we are by the coast we might even see some of the descendants of dinosaurs themselves - wading birds! Bring a magnifying glass if you have one, and please wear stout footwear. Meet for a car share at the Clock Tower, High Street, Chipping Sodbury, 1.30pm (Parking available in the Wickwar Road car park)

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Wapley Bushes Summer/Autumn Newsletter now online

Click here for the Wapley Bushes Summer/Autumn 2011 Newsletter with details of wildlife events on the Nature Reserve and in our area.

Update 22/08/2011: Please note that the Ridge Wood Autmn Quest event on 15 October has been cancelled.

Monday, July 04, 2011

A butterfly's eye view of the Lower Meadow at Wapley

Report from Wapley Wander 3 July 2011

Part of the group looking at the flora in the Top Meadow

An enthusiastic group of walkers met yesterday afternoon for a tour of the Nature Reserve. The meadows were full of wild flowers and butterflies - if you haven't visited them lately, catch them now before the flowers set seed and the meadows are mown shortly. There are over 70 wildflower and grass species present in the rich Lower Meadow including many species that are beneficial for insects, including black knapweed, devil's bit scabious and betony. We saw one species of orchid on the day, te common spotted orchid, but we know that there are others which have already gone over. The Top Meadow also had a great collection of grasshoppers and crickets - as we walked through the grass they would explode away from where we were about to tread.

The main Wapley Wood has just been declared an Ancient Woodland by English Nature, meaning that it's over 400 years old, so we talked about the traditional woodland management techniques that we still use today, such as hedgelaying, coppicing and dead-hedging. We also explored the importance of drainage - our ditches and the underground stream - and historic concepts such as the bank and ditch system, and people being able to take wood "by hook or by crook".

We showed off our big projects from the past year, as mentioned previously on this blog - the new path up the Ride, the hedgelaying in the Lower Meadow, and the Orchard for the Future on the Common. We also mentioned our long-term planning and some ideas we have for improving habitat to attract owls.

Thanks to everybody who came. Please follow the links above to find out more about what we've been doing on the Reserve.

Burnet moths doing what comes naturally on the Common

Monday, June 27, 2011

Wildlife and history walk at Wapley - Sunday 3 July 2pm

Natural England has recently declared that Wapley Bushes is an Ancient Woodland - that means it's more than 400 years old.

To celebrate, there's a guided walk through the woods and meadows on Sunday. The meadows are currently full of wild flowers and butterflies. The walk will also showcase some of the major projects that the Wapley Bushes Conservation Group has undertalken over the past year.

Everyone welcome - meeting at the Shire Way gate, next to the zebra crossing. Please wear suitable footwear.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Another successful Duck Race

A big thank you to everyone who helped maintain the ancient tradition of duck herding on the River Frome this afternoon, at the Chipping Sodbury Festival Duck Races in aid of the Wildlife Trust.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Report from work morning 8 May

A long overdue report from our last workday (pressure of work!)

Building up the dead-hedge

We carried out a variety of tasks. The big job was clearing up a quantity of branches that local vandals had chopped down in the Centenary Wood ready for setting fires, and tidying up the butchered trees. We then took the branches down to the edge of the main woodland facing the Lower Meadow, and used them to build up the dead-hedge.

Dead-hedging, in other words weaving branches between stakes driven into the ground, is a traditional way of creating a natural-looking barrier that also acts as a habitat for small creatures. In time ground plants may grow up over the dead-hedge.

We also cut back some vegetation on the paths, gathered up some litter and cut back the grass around the new fruit trees on the Common.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A fun afternoon at the races (duck races, that is!)

Please join us on Sunday 19 June for the annual Chipping Sodbury Festival Duck Race on the River Frome, in aid of the Wildlife Trust.

Why not come along, have a flutter, and join us for an afternoon of races, a cup of tea and a doughnut? Great fun for all the family!

You are very welcome to come along and bring a picnic to enjoy in the park.

The races start from 2.00pm in Jubilee Park, Quarry Road, Chipping Sodbury.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011

Wapley Bushes Work Morning - Sunday 8 May

This workday will be a general checking of the state of the woodland, meadows and paths before the summer. We will also be doing a litter pick round the reserve as well. You are welcome to come along on what we hope will be a warm and pleasant walk and please do wear walking or wellington boots
and bring some gloves.

Meet at the Shire Way entrance to the reserve at 10.00am.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Goose Green Spring Clean - Sunday 10 April

As part of our commitment to this local grassland and wetland nature reserve we shall be undertaking reserve maintenance such as path clearance and a general reserve tidy up. Please wear walking or wellington boots and bring some gloves.

Meet on the main Greenways Road, just north of the entrance to Oak Close, North Yate, 10.00am.

Friday, March 25, 2011

What were YOU doing on Mothers Day 1994?

Wapley Bushes Conservation Group is trying to locate local people who took part in a mass planting on Sunday 13 March 1994. In just one morning 80 people – half of them children – planted 800 trees to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of Dodington Parish Council. It was an event called ‘Plant a Tree for Mothers Day’.

“Many of the trees planted in 1994 are now twenty feet tall” said Cllr Paul Hulbert, a member of Wapley Bushes Conservation Group.

“We’re planning a very special planting on Mothers Day next year – March 18th 2012 – to create a hedge on the edge of the Centenary Wood, so we would love to locate some of the original parents and particularly children who took part in the original planting so long ago”

“We would be grateful if anyone who remembers taking part could contact us by phoning Dodington Parish Council on 01454 866546 or emailing dodingtonpc@southglos.gov.uk

Wildlife Trust Coffee Morning & Book Sale - Saturday 9 April

You are most welcome to come and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee, a slice of home made cake and have a browse through our varied selection of books that we shall be offering for sale. All monies raised will go to wildlife conservation projects in the Avon Valley area. If you can provide any books or cakes for
this day, please contact Malcolm on 01454 310328.

The Baptist Church, High Street, Chipping Sodbury, 10.00am to midday.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Kingsgate Park work day

The Friends of Kingsgate Park have recently been successful in winning a South Glos Council grant of £1200 towards replacing some of the fencing along the Scott Way end of the park.

The Friends are having a workday to bolt on some of the new pales on Saturday 26th March, 10.00am – 12.00, meeting at the double gates on the Scott Way side of the park.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Orchard planting a resounding success

Claire Young and Paul Hulbert with the volunteers of the Wapley Bushes Conservation Group
Wapley Bushes Conservation Group have called their latest planting day on Sat 12 March "a resounding success" as more than 40 trees were planted, forming a new Community Orchard on Wapley Common and nearby.

The trees on the Common are all local types of apple, plus a few plums of a rare local variety.

"It's good to do something so traditional yet so future-looking", said Dodington Parish Cllr Paul Hulbert, who organised the event. "We're very grateful to expert Graham White - known locally as Mr Fruit - who guided us through the planting"

South Gloucestershire Cllr Claire Young commented "This was a great way to spend a beautiful spring morning - fresh air, good company and exercise with a legacy that should last years"

The planting was jointly funded by Dodington Parish Council and South Gloucestershire Council.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Successful planting morning!

We had a very successful planting session on Saturday, planting 130 trees to fill gaps along the newly-laid hedge - half was hawthorn, and the rest was a mixture of dogwood, field maple, guelder rose, alder buckthorn, wayfaring tree and wild pear.

Many thanks to all the volunteers who came. Please remember that we've got another work morning next Saturday (12 March) planting our Orchard for the Future - we're meeting at 10.00 am at the Shire Way gate as usual. We hope to see you there.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Planting an Orchard for the Future - Saturday 12 March

Please come and help Wapley Bushes Conservation Group members and friends plant some groups of fruit trees on Wapley Common next Saturday, 12 March.

We aim to create a community orchard - an "Orchard for the Future", if you like - where in years to come our children and grandchildren will be able to come and pick delicious fruit straight from the trees.

The project is being funded by Dodington Parish Council and South Gloucestershire Council, but the labour is all being provided by local volunteers. The planting session will start with a workshop led by local supplier “Mr Fruit” (Graham White)

We shall be meeting at the Shire Way gate to the Nature Reserve, next to the zebra crossing near Cherington, at 10.00 am. It would be helpful if you could bring a spade and gloves, if you have them, and you should wear suitable footwear.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Wapley Bushes Work Morning - Saturday 5 March

Today we shall be meeting on a Saturday to allow some of our members who cannot join us on a Sunday to come along and join us in our ongoing reserve conservation work. We hope to start our plans to reinvigorate a recently laid hedgerow by planting up new whips in the gaps. This will help to provide an improved habitat, shelter and food source for wildlife. Please wear stout footwear.

Meet at the Shire Way entrance to the reserve, 10.00am.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Southwold Spring Walk - Saturday 26 February

We shall be going to the Cromhall area of the county to look for some of our early spring favourites such as snowdrops. We shall also be looking out for birds on the wing and in hedges and we shall be admiring the scenery too so why not come and join us? This walk will be relatively short.

Please wear walking boots or other stout footwear. Meet for a car share at the Clock Tower, High Street, Chipping Sodbury, 1.30pm.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Community Orchard Planting, Chipping Sodbury - Saturday 12 February

This workday, organised by the St John's Park Conservation Group, will be a joint work morning with Chipping Sodbury in Bloom to plant some fruit trees to create a community orchard.

Please meet on the bridge over the River Frome on Wickwar Road, opposite the car park, 10.00am - 12.00pm.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Wildlife Quiz Night Live! - Friday 18 February

This is your chance to have some fun and pick a team of Eggheads and bring them along to our general knowledge quiz. We have found this to be a very popular event and you are most welcome make up a team name and bring your own snacks and beverages. We will also be serving tea and coffee for you in the break.

Quiz teams are usually made up of four players at a cost of £2 each per person. Please contact Malcolm on 01454 310328 to book your team's place.

The Old Grammar School, High Street, Chipping Sodbury, 7.30pm.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Timber! A successful January workday

Many hands make light work, as they say. We had 14 volunteers at today's Wapley Bushes workday. Our plan was to create a range of micro-habitats in the Western Wood. The Western Wood was planted some 20 years ago and had never been thinned, so we concentrated on three areas to increase the biodiversity as recommended in the Management Plan.

Following Forestry Commission guidelines we carried out some selective felling to open up a glade just off the Ride, allowing light through and encouraging ground flora.

Along the diagonal path we cleared a number of semicircular areas that will provide warm, still air conditions for our many species of butterfly.

Finally we cut back a lot of intrusive brambles and overgrowth at the entrance from the Ride to the Western Wood to improve public access and let more light through to ground level.

Many thanks to all the volunteers who came today - all your hard work will pay dividends later in the year!

Monday, January 03, 2011

Wapley Bushes Work Morning - Sunday 23 January

This workday will involve practical woodland management work such as tree and shrub planting. This will help to enhance the biodiversity of this precious nature reserve. Please wear walking or wellington boots and bring some gloves.

Meet at the Shire Way entrance to the woodland, South Yate, 10.00am.