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.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Below the surface

A lot goes on at Wapley Bushes Local Nature Reserve between workdays. Members of the committee and friends walk the Reserve regularly, tidying up and clipping back overgrowth. Dodington Parish Council's handyman and street warden visit to clear litter, especiall after busy weekends.

Other "unseen" work includes monitoring the fruit trees and treating them with traditional remedies as necessary. Members of the public report any problems they find on the Reserve, and the Committee or the Parish Council try to deal with them as quickly as possible.

We also do a monthly photo shoot right round the Reserve, the Common and the Orchard - we've now got an archive of digital photos going back to January 2003. This allows us to monitor how things develop month by month, and to compare different years at the same time.

Sometimes the photo survey produces surprises - these plate-sized bracket fungi have appeared in the last month. We know where they usually appear each year, so we keep a look out every time we walk round to see whether they've arrived yet.

All this information feeds into our management of the Reserve. The Five Year Management Plan is being revised at the moment by a professional ecological consultant, and he will be making recommendations that form the basis of the work we undertake on work mornings or commission contractors to carry out.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Last chance to see

The meadows will be mown fairly shortly, and we're getting to the end of the butterfly season. So if you want to see Wapley at its summer best, take advantage of a sunny day and head over to see what you can find.

Here are a couple of butterflies on their favourite plant, black knapweed:

Marbled white
Meadow Brown

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Success again for Wapley Bushes

Wapley Bushes Local Nature Reserve and the Orchard for the Future have won the Green Flag Community Award for the third year running - the only Green Flag Award in South Gloucestershire.

The Green Flag Award scheme recognises quality parks or green spaces. In total, 1,582 parks, cemeteries, universities, shopping centres and community gardens in the UK have met the high standard needed to receive the Green Flag Award or the Green Flag Community Award.

The Green Flag Awards are judged by an army of more than 700 green space experts, who volunteer their time to visit applicant sites and assess them against eight strict criteria, including horticultural standards, cleanliness, sustainability and community involvement. The Green Flag Awards Scheme is run by the environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy.

Obviously Wapley Bushes Conservation Group, who manage the Reserve, and landowners Dodington Parish Council are very pleased with this success. They are now looking forward to hearing the results of their South West in Bloom award entries.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Working in the wet - 12 July workday

On a very wet morning half a dozen of us carried out some essential maintenance tasks on the reserve. The bushes alongside the paths have been growing at an incredible rate, at least a foot a month. We split into several working parties and carved our way through the jungle to try to keep all the paths walkable.

Meanwhile we also did some light summer pruning of the stoned fruit trees, and checked round the apple trees as well - we think we're going to have an apple crop on the Common this year.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Harvesting the meadow

Part of our haul of rattle seed
Four of us spent a couple of hours at Wapley on Wednesday collecting hay rattle (yellow rattle) seeds. This plant has large seeds, and if you pick the seed pods when they have dried and shake them, you can hear the seeds rattle.

Rattle is an interesting plant - it's a hemi-parasite. It has green leaves that can photosynthesise, but it can tap into grass roots and draw nutrient from them, which weakens the grass.

Up at the top of the Lower Meadow we have an area where the grass is so vigorous that few wildflowers can take hold. Our idea is that by sowing small patches of rattle there we can weaken the grass and encourage species diversity. It'll be an interesting experiment - we're starting to play with GPS to record where we do things like this.

We're also wondering whether hay rattle can feed off the root systems of the invasive plant meadowsweet - perhaps this could be a way of bringing it more under control.

In more news from the reserve, the areas that were seeded after they were damaged by vehicles turning are showing a lovely crop of annuals - the perennials will come along later.

The patch at the bridge end of the Common, on the orchard side
 In the cottages part of the orchard, the climbing rose that we trained up the dead plum tree has shot upwards, and is now in bloom.

Please come and join us at our work morning this Sunday (12 July) - meet at 10.00 am at the Shire Way gate for a couple of hours of light stoned fruit tree pruning and general maintenance tasks. As usual there will be something for everyone. Please wear suitable footwear and bring gloves if you have them.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Wapley Bushes Summer Fruit Tree Pruning morning Sunday 12 July

Please come and join us for a pleasant summer work morning - nothing too strenuous!

As well as pruning stoned fruit trees such as plums and gages, we shall also be attending to odd jobs on the reserve. There will be something for everyone!

Meet at the Shire Way entrance to the woodland, south Yate, BS37 8US, 10.00am.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Wapley Guided walk explores "orchid alley"

Sixteen wildlife enthusiasts, including a group of visitors from the Cabot Group of the Wildlife Trust in Bristol, explored Wapley's meadows and woodlands last weekend. We found three of Wapley's five species of orchids and many other meadow flowers. Then we went into the woodland and talked about the challenge of ash dieback disease and how the Wapley Bushes Conservation Group is planning to cope with it. Finally we visited the Orchard for the Future, where local varieties of fruit trees (ones you can't buy in the shops) have been planted on one side of Wapley Common.

It's not surprising they call it a bee orchid!