A small group, six adults and two children, made the usual tour of the parish looking for as many bird species as could be identified; both by sight and call. It has been very noticeable that there have been very few Swallows this year. They migrate to Britain over the Sahara from South Africa and travel in daylight up to 200 miles a day. Being such a small bird they are sensitive to changes and can be affected badly by storms, very dry or very wet conditions and food availability. Their reduced numbers have been been noted throughout Europe. On the other hand, there were a good number of Wrens calling all around the parish. It’s likely that the relatively mild winter has aided their survival rate.
A total of 42 species were identified (in the order they were seen or heard)….
Greater Spotted Woodpecker
The next (Winter) bird survey will take place in early 2020, the date of which will be arranged this Autumn. Keep an eye on Forthcoming Events above and in the next Newsletter.
Rose briars are bearing strange fruit this time of year. It would seem that the lazy owner of the dog that resulted it this ought to be on his, or her, lead. It’s a shame that all dog owners can’t be responsible people. As with football hooligans; it’s the actions of a minority that gives the rest a bad name.
Ox Close is a nature reserve. Our activities and aims are for the enhancement of nature and the enjoyment of the public. Please respect our wishes…. dogs must be ona lead and clean up any mess.
December 2nd: Children from the local communities learned how to sow wild flower seeds, some for their own gardens and some for the Methodist church wild flower garden project . The children collected seed heads from a variety of wild flowers and examined the differences between the seeds. Using our tried and tested method, which has been acquired by previous experience using seeds from plants within our Nature Reserves in East Keswick, they carefully sowed seeds from a selection of plants.
One of our members works for Network Rail and, on 26th October, he organised a “Corporate Event” in Ox Close with his colleagues. The day was a great success. The day started by filling and lighting one of the charcoal kilns and other activitied included moving logs and using the stock trailer to round up the cows from the Marsh to transfer them to the wood. The burn produced a respectable 41 bags of charcoal.
The kiln is nearly ready for lighting
The Dexters are moved to Ox Close for a few weeks.
On the 18th February we held our annual winter bird survey and recorded 53 species of birds. No Curlew or Lapwings were seen this year but new for the winter bird survey were Little Owl, Mute Swan and Blackcap. The Blackcap is usually regarded as a summer visitor but, with recent warmer winters, our local birds are able to remain in the area along with others that have migrated southwards from the north.
The RSPB’s State of Nature Report, 2016, states 56% of UK species are in decline. We have found that the built-up areas of our villages their gardens, hedgerows, trees and flowers provide valuable habitats for these declining species. In fact, our ten years of annual bird recording have shown that we have a good variety of bird species in the village. This is in contrast to the surrounding area’s intensively farmed land. Whilst some landowners are sympathetic, modern farming practices provide little in the way of suitable habitat, food or shelter.
2017/18 Winter Bird Survey
Our Summer Bird Survey is on 17th June. Please join us. Check out the Upcoming Events box above.
Over 50 people spent a glorious sunny afternoon on Saturday constructing a bug hotel under the guidance of East Keswick Wildlife Trust.
The event was hosted by East Keswick Methodist Church on Main Street, East Keswick, with the luxury accommodation for insects being built in the garden behind the church. Melanie Smith from East Keswick Wildlife Trust explained the importance of creating suitable habitat so that the vast variety of insects we are lucky enough to have can thrive. The children then used various natural materials to make a five storey, five star hotel for insects.
Melanie said “It was wonderful to see how enthusiastic the children were and we hope they will go home and make similar habitats in their own gardens.”
After the hotel had been built, the families enjoyed refreshments before tackling a nature hunt. The bug hotel is the first event of many in a programme to create a wildlife haven at the rear of the church involving the local community. The next joint event is a wildflower identification walk on 10 June and then, in the Autumn, seeds will be gathered and sown in pots so that young plants are ready to plant out next Spring to create a wildflower garden. Members of the public are most welcome to visit the garden at any time.
For the first time since the 18th century, cows are grazing in Ox Close Wood!
The cows will graze the paddock for a few weeks after which they will go to another reserve to continue their conservation grazing.
Once part of the Common lands of EastKeswick, Ox Close was a wood pasture where wood and timber could be cut and extracted during the winter months and animals grazed during the summer by the Commoners of the village – usually the most prominent residents. By the end of the 18th century, the management of Common lands was deemed inefficient so increasing numbers of individual parish Parliamentary Enclosure Acts were passed to provide the legal framework for privatisation. All Commoners rights to graze in Ox Close ceased at the beginning of 19th century on the enclosure of East Keswick when the wood became part of the Harewood Estate.
The photos show three cows, each with a calf being let into the wood. Because Clarita (below) has horns, she had to be transported separated from her calf and separately from the other cows.
Clarita walks out of the trailer, looking for her friends.