Now it’s late Spring the countryside is full of flowers and our efforts during previous seasons are showing results:
Yellow Fish is a national Environment Agency project involving stencilling a Yellow Fish symbol beside surface water drains to remind us all that any waste entering them may go directly to the nearest stream, river, lake, canal, beach or bathing water, causing pollution and killing wildlife. Car washing solutions, engine oil, paints, chemical wastes, detergents and even litter entering these drains pollute our watercourses. Pollution can also be caused by ‘misconnected’ household pipework, where foul waste from toilets, washing machines, dishwashers, showers, baths and sinks can enter surface water drains.
The Trust is working with Bardsey Primary School on the Yellow Fish Campaign to raise awareness so do look out for the Yellow Fish symbol highlighting drains which feed directly into the beck. Be aware that, any fluid that goes into a surface water drain, whether it has a yellow fish logo or not, goes into the beck.
During the winter months, the eastern boundary of Ox Close wood has been cut back. Trees that were overhanging the field have been removed or trimmed back to allow more light to the field edge thereby benefitting any growing crops. To maintain a boundary a new hedge has been planted along this side of the wood. Thanks go to The Woodland Trust for supplying the plants, guards and supports.
Inspired by Ian Rotherham’s talk on Ancient Woodlands (see next post) we have been measuring some of the village’s oldest trees. These will go into a national database at www.ancient-tree-hunt.org.uk/project/hunt. The village hosts many large and ancient trees, mainly Oak and Ash.
At our AGM in May, the Trust commenced its 25 Years Anniversary. Professor Ian Rotherham gave a talk on Ancient Woodlands to which the village History Group were invited… our first combined event.
During the afternoon before the AGM, members of the Trust and the History Group accompanied Ian through Ox Close wood where given an enlightening aspect of the history of the wood. The rainy conditions did not dampen anyone’s enthusiasm!
During March, the bridleway down to the river was re-surfaced. The spoil that this work generated has been tipped to the sides of the bridleway and as a consequence has covered locally uncommon species of wild flowers. The Trust met up with the Footpath Officer (Groundwork) and the Parish Council to discuss this and other damage that was caused.
The marsh in East Keswick is grazed again for the first time in at least twenty five years. Trust volunteers completed fencing the marsh during March and the Dexter cattle which were introduced in May will be there for a short while to reduce the density of the dominant vegetation of Meadowsweet and Great Willow-herb. This will allow the more delicate wildflowers to re-establish themselves. The Marsh was last grazed before the houses of Keswick Grange and Church Drive were built.
On Monday May 8th the cubs took their 15 bird boxes to Ox Close Wood. They enjoyed the evening as they climbed short ladders to screw their boxes to well distributed trees.
During March, a group of Trust volunteers visited some Duke of Burgundy butterfly sites to do a bit of habitat maintenance. The food plants of this butterfly are Primroses and Cowslips. Scrub was cleared to allow light to penetrate to the ground to allow these plants, primroses in particular, to thrive.
Following this work members, along with other conservationists, returned in May to see the fruits of their labours and were rewarded with sightings of twenty adult Duke of Burgundy butterflies. Other butterflies seen were five Dingy Skippers, a Small Copper and a Red Admiral.
One the 3rd May we had our annual bluebell walk in Ox Close Wood. There’s always a bit of guesswork in planning the walk six months ahead in the hope that the flowers will be at their best. This year we got it spot on and the flowers were glorious. On average, during the 25 years of the Trust’s existence, this event has moved forward by two weeks!