Archive for the ‘Previous projects’ Category

The Magic of Ponds

The British apparently are a nation of pond lovers.  Almost 1 in 10 gardens has a pond and there are now approximately 2 million of them, providing a haven for water wildlife and plants in urban and rural areas.  However, sadly, natural ponds are disappearing from our wider countryside at ever increasing rates as a result of pollution and draining from modern agricultural practises  and infilling.

Living and breathing on its own, a pond can offer residence and refuge to a wide range of amphibians and aquatic creatures and a place for thirspond1ty birds and other small visitors to stop and drink.  Much pond life is only present in a pond for a short period of time.  Many invertebrates stay there only as a dormant egg, nymphs or in other inactive life stages.  Other animals will just stop and use a pond like a service station, to stop at for a while to relax and refuel.  Fish are obvious residents but amphibians, birds, reptiles and mammals are in most cases transient visitors.  Bats and swallows often grab a bite to eat in the form of a freshly hatched insects from the water as they swoop and speed around a site.  Also, in the “slow lane” are the pond snails that take their time consuming other insects at the bottom of a pond.  Herons will stand still at the side of a pond watching and waiting until some tasty snack catches their eye and they will quickly strike down at it you with their long beak.  If stood quietly near a pond, you may be lucky enough to see a splash of bright turquoise and organge zipping into and out of the water in the blink of your eye, this will have been a kingfisher which may be catching fish or newts.

pond2 Is this article tempting you to go and get acquainted with your local pond?  Are you wishing you had a pond yourself to go and explore?  Would you and/or your family like an exciting activity to do together this weekend?  If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then The Mersey Forest can help you out!!  We are holding a free “Pond Exploration” course this Saturday, the 10th, with talks and guidance from 10-1pm at the Leaf Centre on Four Acre Lane (St Helens), our usual meeting point.  Then we will be spending the afternoon out exploring Griffin Wood’s ponds, undertaking surveys and putting all the pond creature i.d you will have learnt in the morning into practice all afternoon!

Please call The Mersey Forest team to book your place before Saturday morning 01925 816217

Griffin Wooden sculptures star in Walk in the Woods month

The upcoming guided walk to see the new sculptures at Griffin Wood takes place next week – 2pm, Tuesday 25th May, meeting on site at 1.45.  This is part of Walk in the Woods month, a national Tree Council initiative which will see thousands of people enjoying the spring fresh air this May. You can find out what else is going on in St.Helens and further afield at the ‘Walk in the Woods month in The Mersey Forest’ mini-website.

Please email helen.collins@merseyforest.org.uk to confirm your place.

But before all that don’t forget the next Friends of Griffin Wood meeting! Details here.

Something’s happening in the woods!

If you go down to Griffin Wood today……………….. you will see a trail of new wooden sculptures created just for you!  We can’t guarantee teddy bears but the 5 newly installed sculptures will hopefully surprise you, in a good way and do feature other creatures.  The sculptures were created at last month’s Wood Works festival by the top 5 chainsaw artists in the country (according to an official poll from Helen Collins, the organiser of the festival!!) and are a Green Man, with his eyes closed (surely not in a dream like state?), situated directly across the fields from Dream carved by Tim Burgess; the trail then moves onto “Bryan”, a very friendly snail crawling out of the old wood to greet walkers, made by Julian Taylor (creator of the bench referred to below).  Following the trail along the paths, you are then greeted by the superb “Miner Bird” – which is a fine blend of industry and wildlife by Nigel McQuilton from P.N Tree Services based in Warrington.  This sculpture is located directly opposite the Fiddlers Ferry power station and links the coal mining heritage of the local area with the pick axe and miners’ helmet to the wildlife to be found at Griffin Wood with the bird of prey sat on the axe.  This site is home to many birds of prey including pairs of Kestrels and Buzzards. 

You may want to take a few minutes out to sit back and enjoy the scenery and there is no better place than the excellent rabbit warren seat, located next to one of the beautiful ponds, where you can settle back and really feel you are part of the warren.  This piece  was created by Simon O Rourke.  Last but not least is “Try” – the hand on the rugby ball, this is quite symbolic as this sculpture is incredibly smooth and does make you want to run your hands all over it!  This was carved by Andy Burgess .  Rabbit WarrenSnail

These sculptures were installed at Griffin Wood by Tree Health Services, who also very kindly located and transported the wood for the sculptures to be carved from.rugby ball MLD_0188Miner birdTree Health Services

If you would like to join us for the official opening walk around the sculpture trail, this will take place on Tuesday 25th May, meeting on site from 2pm for an hour’s walk and talk around the site.

The Friends of Griffin Wood’s next meeting is being held at the Leaf Centre on Four Acre Lane on Thursday 29th April from 6.30pm, please do come and join us – this group needs people like YOU!

Un-earthing Clock Face’s roots – we need you!

panoramaDo you know your history or have a story to tell? We are hoping to discover more about the history of Clock Face and Bold for a new project at the woodland, and are appealing to all those ‘in the know’ to help in our quest.

A drop-in session is being held on Thursday 21st January 2010 at the cafe/reception area of the Leaf Centre (formerly Chester Lane Community Centre) from 4.30pm until 7pm, where we’d be really interested in meeting you to look at your old photos or newspapers, uncover stories of the area or learn about your family history in and around Clock Face and Bold.

People are invited to pop in for as long as they wish, be it a flying visit or a longer chat. For those unable to attend there will also be another event held in February half-term, or you can add a comment to this blog or contact Helen Collins at The Mersey Forest Offices on 01925 816217.

We hope to unearth enough information to potentially create a new guided walk with leaflets and interpretation boards around Griffin Wood, and also of course plan to feature the findings on this website.