Archive for March, 2011

Our Story so far – February

Our Story so far – February

Willow tunnel

John and Jim started the year working on the Willow tunnel. They added a support frame and planted more Willow wippets. More plantings using the Willows in Maypole wood are planned in the next few weeks. This is really beginning to take shape. They also performed a litter patrol and removed two bags of rubbish.

New Copse planting

Paul Bamber of Mersey Forest took Cavendish special school 6th form (17yr olds) to do some planting for the purpose of Friends of Griffin Wood later using for coppicing. It included a couple of species of willow as well as dogwood and hazel. It is right next to the small car park just past the sets of bollards near the nursery. It was the first time many of the group had done some planting (and even digging) and they loved being out in the fresh air interacting with the environment and seeing the positive impact that they had made. It was also a chance for them to learn about coppicing ‘hands on’.

Bird survey and Litter picking

Bird survey group

Are you sure that was a Golden Eagle

The group started off the month with a bird survey that tied in with the ‘Big Garden Birdwatch’ organised by the RSPB. During our allocated hour we spotted a wide range of birds using our binoculars and a spotting scope. The spotting scope really helped to ID the birds in the rather flat light. Our birding list were :- Buzzard, Goldfinch, Robin, Starlings, Yellow Hammers, Corn Bunting, Sparrow, Great tits, Blue tits, Long tail tits, Pheasant, Magpie, Woodpeckers and of course Pigeons. These were reported to the Big Garden Bird Watch and also to the Merseyside Biobank. We then had a general wander around the site removing litter and some chewed up tree guards.

Tree transplant

The friends were joined by a very friendly group of lads from St Helens Chamber on the 1st February and they did a great job of helping us clear out the tree nursery. The whips that were removed included Ash, Oak, Birch, Cherry and Scots pine.  These will now be distributed around some of the many sites that The Mersey Forest team have been asked to help plant up this season. The cleared nursery can now be used for further projects including the willow tunnel. We also took the opportunity to begin hammering staples into all the bridges within the old wood. These had become quite slippery over the wet winter months.

Tree rescue

Fitting a tree guard

The strong winds early in the month were playing havoc with our newly planted coppice area, even blowing the guards off in some cases. So a tree rescue and staking was organised for a bright but cold Wednesday afternoon. Soon all the trees were standing proud again with new guards and stakes provided by the Mersey Forest team. Apparently the young hollies were very tasty to the rabbits and so bigger guards were fitted and hopefully they will recover.

Thinning using a Yorkshire billhook

Thinning using a Yorkshire billhook

Tree Felling using Hand tools course

The FOGW attended a course on tree felling using just hand tools. The course was run by the BTCV at Stadt Moers park. It was a very good course showing the best way to bring down trees and stripping them in a safe and controlled manner, using both bow saws and Yorkshire billhooks. It also explained the reasons for such felling and the need to clear up after, such as tree thinning to allow air to circulate etc. As a bonus a few leaning white poplars were felled and saved the Stadt Moers volunteers some work and time.

Stream clearing

Stream clearing - Dig the gloves

Stream clearance

It was decided that some of our streams were getting a bit clogged in some places and so thinking that February would be good time before the brambles claimed the banks, we arranged a full day of stream busting. Little did we know that it would persistently rain all night and the streams would be in full flow. So armed with rakes and waders we set to work. A large area was cleared mostly of fallen leaves caught on brambles and our new storm kettle gave us a welcome hot drink thanks to Rebbeca. By the end of the day the flow was greatly improved but more work is still needed, but hopefully we will have more pairs of waders and the water will be lower.

Stream clearing 2

Stream clearing