We are now into our autumn/winter work party mode and this blog is well overdue! Unfortunately I have been suffered from some horrible lurgy this week, which has made me feel dizzy and cut off from the world – rather like being entombed in a cocoon.
It looks like the squirrels, jays and other wildlife relying on autumn’s bounty, are well provided for this year. These are the sweet chestnuts gathered from the copse off Roman Road. I can never resist collecting them even though cooking them seems hardly worth the effort. They are delicious though and somehow much more tasty when you have foraged them yourself.
Our first work party last month saw us cutting the wild flower areas – on the traffic island, around the gate and at the junction with Westwood Avenue.
There were only a few of us but with the use of Dudley Council machinery, we were able to collect all the cuttings, trying to ensure that the wild flowers had seeded. We have had so much great feedback from the project that we are hoping to extend the wild flower areas next year. In addition, we have all those betony plants.
Following the cutting of the Scarlet Tiger verge, the Alkanet has recovered well. I am hoping that the caterpillars are hibernating and/or hidden underground and that they were not inadvertently ‘culled’ by the cutting operation. I won’t know until next spring!
During our work party, we did come across several frogs including a couple on the traffic island itself. Hopefully this is an indication of the increase in insect life as a result of the wild flowers.
As I was returning home after September’s work party, I spotted a Red Admiral on the bramble by the steps. They have been taking advantage of the Indian summer and the ivy which provides such an important source of nectar at this time of year. Dave Grundy recommended checking the ivy at night by torchlight and sure enough I have found Angle Shade moths nectaring in the dark.
Looking ahead … our work parties are time-tabled for the 3rd Friday of the month, so our next one is tomorrow, Friday 21 October. The plan is to tidy up and prepare areas for planting – in particular the Scarlet Tiger banks which need clearing of coarse grass, bindweed, etc., with the aim of planting Primroses and Cowslips. Also there is a further area of Russian vine which needs attention. In November we should be able to plant some native tree saplings along the temporary fence. I am looking foward to planting something for the longer term.
And finally … Andy Barker has put together a calendar on behalf of West Midlands branch of Butterfly Conservation. Proceeds from the sale of this calendar will be assigned to the Scarlet Tiger project, so if you would like to support us financially and solve a few Christmas present headaches at the same time …. Copies will be available from me and further details will be made known shortly – watch this space. Below is a copy of the cover.