Friday, 7 October 2016

B&BCWT - Kingfisher, Water Vole Stickleback and Bullhead Records on the River Rea

Our attention now turns to trees and woodland

 Our attention now turns to trees and woodland - 
The woodland season begins with an introduction to managing small wooded areas, with topics involving -
  • coppicing (practice and theory)
  • tools - bowsaw, billhook, axe
  • health and safety
  • biodiversity
  • species identification
  • 'crafting the woodland'
  • managing access
  • public relations
  • interpretation
This year's chosen coppicing plot at Highbury- 
The area was chosen because of the presence of hazel, previously cut around 10-15 years ago, poor ground flora, poor structure, some regeneration, including holly, rowan and cherry.

The aim is to improve species diversity by increasing light levels and introducing ground flora, such as bluebell, primrose, wild daffodil, red campion and wood melick.

Coppice - To cut

Coppicing is a traditional method of woodland management which takes advantage of the fact that many trees make new growth from the stump or roots if cut down. 

In a coppiced wood, which is called a copse, young tree stems are repeatedly cut down to near ground level. 

In subsequent growth years, many new shoots will emerge, and, after a number of years the coppiced tree, or stool, is ready to be harvested, and the cycle begins again. 

Pollarding is a similar process carried out at a higher level on the tree. (Wiki)

Friday, 23 September 2016

2016-17 - update and plan

A new active season begins in October following a Summer of walking, talking and planning around the Rea Valley. The weekly 'Woodland Wednesdays' at Highbury Park have been well attended and feedback to these regular gatherings is positive.

To add variety to our Wednesday gatherings we have been supported by the B&BC Wildlife Trust 'Nature Improvement Programme', which enabled us to work on a scheme to improve the grassland at Highbury Park.

During August we took delivery of four bales of wildflower rich hay from Eades Meadow;
The lower part of the meadow, adjacent to Shutlock Lane, was treated prior to delivery, this was  followed by hay strewing and yellow rattle seed broadcasting a couple of weeks later, we wait for next year to see the results.

Hay Strewing at Highbury
Four of these bales were deposited at Highbury Meadows

The bales were then rolled, broken and scattered so that the hay could be hand strewn over the prepared site
The proposal was sent out for consultation
Our attention now turns to trees and woodland - 
The woodland season begins with an introduction to managing small wooded areas, with topics involving - 

  • coppicing (practice and theory)
  • tools - bowsaw, billhook, axe
  • health and safety
  • biodiversity
  • species identification
  • 'crafting the woodland'
  • managing access
  • public relations
  • interpretation

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Midsummer bioblitz at Stirchley Park

21st June 2016

Graffiti mural
Stirchley Park 1 hour bioblitz and a very pleasant evening 
Check out the following link for a recent story of the above graffiti mural
Wood pigeon
Pied Wagtail
Woody nightshade
White clover
Red Clover
Broadleaf plantain
Ribwort plantain
Creeping buttercup
Rye Grass
Yorkshire Fog
Grass sp x1
Grass sp x1
Sheperd’s purse
Common Lime x 2
Plane x 6
Oak x1
Sea Buckthorn x 3
Rose sp
Rose sp
Russian vine
Bumblebee sp
Fly sp
Ichneumon sp
Ladybird larvae sp
Ladybird larvae sp
11 spot Ladybird
22 spot ladybird
Green orb weaver spider

Friday, 10 June 2016


"In 2001, a research paper in the Journal of Applied Ecology found that 80 per cent of the hawthorn plants supplied by the UK horticultural trade in 1997 came from Germany or Hungary where plants are adapted to substantially different growing conditions."

Hawthorn Beetle 

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Hedgerow info for Cannon Hill

The Hedgelayer or Hedge Plasher
Hedgelaying is a grand old autumn/winter practice for managing a hedge and is applicable for most broadleaf hedge types.

 The stem of each tree/shrub is partially cut, or 'pleached' near the base, this allows it to remain attached to the root  and laid to one side, prevented from grounding by the previous stem or a stake. The pleacher remains alive and new growth begins from the base the following spring
Hedge laying demonstration at Cannon Hill in 2010
The hedge today is broad, dense and tall, supporting and harbouring many animals and plants. 

Up to 2010 the hedge had been routinely shorn each year forming a gappy condition at the base of the stems with a layer of entangled growth at 3 feet. Fair to say not great, if not useless, as a habitat.

6 years of growth and it has developed into a decent hedgerow with around 40 species of plant  recorded in this time, many herbaceous plants have been found at the base as a result of reduced grass mowing.

The hedge peasant

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Beetles we have found and what do we know?

`Lesser Stag Beetle found at the base of a Beech Tree at Holders Woods

Information from


The Lesser Stag Beetle may be smaller than its famous cousin, but it is still a relatively large beetle with large jaws. Adults can be found in woodland, parks and along hedgerows during the summer, often resting in the sun on tree trunks. The larvae depend on old trees and rotting wood to live in and feed on, and both adults and larvae can be found in the decaying wood of Ash, Beech and apple. The adults can be seen flying about at night, sometimes coming to outside lights. They mate and lay their eggs in a suitable piece of decaying wood.

How to identify

The Lesser Stag Beetle is a large beetle with a broad head and large jaws. It can be distinguished from the male Stag Beetle by its smaller mandibles and distinctively knobbed antennae, and from the small-jawed female Stag Beetle by its all-black wing cases.

Where to find it

Found across England and Wales.

Rhinoceros Beetle found in old rotting trunk at Holders Woods

Name: Sinodendron cylindricum
Months seen:  May to October

Habitat:  Woodlands, hedgerows and parks

Food:  Tree sap.  The larvae feed on rotting wood

Special features:  Rhinoceros Beetles have shiny blue-black bodies which are glossy and very pitted.  The males are easily recognised by the rhinoceros horn-like projection on their heads.  Female Rhinoceros Beetles have just a small bump (tubercle).  They are eqipped with wings and are able to fly.

Although mostly nocturnal, they can sometimes be found in the daytime sunning themselves on deciduous trees or rotting stumps.  They have a preference for Beech trees.

Rhinoceros Beetles are sometimes called 'Least Stag Beetles'.

Monday, 6 June 2016

The River

'Canalised and sunken, hard edged and sterile'
 Rea at Cannon Hill outside the MAC

At Balsall Heath
At Digbeth

An interesting blog featuring rivers of the UK